At one time, the creation of a dollhouse was a mystery known to only a select few highly trained artisans. Dollhouses were commissioned works, available only to the extremely wealthy. Mass-production techniques combined with newer materials and tools, however, made the construction of dollhouses a project that can be performed by anyone with a reasonable level of carpentry talent and experience.
Your first step is to design the dollhouse. Once you have accomplished this step and have a clear idea of exactly what you want the finished product to be, you are ready to begin construction. You have two choices. You can buy a ready-to-assemble dollhouse kit, or you can create the dollhouse completely from raw materials.
A dollhouse kit, by its very nature, will not be as endlessly customizable as a dollhouse built from scratch. However, a wide variety of kits is currently available on the market, enabling you to choose one that closely fits your vision. If you are uncertain about your carpentry skills, you may want to purchase a kit.
If you choose to build the dollhouse from scratch, you will need to decide on the type of material you want to use. Wood is the most traditional. However, some types of wood work better than others. If you want the dollhouse to be reasonably sturdy and able to be handled, plywood is generally a good choice. 3/4? plywood is the most durable choice for the floor and structural components. 3/8? is acceptable for non-structural walls, doors and the roof.
Draw out a pattern on paper. You should have a pattern for every feature of the house including the base. Remember to keep the scale that you selected (most commonly 1:12) in place. Be sure to mark your walls and doors as well.
Cut out the pattern and use the pattern to mark the wood. Although the wood can be cut by hand, a circular saw and perhaps a jigsaw will make your job both easier and less time consuming. Pre-drill holes with an electric drill in the corners of all openings such as windows and doorways.
Once the pieces are cut, you will want to sand all of the edges smooth. A plane may be necessary if the cuts are uneven, otherwise simple sandpaper will suffice. Use a rough grain first and finish sanding with a fine grain.
After all of your pieces are sanded smooth, you are ready to join them together. Use a thin layer of wood glue and a series of common nails. Small screws can also be used for added stability. Be sure to drive all screws flush and countersink all nails. Sand again over the finished nails or screws.
If you want to paint the dollhouse, you have two options. You can paint the pieces individually before assembly, or you can paint the whole dollhouse once it is assembled. There are pros and cons to both methods. The method you select will ultimately be based on your painting skills and the design you envision for the dollhouse.
Building a dollhouse can be as elaborate or as simple a project as you would like. If your carpentry skills are not advanced, a dollhouse kit will allow you to do more elaborate construction. If you are confident in your skills, then designing and building your own dollhouse will allow maximum freedom. The decisions are completely up to you.