How to make a doll's house

Too pretty to hide in the kids’ room, this doll’s house will win you Parent of the Year status.

Bunnings magazine, November 2020

Tools and materials

180-grit abrasive paper with sanding block

22mm hole saw with arbor

25mm x 1.25mm bullethead nails

300mm length of 22mm Tasmanian oak dowel*

6mm screws

92mm hole saw with arbor

Clean cloths

Drill with driver bit

Four 50mm fixed-pin butt hinges

Handsaw

Magnetic door catch

Metal rule and pencil

PVA adhesive

Safety equipment (mask and eye protection)

Screwdriver

Self-adhesive film

Small hammer

Three panels of 1200mm x 596mm x 7mm BC radiata plywood*

Two set squares

Two quick-grip clamps

Utility knife

Wallpaper sample

Make a unique gift

A doll’s house is a toy your child will treasure for years – and if it’s one you’ve made yourself, it will be all the more special. This basic design is an achievable D.I.Y. project, which we have decorated with materials like adhesive film and wallpaper samples, but you can put your own style stamp on it if you choose! To shortcut the first step, have the larger rectangular pieces cut in store.

1. Cut, measure and mark plywood

From the plywood, cut a piece 600mm high x 596mm (the width of the panel) for the back wall, three 582mm-wide x 300mm-deep floors, and four 400mm high x 300mm wide pieces for the sides and doors. Along the 596mm width of the plywood, measure up 200mm and mark the centre to cut a triangle for the roof front. Save the offcuts to make the internal walls.

Using ruler to measure length on plywood

2. Cut out roof triangle

Position the roof front at the top of the back piece as a template to mark out the top of the triangle, then cut with a handsaw. Smooth over all the pieces with 180-grit abrasive paper, removing any breakout from along the cuts, wiping away dust with a cloth.

Using ruler to measure length on plywood

3. Assemble the side and back panels

To assemble, use set squares with clamps to stand the side pieces up, run adhesive along the back edges, then position the back piece and secure with bullethead nails at 100mm intervals.

Tips: Tap the nails 20mm in from the ends to avoid splitting the timber, pulling the plywood into position as you go. When working with PVA adhesive, have a clean damp cloth on hand to wipe away excess as you go, to avoid drips and smudges.

Using clamp to join two pieces of timber

4. Install base and rooftop floor

To install the base and rooftop floor, apply adhesive around the back and side edges, positioning them inside and flush with the end of the walls, securing from outside with nails.

Tip: Trim self-adhesive film to size with a utility knife and cover the floors before installing.

Hand holding plywood

5. Affix middle floor

Install the middle floor by marking 200mm up the inside and outside of the walls. Apply adhesive around the back and side edges, tap into position and secure from the outside with nails.

Tip: Stick wallpaper onto the back wall before adding the floor.

Hammer in plywood to create a shelf

6. Insert internal walls

Make the internal walls from the plywood offcuts, cutting two 250mm x 193mm pieces, sliding them onto the ground floor and middle floor.

Tip: If they don’t wedge snugly, apply adhesive to the top, back and base, slide into position, clamp and leave to dry.

Using plywood to create a room divider in dolls house

7. Attach doors

To hang the doors, position them flush with the top floor. Mark 10mm in from the edges to position hinges at the top and base, using a screwdriver to secure with 6mm screws. Use 6mm screws to install a magnetic catch to the under-side of the middle floor, with the supplied magnets positioned on the inside of the doors.

Magnetic strip on plywood

8. Drill window and rafter holes

Clamp the roof front to a stable surface, mark centre and 72.5mm up from the base and use a 92mm hole saw to drill the round window. Position the roof front against the back wall, clamp, mark centre and 22mm down from the point and use a 22mm hole saw to drill both rafter holes. Sand smooth.

Drill circular holes in plywood

9. Position the rafter

Apply adhesive around the rafter holes and along the base of the roof front. Position the dowel in the holes and angle the base of the roof front to sit on the top floor, flush with the front. Clamp, secure with nails up through the rooftop floor, then leave to dry.

Using clamp to join pieces of plywood together

Doll’s house extras

Ladder: Make a ladder from 12 pieces of 8mm dowel cut to 50mm long. Drill holes either end with a 2mm bit. Thread 3mm macramé cord through one end of each, add an eye hook then thread back through the opposite side. Space the rungs 30mm apart, dab with adhesive, knot the ends and leave to dry. Twist the eye hook into the underside of the top floor.

Swing: On a plywood offcut of 40mm x 70mm, drill 2mm holes in the corners. Thread macramé cord through holes and over the dowel rafter, then knot the ends.

Surfboards: Cut surfboard shapes from 5mm balsa wood, smooth the edges with abrasive paper and apply two coats of paint with a flat craft brush.

close up of bedroom in dolls house

Looking for more creative D.I.Y. inspiration?

Check out our step-by-step guide to building a kids play tent.

 

Photo Credit: Brigid Arnott and Cath Muscat

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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