Make a Basic Dollhouse Cupboard or Armoire

  • 01 of 08

    Make a Miniature Dollhouse Armoire or Cupboard With Opening Doors

    A simply constructed dolls house scale armoire with shaker doors is shown beside a doll for scale
    A simply constructed dolls house scale armoire with shaker doors is shown beside a doll for scale. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    This dollhouse cupboard or armoire is a simple piece of dolls' house furniture based on building a basic box with doors. This piece can be built in endless variety, used for clothes cupboards, alchemist's supplies, linens, china, or sized to make a range of kitchen cabinets.

    The piece lends itself to simple modification to create a variety of styles. The simple shaker style doors shown, can be replaced with plain square flat doors for a more contemporary look. Doors can be divided with muntins to create a panelled style, or given curves to make the piece feel more French provincial. Made of basic craft basswood, or lime wood, the piece can be painted, or have a decorative finish applied. You can shorten the doors, and make simple drawers that fit between shelves at the base of the piece, or use a shortened form as the bottom of a kitchen hutch or dresser.

    To Make This Dolls House Armoire You Will Need:

    • Craft Wood - I used 1 inch by 1/16 inch basswood strips (use wider strips if you want an armoire which is more than 1 foot deep in scale. You may need to cut down a wider strip), 1/4 inch by 1/16 inch basswood strips, three inch by 1/16 inch basswood boards, and scraps of three inch by 1/8 inch basswood board to make this three 1/4 by six 1/2 inch armoire in 1:12 scale.
    • Razor Saw
    • Miter Box
    • Wood Glue or PVA Glue
    • Glue Spreader
    • Sanding Block and Sandpaper
    • Scale Brass Nails or dressmaker's pins, cut to length and filed to a point.
    • Clamps and or Gluing Jig
    • Beads or Scale Door Handles - you could make wooden handles following the instructions for the hanging pegs on the dollhouse shelf.
    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Determine the Measurements and Cut the Pieces For the Dollhouse Armoire Frame

    Main case parts for a dolls house scale armoire are cut from standard strips of basswood.
    Main case parts for a dolls house scale armoire are cut from standard strips of basswood. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Before you begin to make your miniature armoire or cupboard you will need to work out your dimensions. I made my cupboard in 1:12 scale and used standard sized widths of craft wood to make construction simpler. If you want to work in a different scale or want to make the base for a hutch or some other type of cupboard, you will need to plan out your measurements. My armoire is designed to fit beside some bookcase shelving, so I have made it only one inch deep and used standard 1 inch width basswood. If you want to make a clothes cupboard, you will need some strip wood at least 2 inches wide in order to make an armoire that corresponds to a real depth of two feet.

    Cut Your Carcase Pieces

    The carcase or frame of a cupboard or armoire is made from a back, two sides, and a top and bottom. The construction is exactly the same as you use for making a butt joined box. For my armoire my back piece was cut from 3 inch by 1/16 inch basswood, cut to a length of 5 3/4 inches. My one inch wide by 1/8 inch side pieces were cut to a length of 5 3/4 inches as well, while the top and bottom strips were cut to 3 1/4 inches.

    Cutting Tip - If you are cutting pieces of wood which are too large to fit in your miter box, clamp a steel ruler above the wood, clamping wood and ruler to a work surface, and use the steel ruler as a fixed guide for your razor saw blade or craft knife. Cut your pieces to length across the wood grain first before you split the wider piece into narrower sections if required. (I cut down wider strips of wood to make pieces for the doors and the top and bottom of the armoire.)

    Test Fit Your Case Assembly

    Before you glue your case together, check that the sides are the same length as the back, and that the top and bottom section will overlap the side pieces. Make sure all cut edges are square and sand them with a sanding block to make them 'true' or square if necessary.

    Glue The Case Frame

    Apply a thin layer of wood glue to the narrow edges of the back of the armoire and set it in between the side pieces, with the top and bottom overlapping the side edges. You will need to apply glue to the top and bottom edges of the sides before you place the top and bottom of the case in place. Clamp the case together with bar clamps or magnets in a magnetic jig to apply some pressure to the glue joins. Before you clamp the case together, make sure all the corners of the case are square. Set the case aside to dry.

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Cut the Parts For the Dollhouse Armoire or Cupboard Doors

    Edging cut for the top of a dolls house scale armoire door.
    Edging cut for the top of a dolls house scale armoire door. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    While the dollhouse miniature armoire case is setting up, measure and cut the parts for the doors. The doors will need to be cut from 1 1/2 inch stock, or cut from a length of 3 inch stock sawn to length along the grain. I cut my doors from a piece of 3 inch by 1/16 inch basswood, cutting a three inch section to the length of the inside measurements of the case (the same length as the piece for the back) and cutting the strip into two, 1 1/2 inch wide sections. The sections will need to be sanded along the long edges so that they are roughly 1/32 inch narrower than half the width of the case interior. Doors hinged on pins must swing around the pins and need to be slightly narrower than the opening.

    When you have the two main door sections cut, you will need to cut the framing strips for each door. The side strips are cut the same length as the door, and the top and bottom strip are cut to fit between them. I used 1/4 by 1/16 inch stripwood and cut the side frame pieces to 5 3/4 inches and the top and bottom frame pieces to 1 inch.

    Assemble the doors by gluing the framing strips along the top edges of the door, matching the edges of the framing strips to the edges of the door panels. If your door panels are not quite square, the framing strips will cover the mistakes.

    Clamp the glued framing strips to the door and leave them to dry.

    When the doors have dried, use a sanding block to true any edges of the frame which need it.

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Fit Shelves Inside a Dollhouse Miniature Cupboard or Armoire

    Shelves for a dolls house scale armoire are glued and clamped into the armoire case frame.
    Shelves for a dolls house armoire are cut to allow for the thickness of the doors, then glued and clamped in place in the cupboard or armoire case. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Shelves are much easier to fit inside the dollhouse scale cupboard before the doors are placed in position. To fit the shelves, cut lengths of stripwood the width of the cabinet. I used the remains of the one inch wide stripwood I used for the sides of the armoire. Trim the shelves so they fit into the case leaving enough space for the thickness of the doors. My shelves needed to be trimmed to a width of 13/16 of an inch in order to leave space to allow the doors to fit flush with the front of the carcase.

    When your shelves fit correctly into your armoire frame or carcase, mark their position for gluing, apply glue to the side and back edges of each shelf, and clamp them in position in the carcase as shown, leaving them securely clamped until the glue dries.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Check the Fit of Miniature Dollhouse Armoire Doors Inside the Frame

    Checking the fit of shaker style doors in a dolls house scale armoire.
    Simple shaker style doors for a dolls house armoire are test fitted into the cabinet once the shelves have been installed. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    When the miniature doors and the dollhouse armoire frame with the shelves are dry, test fit the doors into the front of the armoire or cupboard. You should allow a thin space (at least 1/32 inch) for the hinged edge of the door, between the door and the frame. If the doors fit too tightly to allow for any space for the hinge, sand them carefully with the sanding block.

    When your doors fit neatly into the frame of the armoire or cupboard, take a sanding block and carefully round the edges of the door where it will fit against the cupboard frame. If you do not round the edges your door will stick when you try to open it after you have the hinge pins in place. Do not sand the door to much, you don't want the edges to be noticeably round!

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Fit Hinge Pins Into the Edges of the Dollhouse Miniature Armoire Doors

    A brass 'nail' or pin is inserted through the case of a dolls house scale armoire for a hinge pin.
    A brass 'nail' or pin is inserted through the case of a dolls house scale armoire into the top of the door to form a hinge. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    To fit hinge pins into your dollhouse scale doors, take a craft nail, or a dressmakers pin and check that it will fit through the top and bottom of the frame with roughly half its length continuing into the top and bottom of the door. If you are using dressmakers pins, trim them to about 1/4 to 3/8 inch in length and carefully file the pin end to a sharp point using a file or coarse sandpaper. Mark the thickness of the door on the top and bottom of the armoire frame, measuring in from the front edge. This mark will show you how close to the front you must place your pin in order for it to enter the door. Fit your door into the frame, holding it away from the sides of the frame with a folded piece of paper as a shim if necessary. Using forceps or tweezers, center the point of the pin just in from the edge of the door, and centered on the door thickness you marked on the top or bottom of the armoire frame. Carefully drive the pin or hobby nail, straight down into the door. Make sure you line the pin up straight with the front and side edges of the frame, otherwise the pin may poke through the front of the door. If you have difficulty handling short hobby nails or shortened pins, you may want to use a Push Nailer which makes it easier to center and insert craft or ship building nails.

    Repeat the insertion of the pin or nail on the opposite end of the door, making sure the door is square in the frame with a slight gap between the frame and the hinged edge of the door. Gently check to make sure your door swings freely on its new hinge. If it sticks, you may need to sand the hinged edges some more, or you might be able to bend the hinge pin gently in the door, by inserting a thin metal ruler near the hinged edge of the door to help adjust the door spacing. If all else fails, remove the hinge pin and try again.

    hinge both doors using pins and check to see that they open and close smoothly before gluing the top and bottom of the cupboard or armoire in place. (see next step)

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Add A Top and Base To the Dollhouse Miniature Armoire

    The base and top of a dolls house armoire cut to overhang the side and front edges of the case.
    The base and top of a dolls house armoire are cut to overhang the side and front edges of the armoire case. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    The next step in building the dolls house armoire or cupboard is to glue on an overhanging top and base to cover the hinge pins and hold them in place in the frame. The top and bottom can also add some design detail to the armoire. If you prefer, you can glue cornice molding in dolls house scale to the top and base of the cupboard. Try a few different methods to produce cupboards with different styles.

    For the plain armoire shown here, I cut a piece of 3 inch by 1/8 inch basswood into a strip 3 1/2 inches long, which gave me a bit of an overlap on the sides of my armoire. I clamped the strip of wood down to the workbench with a steel ruler to give me a straight edge to cut the length of three inch wide wood into two strips 1 1/8 inches wide. This gives me an overlap of 1/8 inch on the sides and front face of the armoire. After sanding the cut edges square, I used a sanding block to gently round the front and side edges of the armoire top, and sanded a forty five degree angle on the side and front edges of the base piece.

    Apply a thin layer of glue to the top and bottom of the armoire frame and glue the top and base to the armoire frame (see photo next step). Set the armoire aside to dry while you make the feet.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Make Feet for a Miniature Dollhouse Scale Armoire or Cupboard

    Short lengths of basswood are shaped and glued to form legs for a dolls house scale armoire.
    Short lengths of basswood are glued to form legs for a dolls house scale armoire. Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    You can easily make interesting feet for the base of dolls house cupboards and sideboards, using scraps of craft wood. To make the feet shown, I cut two, 1 inch strips of the same 1/4 inch wide wood I used to frame the doors. I also cut two, 1/2 inch strips of the same wood, and I cut two 1/4 inch long sections of some scrap 1/4 inch square stock I had on hand. If you prefer you could also make feet from interesting beads, or simply make a plinth from 1/4 inch wide craft wood.

    Shape The Feet - To make the curve on the front edge of the feet (see photo) I clamped the 1/2 inch pieces of wood together so the ends lined up, then used files and sandpaper wrapped around a wine cork to get a pleasing curve on 1/4 inch of the wood. The rest of the length of wood I left square to form the corners of the feet. Clamping the pieces of wood you are shaping together, means both pieces will have the same shape when you are finished filing or sanding them.

    Assemble the Feet - To assemble the feet I glued the short shaped piece of wood over the edge of the longer piece of wood to make a corner (see photo above). I then glued the short sections of square stock into the corners to add a bit of strength to my legs. The legs are then clamped and set aside to dry.

    Fit the Legs To the Base of the Cupboard - When dry, the legs are lined up with the outer edge of the carcase or frame of the armoire, giving them a slight setback from the base. (see the photo of the almost finished armoire on page 1 The top edges of the legs are glued to the base of the armoire. If you wish to add a bit more strength, you can glue a short length of the same wood across the back of the armoire between the sides of the legs at the back of the armoire.

    Add Handles To Your Armoire You can add commercial handles to your armoire by using a mini drill to drill a hole for the stem of the handle. You can make your own handles from suitable beads by fixing them in place with a hobby nail pushed through the bead hole. If you prefer you can make simple wooden knobs from small sections of dowel following the instructions given for making hanging pegs for the dolls house shelf.

    Your armoire can be finished with a clear coat after final sanding, or you can use a classic painted finish, or a faux mahogany finish if you wish.