Tools for Miniature Woodwork and Dollhouse Furniture

Miniature woodwork and making dollhouse furniture requires some specialized hand tools. These tools are used for projects from basic through to advanced skill levels. You don't need to acquire all of these miniature tools at once. Look at your projects and decide which tools you will need, adding tools to your collection as you develop or expand your miniature woodworking skills.

  • 01 of 09

    Razor Saw and Miter Box

    A razor saw ready to cut through a piece of craft wood in a simple miter box.

    2010 Lesley Shepherd

    Fine-toothed razor or gentleman's saws and a miter box which will work with them are the backbones of most woodwork in miniature. The razor saw can be used for straight cuts, veneers, and some joins. Make sure your razor saw has a deep enough blade to fit into your chosen miter box. Used with a block of wood to limit length, the miter box combined with a razor saw can cut several pieces of wood to the same length, which is useful for making things like miniature table legs.

    The razor saw isn't designed to cut through large pieces of wood, so isn't practical for dollhouse builders, except for its many uses in cutting trim and moldings.

  • 02 of 09

    Miniature Drills

    Miniature Drills
    An Archimedean drill or push drill is good for drilling holes under 1mm in diameter in miniatures, models, and polymer clay projects.

    2009 Lesley Shepherd

    Miniature drills, in the form of either pin vises or push drills (also known as Archimedes drills), are very useful for both wood and metal miniatures. Choose a miniature drill based on how you prefer to work and whether you will use it only for drilling, or if you will also use it to hold items. A pin vise can easily hold the wire for the base of a miniature figure armature, for example, allowing you to clamp the pin vise into a vise to hold your project stable while you shape it.

    Push drills are used only for drilling. Another consideration for mini drills is the size of the chuck (or holder) for the drill bits. If you work on larger scales or need to drill holes for fine dowelling, you may require a drill that accepts larger bits than the standard mini drill.

  • 03 of 09

    Files for Metal and Woodwork

    Assortment of miniature metal and wood files for craft work.

    2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Miniature files, often available from rock shops, jewelry suppliers, or specialist hobby suppliers, are useful for making even curves and recesses on small pieces of wood. If you want to work towards a particular shape, an assortment of files helps to keep your shapes regular. Depending on how fine they are, files are also useful for removing a fair amount of wood faster than fine sandpaper, and with less tearing. Although you can use sandpaper over a toothpick or other shape, or nail files, miniature files are useful to have on hand for both metal and woodwork in miniature.

  • 04 of 09

    Jeweler's Saws or Piercing Saws

    Jeweler's bench pin showing the position used for the saw and the material being braced.

    2010 Lesley Shepherd

    A jeweler's saw or piercing saw is essential for cutting curves in wood or metal. The saw must be large enough to allow you to make cuts into the center of your largest piece of work. Blades suitable for cutting metal and wood are available. For wood, use blades from 0 up to 5 or 6. When you purchase a jewelers saw you should also purchase extra blades (they break easily) and a bench pin type of clamp on bench extension that allows you to easily manipulate your saw blade and your work.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Miniature Chisels

    A miniature 1.5mm flat chisel from Lee Valley Tools shown with a clear flexible blade protector.

    2010 Lesley Shepherd

    Miniature chisels are used like full-scale chisels in miniature woodwork. Most often they are used for cutting lines with clean edges or cleaning out cuts. Chisels can also be used to grave or engrave lines in metal and wood.

  • 06 of 09

    Craft and Carving Knives

    Veritas Carver's Knife for use with disposable scalpel and hobby knife blades.

    2010 Lesley Shepherd

    Craft knives or knife holders that also accept scalpel blades are another staple of the woodworker's bench. They are primarily used to mark or carve wood but can be used to cut thinner pieces of craft wood. Many craft knife handles will only hold particular sizes of blades, so buy a knife based on the blade types you think you will be using.

  • 07 of 09

    Squares for Accurate Marking and Alignment

    Engineer's square reveals an off square cut in a dolls house trunk lid.
    The off square cut on the lids of a dolls house trunk is revealed when checked against the accuracy of an square. Using an Engineer's square to mark saw or knife cuts makes them much more accurate.

    2010 Lesley Shepherd

    Squares are tools that help you layout and mark exact cutting lines for miniature projects. They also help you check that your corners are square and true when assembling miniature furniture. These are a tool many beginning miniaturists do not use. More experienced miniaturists know that using an engineer's square will make it much easier to cut exact lines for furniture, which cuts down on the amount of filing, sanding or other methods used to correct pieces that are out of square. When pieces have lots of square corners where fit is important, a small engineer's square is particularly useful.

  • 08 of 09

    Gluing Jigs and Clamps

    Magnets hold parts of a minature wheel in place while glue sets.
    A magnetic gluing jig helps when gluing parts for scale models or dolls house miniatures.

    2008 Lesley Shepherd

    Many miniaturists use magnetic gluing jigs to hold things square while the glue sets. Others use quick release bar clamps, or sometimes corner clamps depending on the size and shape of the miniature. If you don't have clamps, you can use weighted boxes or small grocery boxes, like rectangular salt or baking soda boxes until you get to the stage where you want proper clamps or jigs. Of some miniatures, you can also use scraps of wood held against the miniature with carefully placed rubber bands.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Three Simple Tools

    Scraperight plastic razor blade and blade holder.

    2010 Lesley Shepherd

    Some things make working with miniature projects much easier. These three are simple tools that you will use over and over again in your miniature career. These are:

    • Plastic razor blade scraper
    • Upside-down holder for glue bottles
    • Plastic glue spreader

    The glue bottle holder may be tricky to track down. It is a toothbrush holder, but similar items exist and work well for the same purpose. In addition, you may like to work with glue syringes, or precision tipped glue bottles to keep your woodwork neat.