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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Building Series- video 1- Planning and Preparation

I will be the first to admit that this is the most boring of the steps in the process of building a dollhouse. However, these important steps will help you to have a successful building experience so hang out with me.

This week we are starting the construction of the building. The first step for me is always to get a 3 ring binder for my project. I know a lot of the information could be saved on the computer but I prefer to have a physical copy. This way I have a set place to put odds and ends pertaining to the project. The first thing to go into the binder is always any instructions that the manufacturer sent along with the kit. I also put in a large envelope to hold things like the window sheets if they came with the kit and any other small pieces that are easy to loose but will be needed later.

This binder will also be a place for me to put samples of what ever products I use- from paint swatches to samples of any papers or fabrics I use in the the project. This way if at any time later I either need to know what I used or I want to match colors I have easy access to them.

The next step is to actually do an inventory of the pieces in the kit. You need to know if you have everything before you start. If you do this when you first get the kit you can usually get whatever is missing from the manufacturer, since my kit has been sitting here for so long that probably wouldn't be an option but I still need to know if everything is here. If not I can figure out what to do in place of anything that is missing. I was lucky that everything is here and accounted for though.

Next we need to prime the wood. I am not going to be leaving any areas to look like wood (as in using a wood stain) so I am priming all surfaces with the same primer. If you want to stain some parts (maybe porches, floors or wood trim about walls, doors and windows) put those items to the side and prime them with some plain shellac. This time I was able to get my favorite primer. I usually just buy disposable brushes to use with it this time I found a small disposable paint roller (the packaging is even designed to be a small paint tray) that worked really nice. You don't need to be neat on this coat just coat all the flat surfaces on both sides. We need to coat both sides at once because the wood on these kits is so thin that it will tend to warp if only one side is gotten wet. Once the surfaces are sealed this is less of a problem and we will be able to work on the surfaces separately.

I find it to be a really good idea to cover my work surface with some freezer paper (shiny side up) before I start this process. It will protect the table top and help to keep your work area clean. I leave the paper there as long into the project as I can and put down clean paper if needed. At the end of the project you can just roll up the dirty paper and have minimal cleaning to do.

I like to wear disposable gloves and an old apron while I am putting on the primer. This is one of the messiest steps and this just helps me to stay on top of the mess.

After the primer is completely dry we need to label all of our parts. Use a pencil for this! Ink from a pen can (and will) bleed through your final finish. Pencil marks can be erased if later if you think they might show.

If you have room to leave your pieces in the plywood sheets by all means do that. Mine was completely falling apart so I took all the pieces out of their sheets and moved them to two plastic containers- one for the main structure and one for the add-on room. This way I can keep everything together. I also put the really small parts into small plastic bags so I can find them. I put all the excess wood parts (the stuff that wasn't part of the kit but surrounded it) into a box off to the side. I won't throw that away until I have my kit completely put together just in case I missed some little part.

So that is about it for this week. Next week we will start putting the building together. If you have questions or suggestions for what I should put into the building be sure to post them.


  1. Thanks for sharing this process again. I don't have the time now, but I have an old kit from a Canadian company called Hobby Craft. I've never seen it online. It looks like a Greenleaf McKinley except, they changed the attic into one big room with a dividing wall. I'm assuming they did that for copyright reasons. When I get the time to do it I'll be re-watching your videos.

  2. Thank-you so much for this. I watched your first series of videos a few weeks ago and finally ordered my first kit. Hopefully it comes in this weekend and I can start! I already started a binder and folder like yours. It's a great way to stay organized. Again, thanks, and I will be tuning in again!