Sunday, November 11, 2012

let the framing begin

I'm back, after a three week absence . . . why does real life continue to get in the way of our miniature pursuits?!!  Anyway, I'm eager to share the first steps in the construction of "thedollscottage" with you!

Before I begin . . . I have had several comments from people who are interested in the construction methods being used in the creation of the cottage.  Here are a couple of reference books that I'm using.

"Building Construction Illustrated - Third Edition" by Francis D.K. Ching
This is a wonderful resource that describes pretty much all aspects of construction.  I used it as a textbook for a college course in residential construction.  It is clearly written and it's supplemented with many, easy to understand, drawings.  I highly recommend it for anyone with an interest in building construction methods.

"Get Your House Right" by Marianne Cusato
I was thrilled to find this book at my local Barnes & Noble just as I was designing my cottage.  It is a comprehensive guide on residential architectural elements.  While most are exterior elements, there is a chapter on interior moldings, casings and fireplace surrounds.  The book is written in a "use and avoid" format that helps to identify why the facades of some houses don't quite "work".

Not to undermine our local bookstores, but both of these books are available through

OK, enough of that.  Now to begin . . .

As mentioned as a preview in my last post, once the foundation was complete, the next step was to lay the sills, more correctly known as the sole plates.  This is the first step in translating the floor plan into a three dimensional building as these are the components from which the walls will be built.

To plan my sole plates accurately, I first needed to establish the proper thickness of my interior and exterior walls.  Here's a breakdown of my conversions . . .

Real life interior walls are framed using 2 x 4's.  These are sheathed in 5/8" sheetrock on both sides for a total thickness of 4 3/4".  I used 1/4" basswood strips sheathed in 1/16" illustration board. 

Real life exterior walls are framed using 2 x 6's.  These are sheathed in 5/8" sheetrock on the inside and some type of high density panel plus exterior siding on the outside for a total thickness of 8 - 10".  I used 1/2" basswood strips sheathed in 1/16" illustration board.  To this I'll add my exterior siding.

Wow . . . is this getting too technical?  You're not "nodding off" on me, are you?!
This is where feedback is important.  While I want to describe my process, I don't want to lose you if this isn't interesting . . . don't be shy about letting me know!!! 

So, now that I knew the dimensions of my stripwood, I drew the floorplan on the MDF sub-floor.  I then cut the stripwood in the appropriate lengths and glued them down.

First Floor Sole Plates

In the "real world", the studs would be nailed directly to this sole plate and the sheetrock would then be applied.  For the miniature version it's a bit different.  I'm actually building the walls using two sole plates.  The first is the one I glued to the MDF and the second is the one the studs are attached to.  I'm doing it this way because I need to be able to sheath the walls and do some of the finishing before they are glued in place.  When the walls are ready to be installed, I'll simply glue the sole plates together and voila!

Confused?  The following pictures might help . . .

Framing and Exterior Wall

This is one of the walls being framed.  You can clearly see the second sole plate which is attached to the studs, as well as the top plate which completes the wall.  More later about that . . . and how to frame a window or door opening.

This week's Preview

The Walls Being Installed . . . temporarily

As I complete a wall, I install it by "pinning" the sole plates together with sequin pins.  This allows me to see if I am proceeding correctly . . . and also satisfies my need for instant gratification!!!

Hopefully by now your heads aren't ready to explode.  I'll close for now and let you digest all of this information.

Until next time . . .


  1. No I'm not bored! :-) This is fascinating and I look forward to watching the entire building process. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. I have a friend that builds his houses stick by stick a lot of work but well worth it in the end.

    Looking forward to following the steps toward completion.


  3. Nodding off are you kidding me?? I'm fascinated and hanging on every word. Thank you---

  4. The translation with Google this time was not very correct, but help me with images and imagination. Happy to follow the next lesson. You have already used three different materials: poplar, MDF and lime. I'm curious to see what you will use for the entire structure.

  5. Hey Scott
    Great updates, thank you. I love and admire how you are building this "seriously". I wish I had the inclination but I simply don't have the patience - I bow to you, sir!
    I can't wait to see more. As for the 3 week gap - dont sweat it - I'have been MIA for ages! LOL

  6. Hello Scott,
    This is such an exciting project. I feel like I'm watching hometime or This Old House! I think it's great that you use technical terms and I'm sure many miniature bloggers are familiar with or interested in learning about them. I really love the information in your posts and seeing the update pictures is great.
    Big hug,

  7. Hello Scott,

    Not nodding off and my brain isn't hurting either… You are making all this technical stuff interesting and quite painless :-) It is really fascinating to see how you are "translating" RL building techniques into 1/12th scale and I am looking forward to the next instalment.


  8. Interesting to see and read...
    curious about how you continue!

  9. Ooo - building progress, how excitinng. It's interesting to see the actual construction with "real walls" rather than mdf panels, as it were.

    Can I ask what is the width x depth of the finished cottage (approx)? If you've already given the measurements, just ignore me!

  10. Just found your blog, im very interested in your progress so I hope you post again soon :)

  11. I'm truly impressed that you're actually building the dollhouse the same way as a life scale house would be built, using panels, etc. Bravo!

    It's going to be a wonderful house, I'm sure of that.

    And no, you're not getting too technical. I'm truly enjoying your posts, explanations and pictures. Keep them coming! :)

  12. Looking forward to your next post - Keep up the great work!

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