How to build a dolls house

Make a childs wish come true –  with a little help from Mitre 10.

Would you like to be I0 out of I0 with that special child? Become an overnight favourite simply by building this MitrePlan dream doll’s house.

Here's an easy-to-follow guide to achieving a great result. Outlines all the tools you will need for the job. Including materials checklist.

Materials Checklist

Medium density fibreboard
  • Cutting list from standard size MDF sheets:

- External walls 2 - 600 x 600 x 16mm

- Internal walls 2 - 334 x 276 x 16mm

- Floors 3 - 868 x 584 x 16mm

- Roof 1 - 670 x 600 x 16mm 1 - 654 x 600 x 16mm

- Back 1 - 868 x 600 x 16mm Scrap

Some Mitre I0 stores have a cutting service and can supply pre-cut components with a perfect finish cut to your specifications.

  • Scrap 7.5mm MDF
  • 3.1 metre x 25mm quad
  • Off cuts of various size dressed timber
Decorating  material
  • Wooden icy pole sticks
  • Felt squares
  • Glass beads
  • Fuse wire
  • Craft pens
  • Poster paints
  • And anything else that you might find
Materials
  • PVA glue
  • Woodfiller
  • Spray contact cement
  • Paint
  • Screws, 8gauge x 40mm
  • 20 x 1.6mm brads
  • 180 and 240 grit sandpaper
  • Sanding block

Step 1: Design 

Firstly consider the overall size of your project. This will depend on the space limitations of the room, and the size of the dolls that will live in the house. When setting out your design, remember that the standard size for MDF is 2400 x 1200mm, so work around the most economical use of the board. You could use multiples of 300mm for your design. Make the doll’s house easy to use, with easy access to the rooms through an open front, and doors and windows in both sides. MDF is used in construction because of its strength, durability and stability. From your drawings, calculate the material required for your project. If you are happy making the doll’s house as illustrated then go to the cutting list.

Step 2: Cutting the board

Cut your components from stock board with a handsaw or circular saw. You may need to finish the sawn edge straight and square with either a hand plane or router. Remember that some Mitre 10 stores have a cutting service, and can supply pre-cut components with a perfect finish cut to your specifications. If they do not have a cutting service, they may be able to order it for you.

Mark out your board with the most economical layout. If you are using a power saw then clamp a straight piece of timber to the board to guide the saw through the cut (Fig.2). Set the blade 5mm deeper than the board thickness. Make sure that the board is well supported in this operation as a movement of the board could break out the workpiece before the cut is finished. The saw blade could also jam in the cut; which could result in loss of control of the saw and injury to the operator.

If you are not happy with the sawn edges then trim them to size with a router fitted with a straight bit. Guide the router with a board clamped to the workpiece (Fig.3). If you trim a piece to undersize then you will need to reduce the size of the rest of the components.

The quality of the job depends on the accuracy of your cutting, so take your time and enjoy doing the job well.

Step 3: Pre-assembly

Mark all the panels and dry assemble the project with screwed joints. Position the panels and drill a pilot hole through both pieces. Countersink the hole for the screw head and drive the screw home with a cordless drill fitted with a friction clutch and phillips head screwdriver bit. Do some practice joints on scrap to trial the clutch settings on your cordless drill until the screw head is slightly countersunk. You may need another pair of hands to hold the panels in position as you work.

Order of assembly

  • Fix the base floor to one wall, flush at the front.
  • Fix the back to the inside of that wall, and fix to the floor.
  • Add the opposite wall.
  • Fix the bottom dividing wall.
  • Cut two packers from scrap, the same height as your dividing wall, clamp them to the inside of each wall. Position the second floor on the packers and fix (Fig.4).
  • Fix the top floor.
  • Assemble roof and fix, ensuring that the ridge angle is 90 degrees.

When the basic house is together stand back, have a look, and now decide the best position for the windows and doors. Also decide on your room decor and make notes. Number the joints, dismantle the doll’ s house and cut the door and window openings with either a keyhole saw, or electric jigsaw. Smooth the inside edges of doors and windows with a wood rasp and sandpaper. Decorate the internal walls.

Step 4: Decoration

For best results, paint and decorate each internal wall when the project is dismantled.

  • For wallpaper use metallic gift-wrapping paper with subtle stripes. Fix with spray contact cement.
  • Make a chandelier with beads of pearls and fuse wire.
  • Icy pole sticks can be trimmed square and glued to the walls as dado board lining. Capping and skirting with balsa wood (Fig.5).
  • Felt attached to the floors with contact cement makes great carpet.
  • For curtains, glue a satay stick across the top of the window opening and rectangular pieces of fabric down each side (Fig.6).

Step 5: Furniture and fittings 

  • For a table lamp fix a 50mm paper cocktail umbrella to a piece of dowel on a cotton reel base (Fig.7).
  • Make kitchen cupboards from 7.5mm MDF. Fine shallow saw cuts mark the doors and 4 flat washers are glued to the cooker for hotplates (Fig.8).
  • You can make a kitchen or coffee table with MDF and dowels
  • Use 7.5mm MDF to make shower recess and bathroom partitions.
  • Blocks of timber can be glued together to make club lounge and beds (Fig.9).
  • Make a staircase from 75 x 75 x 19mm pine blocks (Fig.10).

Step 6 Assembly 

Reassemble and glue joints. Fix roof gussets front and rear. Glue four corner blocks to the bottom, and cap with 25mm quad, with mitred corners. Stop nail and screw holes with Woodstop putty and sand flush. Sand all sharp edges with sandpaper, paint the exterior in nice bright colours, and wait for the squeals of delight.