If you caught Part One of our Dollhouse DIY, you know that today you’re getting a rundown of how this mini mid-modern beauty was built! I’m going to be completely honest…I have almost zero woodworking experience, and the most complicated tool I’ve ever run myself is a jigsaw. That said, I find it THRILLING to design patterns that will be simple enough to really work for people like me with basic tools, while maintaining that dollhouse mini magic. My fabulous family experts (an architect and artisan woodworker among them) gave me the background I needed to built it effectively and inexpensively, so read on for the little secrets I have to share with you!
To make your own scrap wood modern dollhouse you’ll need:
- If you’d like to make your house with the materials we used to create an exact replica, you can download our Modern Dollhouse Printable Plans – complete with all measurements, diagrams from each side and a construction supply list
- A few large pieces of scrap plywood
- A handsaw (or circular saw if you have one). If you choose to purchase wood, stores will usually make larger cuts for you!
- A drill or screwdriver
- Wood Screws
- 1/2″ or 1/4″ spade bit (if you want to make decorative holes in the roof and wall as I did)
- Sandpaper in a few different weights
- A wet cloth or tack cloth for sanding cleanup
- Paint, stain or wood wax and or/polyurethane
OPTIONAL SLIDING DOOR:
- 1/4″ square wooden dowels
- A small piece of 1/4″ clear plastic or plexiglass
- Wood Glue
- 1/4″ wood trim or molding
- 1/4″ square wood dowel for risers
- Wood Glue
- Tin Foil or something similar to use as a liner if you’ll be planting real plants (as we did!)
OPTIONAL DOLLHOUSE RISERS:
- (4) bulding blocks (ours were 1 1/2″ squares)
- Wood Glue
DIY Scrap Wood Modern Dollhouse Instructions:
If you want to make EXACTLY what we made, now is the time to download our Modern Dollhouse Printable Plans because you’ll want it to purchase supplies or take inventory and gather what you have. It gives the specifics for the wood materials we used, and includes diagrams of the house with measurements called out so you’ll now exactly where the pieces go and how they fit together. If you’d rather NOT use the template, you can use the mockup below, then follow along to plan your own version!
Step 1: PLAN
If you’re going to use our template, your game plan is set and you can head right to step 2. If not, it’s helpful to make a quick drawing laying out the basic shape and elements you’d like to include. Here’s the “sketch” I put together before I started working on mine.
Step 2: GATHER MATERIALS
Take inventory of what you have. I based the size of my dollhouse on scrap wood I had found in the garage. FYI it was NOT in great condition – it was a bit warped, had some nicks & knots and was in major need of a good rinse! Believe me, once you have sanded, painted & furnished it, no one will even notice it’s not perfect, so this is a fantastic way to use up less-than-perfect scraps. If you’re going to shop for your supplies, be sure to make a list of what you think you’ll need before you go. Most lumberyards and box stores have a box of reduced price lumber and plywood, and I’ve found you can usually find some fantastic deals if you ask about their scrap selection.
Step 3: CUT TO SIZE
Now it’s time to start cutting everything to size. The rule of thumb when it comes to this step is measure twice, cut once! I don’t have a tables or circular saw, so let me share a super helpful hint I’ve learned: if you ask nicely, box stores and lumberyards will usually cut larger pieces of plywood to size for you (I’ve even taken my own wood from home!) for free! If not, you can use a handsaw to cut your pieces.
It’s not necessary, but adding the decorative circle cut-outs in the wall and roof give it a fun mid-century modern vibe, help to keep the interior “room” light, and give kids some fun little peepholes for creative opportunity. If you’d like to add some, you’ll need a drill and a spade bit. I found it was helpful to lay out the circle pattern on the wood pieces before drilling. I did some measuring to make sure everything was even, then made small dots with a permanent marker to indicate the center of my circles. Clamp down your wood, then use the spade bit to drill all the way through all of your circles.
Step 5: SANDING
Once all of your pieces are cut and drilled, it’s time to sand like crazy! 😀 Start with rough sandpaper and work your way to fine. If you have a hand-sander, that will definitely speed up the process. If not, it’s helpful wrap your sandpaper around a small scrap of wood to create your own sanding block.
Step 6: WOOD FINSIHING
The last thing you want to do before putting everything together is your painting & wood finishing. I saved this step for later and MAJORLY regretted it. As excited as you might be to start building, it is so much easier to paint & finish now. I used a non-toxic, eco-friendly white paint (like these) and then applied a clear, water-based, semi-gloss polyurethane for a bit of waterproofing. Let dry for 24-72 hours.
Step 7: BUILD!
Woohoo! It’s build time! Grab a drill and some screws and start putting this baby together! I found it was helpful to pre-drill holes with a very small drill bit. I marked where all of my holes were going on each piece of wood, drilled the small guide holes, then put it all together with some wood screws.
If you’re adding a “glass” sliding door like ours, you can use 4 pieces of square dowel to create a frame for your “door”. I used wood glue to glue two pieces of dowel to the floor and the underside of the roof – with a very small space in between to insert a piece of thin, clear plexiglass. I put 3 pieces of washi tape on the plastic to make it look more like a sliding door, then slid it right between the dowels.
Congratulations, you’ve built your own super cute, design drool-worthy dollhouse! We’re not quite done yet though…stop by our final dollhouse DIY post to see how we made our simple palm trees, furniture, and other finishing touches!