Make Shop Counter Display Cases in Miniature and Dollhouse Scales

  • 01 of 10

    Build Miniature Scale Shop Counters

    Glass topped pastry case in dollhouse scale.
    A dollhouse scale shop display case with a 'glass' top made from bent acrylic sheet. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    Simple miniature shop counters are easy to build and can be customized with various painted finishes and trims to suit any style of shop. The counter shown here has been made slightly shorter to accomodate the height of a 'glass' display case and given a faux marble counter for dollhouse pastries, but it could just as easily be used for a toy shop or florist display. Build one, and modify it with different trims and mouldings to create custom furnishings for your next miniature shop. If you need a shop to fit the counters into, you may want to build the shop front windowbox to house your display.

    Photo Instructions for building this counter are on the pages of the step by step following this introduction.

    The shop counters can be built to coordinate with simple bookcase style shelving units or armoires to add to the display units for a range of shop styles.

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  • 02 of 10

    Build the Base for a Model Shop Counter

    Gluing a plinth to the base of a dollhouse shop display case.
    Glue sections of square stock craft wood to the underside of the display case base to form a plinth. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    You can easily build these shop counters to any size or scale. I will give you the measurements I used for my counter, which was designed to fit under the clear display case, shown in a set of separate instructions. To build custom counters, you need to determine the size of countertop you will need (width and depth) and how high you want your countertop to stand off the floor. Once you have determined the size of your countertop, cut two rectangles from craft wood, one for the countertop and one for the base of your display unit. For my countertop in 1:12 scale, I cut two rectangles 2 inches wide by 4 1/4 inches long to fit under my 4 inch wide 'glass' display top. To keep the counters in scale, I used 3 inch wide by 1/8 inch thick craft wood (basswood or tilia).

    To make the plinth for the base of the counter, I cut strips of 3/32 square stock and glued them to the base of the counter as shown in the photo on this page, settting them just inside the outer edges of the base.

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  • 03 of 10

    Shape the Countertop and Base Edges

    Shape the front and side edges of a dolls house display counter.
    Use a sanding block to create a bevelled or rounded edge on the top and base sections of a dolls house shop display case. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    The shop counter has a more interesting appearance if you finish the edges with styles similar to those you see on full scale materials. To create a simple bevelled edge for my 'marble' counter top, I used sandpaper on a sanding block to bevel the edges of the top and the base pieces. To bevel the edge, you hold the sanding block at roughly a 45 degree angle to the side edge and sand the edge to an even angle. You could also round the edges with a sanding block for a 'bullnose' style stone edge, or carve them into a miniature rope molding. Choose a finish that will match the finish you will use on the counters, carved rope molding suits painted or stained wood or faux mahogany finishes.

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  • 04 of 10

    Add Trim Strips to the Underside of the Shop Countertop

    Shaping a molding on the base of a dollhouse shop counter top.
    Fine sections of wood are glued to the underside of a dollhouse shop countertop to mimic a molded edge on the countertop. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    To extend the look of a molded edge on the dollhouse scale countertop, I glued thin strips of craft wood, cut from coffee stir sticks to roughly 1/16 inch square, to the underside of my countertop, roughly 1/8 inch in from the front and side edges (see photo). These strips will fit over the center section of the counter, helping to give a better glue surface to the countertop where it joins the base. I glued similar strips to the top of the countertop to hold my display case and prevent it from sliding off the top.

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  • 05 of 10

    Assemble the Front and Sides of the Miniature Shop Counter

    Gluing the center of a dolls house scale shop display case base.
    Glue the sides of the display case to the front piece. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    The sides and front of the shop counter can be made from 1/16 sheet acrylic or 1/8 inch thick craft wood, depending on whether you want to see into the counter, or have it as a wood or stone base. For the example shown here I am using pieces cut from a strip of 3 inch by 1/8 inch thick basswood (tilia) craft wood. For my counter, I used a piece of wood 3 3/4 inches long by 1 1/8 inch wide for the counter front, and two pieces 1 5/8 inches long by 1 1/8 inch wide for the counter sides. I joined the pieces with simple butt joins and glued them square as shown in the photo.

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  • 06 of 10

    Add Trim Strips to the Counter Front and Sides

    Fitting trim to the corners of a dollhouse scale shop display case.
    Fit the corner trim over the glued edges of the dolls house display case. The front piece of trim will cover the side edges of the side trim. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    To finish the front of the counter, and make more secure glue joins, I used 1/4 inch by 1/16 inch stripwood (or you can use sections of craft sticks or stir sticks) to cover the corners on the front. In the photo you can see how the strops were set to the front strip overlaps the side strip on the corner, helping to reinforce the butt joins for the backing sections (which can be made from wood or clear acrylic if you want a counter with a 'glass' front or sides).

    With the upright trim strips covering the joins on the sides of the counter front and the front edge of the counter side, I cut cross strips to fit in between the upright strips to give the counter front and top the look of recessed panels. (see final assembly photos for details).

    As I am making a lower than normal counter, I am not putting a shelf in under the countertop, although I could easily fit support strips and install a shelf.

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  • 07 of 10

    Assembled Sections of the Dollhouse Scale Shop Counter

    Building the three main sections of a dolls house shop display case base.
    Build the display case top, the base and plinth and the center section before final painting and assembly. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    Here are the three main sections of the dollhouse scale shop counter ready for a test assembly. The countertop, sides and front, and counter base are all built independently of each other. Assembling the counter in parts helps to keep it square and makes it much easier to get a finish coat of paint or stain before final assembly.

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  • 08 of 10

    Test Fit the Miniature Shop Counter

    Test fit the sections of a dollhouse scale shop display base.
    Test fit the top, center and base portions of the dolls house scale shop display base before gluing the pieces together. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    With all the main components assembled, test fit the sections of the shop counter together, marking the position of the front and sides on the base / plinth so you can glue the front and sides to the base with an even setback on the front and sides. If you are painting the various parts of the counter with different finishes, glue them together after you finish painting them. I will be putting a faux marble finish on the counter top, so I will leave the countertop separate, but glue the base plinth to the front and sides before painting the finish coating on the woodwork.

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  • 09 of 10

    Finish Paint or Stain The Sections of the Shop Counter

    Dollhouse shop display base and marbled countertop.
    Assembled base and faux marble counter top for a dollhouse shop display case. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    Finish the sections of the shop counter which have similar finishes. I want a basic white counter so I painted the glued base, front and side assembly on both the outside and inside and added a faux marble finish to my pastry counter top. Depending on how you want to fill your shop display, you may find it easier to simply set the countertop on top of the base cabinet, instead of gluing the top permanently to the base. Being able to remove the countertop makes it easier to arrange a display inside the counter.

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  • 10 of 10

    Fit the Countertop To The Shop Counter Base

    Faux marble top on a dolls house scale shop display base.
    A faux marble counter top with an edge is fitted to a display case base sized for a dollhouse shop. Photo © 2012 Lesley Shepherd

    To finish the miniature shop counter, set the countertop over the base and glue it in place (or leave it unglued so it can be removed easily for arranging contents. If you are setting in shelves, add shelf supports before gluing the countertop to the counter. For short counters, you may not need to support the shelves in the middle. If you build a 6 to 8 inch or longer counter, you may need to install uprights to prevent your shelves from sagging under the weight of your display.