Wooden Doll House Plans – How to Make a Wooden Doll House

There is nothing more interesting to build than a doll-house, and the construction is within the ability of the average girl. If brother is willing to lend a hand with the carpenter work so much the better.
Sister can attend to the finishing and furnishing, which are important parts of the work that she can do more handily than a boy can. But there is no reason why either a girl or boy cannot undertake a doll-house like that shown in Figs. 220 and 221, and carry the work to a successful completion, by carefully following the instructions and diagrams in this chapter.

The Building Material. The doll-house in the photographs was built of packing cases. You can buy these at a dry-goods store at 15 or 20 cents apiece.

The Floor Plans are shown in Figs. 222, 223, and 224. Your boxes may make it necessary to alter the dimensions given, but that will be simple to do. Patterns for

The Partitions
are shown in Figs. 225 and 226. In cutting the second-floor partitions (Fig. 226), miter one edge of E and F to allow for the bedroom door opening, shown upon the plan, and miter the edges of _G_ to fit between [Pg 146] them above the door. The mitering is shown in the drawings (Fig. 226).

Besides cutting a stair opening in the second floor, make an opening three by five inches in the second and third floors for

The Elevator-shaft. Care must be taken to have these openings exactly over one another. Make the opening in the second floor six by eight inches in the place indicated upon the plan. This will allow for the elevator shaft and stairway. No stairway has been built to the third story, as the elevator serves the purpose, and one would take up too much of the ball-room space.

The Side Walls should measure nineteen inches wide by twenty-four inches high, and the other two walls thirty inches wide by twenty-four inches high. That portion of

The Rear Wall enclosing the kitchen and bath-room is hinged to open (see Fig. 222), and

The Front Wall
is made in two sections, each hinged to a strip of wood an inch and one-half wide nailed to the two edges of the house, as shown in Fig. 220.

The Windows are four by five inches, so four-by-five camera plates can be used for the glass.

The Roof had best be made in two sections, each measuring twenty-eight inches long by twenty-four inches wide. Fasten the boards together with battens on the under side and, after mitering the upper edge of each, nail them to the house so that the ridge is fifteen inches above the third floor. Then nail a board nineteen inches long by ten inches wide in the peak of the roof (D in Fig. 228), and a narrow strip three inches from each side wall (K and L in Fig. 224). These cut off the triangular shape of the ball-room and give it a better appearance.

 Fig. 220.—The Home-made Doll-house.
Fig. 221.—Interior View of Doll-house.

Figs. 222-226.—Plans of Doll-house and Patterns for Partitions.
Fig. 227.—The Chimney.

The Chimney is a solid block of wood with narrow strips nailed to all sides near the top (Fig. 227). Make it eight or ten inches long, and cut off the bottom to fit the slant of the roof. Paint the block red, and mark off the mortar joints in white.

An Elevator is something which is found in but few doll-houses. It was built in this house, thinking it might please the young mistress, and it proved such a success that the scheme has been worked out carefully in Figs. 228, 229, 230, 231, and 232, that you may include it in the house you build.

The cutting of the elevator-shaft has already been described. For material, procure two small pulleys such as is shown in Fig. 230, four feet of brass chain, six feet of No. 12 wire, half a dozen double-pointed tacks or very small screw-eyes, a short piece of lead pipe, and a cigar-box. Make

The Car out of the cigar-box, cutting it down to two and one-quarter inches wide, three and three-quarters inches deep, and seven inches high (see Fig. 231). Place two of the double-pointed tacks or screw-eyes in each side of the car for the guide-wires to run through and another in the center of the top from which to attach the brass chain.

Fig. 228.—Front View of Elevator-shaft and Stairs.
Figs. 229-232.—Details of the Elevator.

The Guide-wires are made of very heavy wire that will not bend easily. Cut two of a length to reach from the first floor to the ball-room ceiling, and after running them through the tacks in the sides of the car, stick their ends into small holes bored at E, F, G, and H (Fig. 228). The upper holes should be bored through the ball-room ceiling, while the lower ones need be bored but part way through the first floor. Care must be taken to have these holes in the correct position, so the elevator will run up and down upon the wires without striking the sides of the shaft. The easiest way of fastening the wires in place is to run the upper ends through the holes, until the lower ends can be set into their sockets, and then drive two double-pointed tacks over the top of each wire, as shown at E and F in Fig. 228.

Now run the elevator up to the top of the shaft, and mark upon the ceiling where the screw-eye in the top of the car strikes. At this point bore a hole through the ceiling and two inches back of it bore another hole, through which to run the weight-chain. When this has been done, cut a short block of wood to fit the peak of the roof and

Screw the Pulleys into it two inches apart (Fig. 229). Fit the block in the peak of the roof, centering the front pulley over the top of the car as nearly as possible, and drive a couple of nails through the roof boards into it to hold it in place temporarily. Then

Attach the Chain to the tack in the top of the car, slip a piece of lead pipe about an inch long over the chain, allowing it to set on the top of the car to make the latter heavier (Fig. 231), and run the chain up through the first hole in the ceiling, over the pulleys, and down through the second hole. To the end of the chain attach a piece of lead pipe for

The Counter-balance (C, Fig. 232). This should be just heavy enough to make a perfect balance between it and the car, which can be obtained by whittling off the end of the pipe until the weight of the two is the same. Make the chain of sufficient length so the weight will rest upon the first floor when the car is at the third floor. You can now tell whether or not the pulleys are in the right positions. When they have been adjusted properly, nail the block firmly in place.

The Gable-Ends. The front gable-end consists of four pieces (A, B, C, and D, in Fig. 233), the dimensions for the cutting of which are given in the illustration. After preparing these, nail A, B, and C in their proper positions in the gable of the roof, and trim the edges of D, if they need it, to fit between. To prevent the movable section from pushing in too far, it will be necessary to nail a narrow strip of wood to the roof and third floor, just inside of it. The rear gable is made in one piece, and is fastened in place permanently.

Fig. 233.—The Front Gable-end.

The movable gable and all hinged portions should have
Spring-catches with which to shut up and lock the house (see the illustrations).

The Stairway is shown in Fig. 228, and the details for its construction will be found in Figs. 234, 235, 236, 237. This stairway is made in two parts, with a platform between. Cut a block of wood the shape and size shown in Fig. 234 for the platform, with notches at A and B for the tops of the lower stringers to fit in. Then

Prepare Two Stringers of thirteen steps similar to Fig. 235, and two stringers of five steps similar to Fig. 236, laying off the steps by means of a cardboard pattern, or pitch-board, of the size shown in Fig. 237. After cutting out these pieces, fasten the tops of the lower stringers in the notches A and B in the platform, and nail the platform in its proper position in [Pg 153] the corner of the hall. When this has been done, nail the bottoms of the upper stringers (E in Fig. 236) to the sides of the platform at C and D (Fig. 234), and set the tops in notches cut in the edge of the second floor.

Figs. 234-237.—Details of Stairs.
The Treads and Risers of the steps—the horizontal and vertical boards—should be cut out of cigar-box wood.

Cut The Newel-Posts out of short square blocks, and

The Hand-rails out of strips of cigar-box wood. Make a groove in the under side of the hand-rails to receive the ends of

The Balusters, or spindles. Toothpicks are of just the right size for balusters.

The delicate portions of the stairways should be glued in place. Make slits in the stair treads to stick the bottoms of the balusters in.

The Front Steps are clearly shown in Fig. 220. Make the solid balustrades out of pieces of box board, and the step treads and risers out of cigar-box wood. Prepare the rear steps in the same way.

Cut the Window Openings in the places indicated upon the plans (Figs. 222 to 224) and the photographs. First bore holes in the four corners of each window space; then saw from hole to hole with a compass-saw.

Old camera plates are excellent material for

The Window Glass. Fasten the glass in the openings with small brads in the same way that glass is fastened in picture-frames, and putty it in the same way that window glass is puttied, to hold it firm.

The Front and Rear Doors can be painted upon the front of the house. Openings are not necessary.

The Outside Trimmings.
Strips of cigar-box wood should be cut up for the outside door and window casings, and be tacked around the openings as shown in Fig. 220. Nail a molding or a plain strip of wood to the front edge of the third floor, as shown in Fig. 220.

Castors will make it easier to move the doll-house about. Cut four blocks of wood, fasten a castor to each, and nail one block inside each corner of the foundation frame.

The Interior Woodwork. Cigar-boxes make excellent hardwood floors. Fit the pieces close together and fasten with small brads.

Make the door and window casings, picture-moldings, and baseboards out of strips of cigar-box wood.

After completing the carpenter work of the house,

Set the Nail-heads,—that is, drive them below the surface of the wood,—putty these holes and all cracks and other defective places, and sandpaper rough surfaces.

Paint the House
a cream color, with white trimmings and a green roof. Stripe the foundation walls to indicate courses of stone work. Paint the front door a mahogany color, with panels indicated upon it, and make the rear door white. The painting of the chimney has already been described.

The inside walls should be finished as suggested in Chapter XIV. The woodwork may be oiled, or painted with white enamel or any other color desired.


With the carpenter work of a doll-house completed, the finishing of the inside,—wall papering and painting,—and selecting of furnishings for the various rooms, remain to be done. This requires as much care as the building of the house, and while any boy can do the work, the help of a sister will perhaps simplify matters and give to the rooms a daintier appearance.

The Walls and Ceiling of the kitchen and bath-room should be painted with white lead or white enamel. For the other rooms select paper having a small design, such as is to be found on most ceiling papers. If you have ever watched the paper-hanger at work, you have noticed he puts on the ceiling first, allowing the paper to run down the walls a little way all around instead of trimming it off. Then he hangs the wall paper, and if there is no border to cover the joints of the ceiling and wall papers he carries the wall paper up to the ceiling. Use flour paste to stick on the paper, and a cloth or photograph-print roller to smooth out the wrinkles. The dining-room should have a wainscot of dark paper below the chair-rail, and a paper with little or no figure upon it above.

All Hardwood Floors, the stairs, door and window casings, baseboards, and picture moldings should be varnished thoroughly or given several coats of boiled linseed-oil.

All floors, with the exception of the kitchen, bath-room, and hardwood floors, should be fitted with

Carpets. If you do not happen to have suitable scraps on hand, they can be procured at almost any furnishing store where they make up carpets. Select pieces with as small patterns as possible. The floors of the bath-room and kitchen should be covered with oilcloth.

Rugs for the hardwood floors may be made out of scraps of carpet.

Window-shades may be made for each window out of linen, and tacked to the top casing so that the bottom of the curtain reaches just above the center of the opening. Each window should also have

Lace Curtains made out of scraps of lace. They should either be tacked above the windows or hung upon poles made out of No. 12 wire, cut in lengths to fit the windows. Screw small brass hooks into the top window-casings for the poles to hang upon.

Handsome Portières for the doorways can be made with beads and with the small hollow straws sold for use in kindergartens. For the

Bead Portières, cut threads as long as the height of the door and string the beads upon them, alternating the colors in such a way as to produce patterns. Then tie [Pg 158] the strings together to a piece of wire the width of the doorway, and fasten the wire in the opening. The

Straw Portières are made similarly.

From magazine illustrations you can select

Suitable Pictures for each room, but if you are handy with brush and pencil you may prefer to make the pictures yourself. These may be mounted upon cardboard and have their edges bound with passe-partout paper to give the effect of frames, or frames may be cut out of cardboard and pasted to them. Hang the pictures to the picture molding with thread.

A Cosey-corner may be fitted up in the ball-room by fastening a strip of a cigar-box in one corner an inch and one-half above the floor for the seat, and hanging draperies on each side of it. Pillows may be made for it out of scraps of silk stuffed with cotton.

A doll-house properly proportioned in every detail, including the selection of its furniture, is pleasing to look at, and is to be desired much more than some of the specimens to be found in the stores. These very often have parlor chairs larger than the mantel, beds that either fill two-thirds of the bedroom space or are so small they are hidden from view by the chairs, and other furniture accordingly, all having been selected without any thought as to size or fitness.

Care must be taken, in buying the furniture, to have the pieces suitable to the rooms. It will no doubt require more time than to purchase the first sets you come across, but when you have completed the selections, the result will be a much better appearing doll-house.

By carefully searching the toy-shops you are almost certain of finding what you want for the various rooms, as about everything imaginable in furniture has been manufactured. Porcelain bath-tubs, wash-basins with real faucets and running water, gilt furniture, chandeliers, and such articles are tempting to buy. But it is rather expensive to fit up a house in this way, for, though each piece may not amount to very much, they count up very quickly.

Published, August, 1915