Saturday, May 23, 2009
Opening Sara's Dollhouse
So... here's the house with all its fancy details. The brackets and fancy belt under the eaves really give the house its personality. But they also created endless headaches for me when I began to figure out how the house would open to allow access to the rooms!
The brackets on this house took considerable work. I took two pieces of 1/16" cherry wood and temporarily held them together with double-stick tape (available from most office stores). I made a template of the design, which I traced on the pair, and then used my jeweler's saw to cut them out. I then laid the brackets on a third piece of 1/16" cherry wood and traced the exact shape of that bracket (since there is almost always some permutations when cutting pieces like this). Then I cut out two more pieces of wood that were slightly smaller than the rest of the bracket. I then painted the pieces BEFORE I glued them together. (I tried making one bracket, glued it all up and then paint it. OH MY! That was just too hard to do!) This was the only way I was able to keep the white and red paints from being badly applied!
At left and below are how the brackets (and the house) are fastened. Here's the first step in how to "open" the house: remove the bracket on the top right. (I made it removable by using a toothpick as my "doweling" to hold it in place. To get this centered just right, I first drilled a needle-sized hole, then cut a straight pin so that only about 1/16" of it stuck out from the end of the hole. That allowed me to put the bracket in exactly its rightful place, and then press in a little. I then removed the pin, found the hole it made in the wall of the house, and drilled a hole large enough to accommodate the toothpick in both the bracket and in the house.
The next step for getting into the house is to remove the whole belt from the right front side of the house. I made it removable, because if I glued the belt to the top of the plywood base, it scraped the under side of the eaves and the downspouts when I opened the case. It was just easier to make this piece removable.
Next, we remove another bracket, which is also doweled into place with a toothpick.
Then, the steps and railing from the front porch have to slide out of the way. The steps, by the way, are made from Corian (yes, the counter material). A friend who makes pens out of the material turned each of the posts for me.
I can now open the house by moving a very tiny pin closure I inserted behind the clapboard siding. It's just a piece of florist wire that I bent like a paperclip so that one point projects into a hole in the house and the other end sticks out as my handle. I did my best to make it inconspicuous.
I remove the bracket and steps whenever I need to open the middle section of the house. The only thing holding the middle section closed is a brass clasp I fashioned. It is held in place by a single screw and slides over another screw to fasten. The left hand side of the house opens much the same way as the right. Obviously, I don't intend to open the house very often once it's completed!