Make a Miniature Reading Chair From Walnut Shells

  • 01 of 07

    Make a Miniature Chair for a Mouse or Fairy Using Walnut Shells

    Miniature mouse in his reading chair with a reading lamp on the table beside him.
    Miniature felt mouse poses in his reading chair with an electrified LED lamp beside him. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    This easy to make reading chair for a mouse, or other woodland creature, is made mainly from walnut shells. You can make similar chairs from other nut shells, or use air dry clay or paper mache to make something similar. As shown, the chair fits the 1:24 scale miniature poseable mouse and would also fit playmobil people or Calico Critters / Sylvanian families characters with minor modificiations. Instructions are also available to make a working miniature reading lamp from an acorn

    If you make the chair and a few other props, the scene is wonderful for many displays, including a reading of "The Night Before Christmas" or other vignettes.

    To make the miniature chair as shown, you will need whole walnuts in the shell, which have been cracked to separate the shells into halves. Instructions for cracking the walnut shells into halves without breaking them will help reduce the number of walnuts you need for this project! Other materials you will need include:

    • Woodworking Glue - or a strong PVA (white) Glue
    • Razor Saw
    • Miter Box
    • Sandpaper on a sanding block
    • Small Acorns or Beads - for feet for the chair
    • Quilt Batting
    • Felt or Quilting Fabric to upholster the chair. I used wool felt from my quilting shop.
    • Sharp Scissors
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  • 02 of 07

    Measure the Miniature Walnut Chair Parts to Fit Your Doll or Character

    Walnut shells cut to make chair parts for a miniature mouse.
    Three half walnut shells cut to make the parts for a reading chair for a miniature mouse. The back of the chair should be long enough to fit the body of the mouse from the hips to the top of the head. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    The key to this miniature chair is to fit the back so that your character figure or doll will fit into the chair. Test that your character will be able to sit on a half shell of a walnut, with the rounded back of the walnut forming the front of the chair seat.

    To make the back, you will likely need more than one half of a walnut. Measure your walnuts against one another to find halves which are roughly the same measurement across. Cut the ends from one walnut to make a section without ends, and cut off the pointed end of two other walnut halves, or the pointed end from one half and the rounded end from another half.

    Measure your figure from the base of the hips to the top of the head, and make sure your assembled back will fit your figure, with a bit of extra space to allow it to be glued into the seat section (see photo).

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  • 03 of 07

    Assemble the Walnut Chair Seat and Back

    Mouse chair parts made from walnut shells and acorns.
    The back of the mouse chair is assembled from three walnut shell sections, and acorns are glued to another half walnut shell to make feet. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    Before assembling the parts of the miniature walnut chair, sand the various shell sections against a sanding block to make sure the cut edges of the shells are even and will fit togehter without gaps. If necessary, sand any edges which stick out from the line of the other walnut pieces. Clear out any parts in the center of the shell, leaving the shells smooth on the inside surface.

    When you have all the back sections sanded on the cut edges, apply a small amount of glue to each cut edge and assemble the sections into the chair back as shown. Wipe away any excess glue. If possible, clamp the sections or use a magnetic gluing jig or some heavy boxes to hold the shell sections tightly together until the glue dries.

    Glue small acorns or beads to the base of the chair seat section as shown, checking that the seat base sits square on the bead or acorn feet. Leave to dry.


    Leave the parts to dry thoroughly. Note Walnuts can be very oily and you may need to clean the seams of the parts with a bit of rubbing alcohol to help the glue to grip the shell.
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  • 04 of 07

    Fit the Walnut Chair Back Into the Seat Base

    Gluing the back and seat of a miniature chair made from walnuts for a mouse.
    The back of a walnut chair for a miniature mouse is fitted into the pointed end of a half walnut shell and glued in place. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    When the glue has dried securely, test fit the assembled back of your walnut chair into the seat section. You may need to sand or file the edges of the seat base in order to get a the back to fit into the base so that it can be glued. The better the fit, the stronger your chair will be. The chair will also gain some strength from the upholstery which will be glued into the chair back.

    When the back of the chair will fit securely into the seat section, apply glue around the line where the back meets the seat and glue the pieces together, clamping them or holding them with small weights until the glue has dried.

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  • 05 of 07

    Upholster the Walnut Shell Chair Seat and Head Cushions

    Upholstering the seat and head cushions of a walnut chair made for a miniature mouse.
    Quilt batting fitted to the seat and head of the mouse chair and ottoman for cushions. Wool felt is glued inside the edges of the walnut shells to finish the head, seat and foot cushions. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To help your characters fit into the chair, the seat and head sections are giving a soft cushion, while the back of the chair is upholstered with fabric only. This is essential for the miniature mouse, as otherwise the tail may push the mouse out of the chair. To upholster the cushions, fill the top of the back and the seat area with small amounts of quilt batting. Cut a section of felt or fabric 1/2 inch larger on all edges than the area you want to upholster. Test fit the fabric over the batting and adjust any folds or creases. When you get the fabric fitted over the batting, remove the batting and fabric, and run a thin bead of glue around the top inside edges of the seat, and the top inside edges of the seat back. Insert the batting and fabric and use a needle or pin to tease the fabric out so it meets the glue on the edges of the walnut shells. Leave to dry.

    I made a footstool out of the flat ended top of a walnut shell by cutting across the walnut shell with a fine razor saw.

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  • 06 of 07

    Upholster the Back of the Walnut Shell Chair

    Fitting felt upholstery into the back of a miniature chair for a mouse.
    Fitting the back lining in between the head and seat cushions in a miniature mouse chair. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To upholster the inside of the walnut shell chair, cut a piece of felt with a staight edge sized to fit against the base of the head cushion, and another straight edge where it will meet the seat cushion. Make sure the felt piece is wide enough to fit inside the rounded back of the walnut shell chair as shown.

    When you have the piece cut to size, apply a thin layer of glue inside the entire back of the walnut chair between the head and seat cushions. Gently press the felt for the back upholstery inside the walnut shells, fitting it into all the odd little bulges. Leave the felt to dry in place.

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  • 07 of 07

    Finishing the Miniature Chair Made From Walnut Shells

    1:24 scale mouse posing with a chair made from walnut shells.
    1:24 scale mouse poses with a reading chair and ottoman made from walnut shells. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To finish the miniature chair made from walnut shells, use sharp scissors to trim the felt you glued to the inside of the chair back in the previous step. Trim the felt (or fabric) flush with the front edges of the walnut shells at the back of the chair. The fabric lining of the chair back will help to keep the pieces of walnut shell glued securely together.

    If necessary gently sand any rough edges on the chair. Set up your new chair in your woodland scene.