I have written a few blog posts before about the best power tools to create dollhouses and miniatures like a mini-drill or a craft table saw. But today I will be writing about the best tools for making miniatures and making your own wooden dollhouse. Also, I will be covering hand tools and small tools, if you don’t want to use power tools.
Do you wonder how on earth to even start making a dollhouse? Well, I have written an article about that as well, right here.
But Let’s Start With Safety First!- Tools for Miniature Building
In a previous post, I already talked about safety measures when you go about using power tools, but I wanted to add a few things:
- do not wear loose clothing that might get caught in a revolving machine.
- wear safety glasses
- if you are using a machine that has machine guards, always use them properly
- while using sharp hand tools, always keep both hands behind the cutting edge
- when changing saw-blades or making any other adjustments, always unplug power tools first!
- use push sticks whenever possible to avoid cutting your fingers
- try to avoid using power tools in poor light or low temperatures, you should be focused on the task and not be distracted by other things like shivering from the cold. A reminder to also avoid being disturbed by family members or pets, when you start to cut things.
A. Power Tools for miniature building
To make a wooden dollhouse, I am assuming that you already have a basic woodworking toolkit and so I will be focussing on some more specialized tools plus equipment that the carpenter for real-size furniture might not have.
Because these days, every brand out there makes small power tools with the DIY person in mind. If you don’t have these power tools, the dollhouse still can be done with just using hand tools (hand tools will be discussed later in this article), but it will take you a bit longer to finish, obviously.
1. A Mini Table Saw to cut the wood for miniatures.
It would be advisable to watch a Youtube video or two though before starting to work with this machine!
2. A Router Tool- a perfect tool for dollhouses
Bosch makes excellent routers. It can be used for a variety of things, like sawing outdoors and window openings, especially if several cutouts of identical sizes are needed.
If you fit the router to the drill stand with ‘table and fence’, it will cut out the carcass joints in plywood panels easily.
It is also a perfect machine to cut joints and rebates in small parts, such as door frames and window bars.
You would need a whole range of straight cutters: 1-5mm, 3mm, 6mm, and 9mm are useful.
3. A Jigsaw
Another one to be put on the list of the best power tools to have to make a dollhouse is the jigsaw. Well, at the least you can say that it is very useful, but not that essential if you have a hand fretsaw (aka a hacksaw, some more info here).
4. An Orbital Sander.
If you ever buy one, they go a very long way and will last you over 20 years, even well-used! And they will do more than enough for our hobby.
Again, an orbital sander is not an essential tool, but what it will do is make a better job when used with a simple jig to clean off and thicknessing window assemblies.
You can use a simple block plane, but then there is more risk of breaking or splitting small components.
5. A 12V Mini Craft Drill, another power tool for miniature making.
I have written before about mini electric drills and even made 5 reviews on them here. I really do think that a mini craft drill is something that any crafter should have in their working place to make dollhouses and/or miniatures (and more)!
Have a look at my crafting place in this Youtube video that I made! (sorry for my bad Dutch accent haha)
6. A Soldering Iron.
A small soldering iron will be needed in some cases to make electrical connections for your dollhouses. Like this one for example.
7. A Hot-Melt Glue Gun.
Now with this one, the opinions are divided, lots of people love to work with it, while others don’t.
Of course, I would not use it to glue pieces together that have joints, but you can apply it to glue wooden tiles or shingles for example. Glue sticks are available with different ‘open’ times and you will need those of around 60 to 90 seconds.
The first choice in glue to build dollhouses would obviously be to just use wood glue! You can buy a glue gun just about anywhere.
B. Hand Tools for making miniatures
The following hand tools will be used to make a dollhouse, sooner or later in the process, if you want to make your own!
A T-square of 4ft (about 1,22m) is the best tool to mark out large plywood panels. It can be done with the smaller ones of 9in (22,86cm) square, used for carcass assembly, and a straight edge, but it is not as handy.
A very small engineer’s square, of about 2 and a half in (64mm), would be useful to assemble small parts such as windows.
You can get all types of squares in hardware stores or online.
2. Jack Planes.
A normal smoothing plane could be enough if you take care of it, but a jack plane of 14in (3,50m) long, could be helpful on long straight edges.
A rabbet plane will be needed in several situations where the inset blade of a normal plane will not cover the whole surface of the work to be trimmed, as for example, in the angle between a wall and an overhanging roof.
At last, a block plane of 5-6 in (150mm) long is used for fine cuts on smaller parts, and for end grain.
3. A fretsaw.
A fretsaw can cut more easily small and/or shaped components, plus it will also cut door and window openings if you do not have a router or jigsaw, as mentioned above. It’s best to have a 12-inch (305mm) throat.
You will need at least 2 of each G-cramps of the following sizes: 2in (50mm), 3in (75mm), and 4in (100mm). To make the dollhouse itself you will use the bigger ones more, but the small ones I use often to make miniature furniture.
Always use a small piece of wood between the cramp and the workpiece, to avoid damaging the surface. There is some more explanation on this website.
At least 4 chisels are needed, most of the bevel-edged type. The sizes most used to make something in wood are 1/4in (6mm), 3/8in (9mm), 1/2in (12mm), and 3/4 in (19mm).
Additionally, very small chisels are used: 1/16 in (1-5mm) and 1/8in (3mm), those can be made from broken needle files. Or if you are a handy woodworker you can make them yourself, like in this video:
A small scraper, with 1 1/2 in (38mm) and 3 in (76mm) blades, will smooth out small parts where a very fine cut is needed, and will also remove paint splashes or excess glue- particularly in corners.
7. Sandplates and sandpaper.
You need sand plates both on your orbital sander and on your mini drill. (see above).
They exist in a large range of self-adhesive, hardened-steel sanding plates in a variety of grades. They are ideal for cleaning up the inside edges of door and window openings.
The smaller sanding plates and sandpaper can be used without backing and they work well in cleaning out the slots for hinges in door jambs.
In particular, regarding making a dollhouse yourself, long-nosed pliers are useful to hold a small panel or veneer pins while these are being hammered.
This especially is handy when you need to do this inside a carcass and the visibility is less because there is a hand in front of the pin.
9. A Hammer.
A small hammer, that weighs around 100gr, will be needed.
10. Other Tools.
Another list-in-a-list of small tools that should be included, but it would be a bit silly to mention them separately, are:
- an adjustable protractor: used to mark out and check roof angles, to set the miter guide, and tilt on the mini saw
- small screw-drivers and side cutters for electric work
- for small trimming cuts on wood: a razor saw and a crafting knife to trim wallpaper, flowers, plants, etc..
- Just a solid, everyday, good old-fashioned knife is also something I often use!
Well, you need to start somewhere, so making a list of the best power tools to make a dollhouse, together with a list of hand tools, will already put you on your way to getting there and making it all the way DIY style.
I hope that you gathered some good information from this blog post, together with the insights of this article?
And as usual, if you have any questions/observations/work, or insights to share, please leave a message below or join me on my newest Facebook group. I would love it if you share this article with your friends!
I wish you happy crafting!
My name is Lizzy, and I am an amateur miniaturist obsessed with everything in the dollhouse and miniature world, ever since I was a teenager.
I love to write as well about all things happening in the miniature world, hence the reason why I created this blog!
I wish you happy reading and crafting!