01 of 12
Make a Sink Cabinet for a Custom Dollhouse Kitchen
The dollhouse kitchen sink cabinet is shown here without its base plinth, can be made to fit a range of sink styles for a miniature kitchen. Like the basic kitchen base cabinet, you can customize it with a range of different styles of doors and countertops. We've shown it here used to fit a farmhouse style sink, but you can make it with a false drawer front where the farmhouse sink sits, to match the other base cabinets if you are using a more modern sink style. The sink cabinet, like the rest of the kitchen cabinets in this series, uses simple butt joints and hand tools, which makes this a good project for a beginner.
All the base cabinets in this series are built a standard depth, to match modern fitted kitchens. The base pieces are 50mm or 2 inches deep. If you plan on adding commercially available cabinets to your kitchen, you may want to buy the pieces before you make your custom cabinets to ensure the parts will fit together. Delph Miniatures and Elf Miniatures are the main suppliers of custom dollhouse kitchen cabinets and fittings. They have appliances and parts for do-it-yourself kitchens as well as full kitchen designs. Elf Miniatures have a very clear pdf (acrobat reader required) on how to plan your elf fit kitchen which explains how to work out the sizes of cabinets and how to fit in appliances.
The instructions in this tutorial are for a standard sink cabinet with opening double doors beneath the sink. In modern kitchens, the sink has a false or a drop-down drawer face across the front edge of the cabinet above the doors. This sink cabinet is designed to be 2 1/2 feet wide in scale (30 inches) which is a standard sink cabinet width.
All of the kitchen cabinets are made from craft wood (tilia (lime) or basswood), but they can be made from hardwoods or finished with traditionally painted finishes, faux finishes to resemble woods like mahogany or covered with heat shrink films to give them a glossy modern finish. When you have assembled all your base cabinets, you can group them and set them on a standard support plinth so the countertop is at the correct height, and make a faux marble or a faux granite or tile countertop to fit all the cabinets, sink, and appliances.Continue to 2 of 12 below.
02 of 12
Materials You'll Need
Use a fine-grained wood-like Basswood (US) or Jelutong or Obeche, Tilia or Lime (UK). You can also use a book board if you wish, it is strong enough to build opening cabinets. Illustration board/mat board can be used for a nonopening version of the cabinets. The measurements we used below are for a 1:12 scale sink cabinet, scaled to be the equivalent of a standard 30 inches/76 centimeters wide by 2 ft/60centimeters deep kitchen cabinet set to be at a counter height of 36 inches/90 centimeters in full size. The cabinets are designed to sit on a plinth or base of 1/4 inch/7 millimeters which is added to the cabinets after all the base cabinets you need are assembled.
As the craft wood from our supplier comes in 3-inch widths, we first cut a strip to the width we need for the depth of the base cabinets, then cut all the pieces from that strip. We set our cabinet depth for this project to a standard 1 7/8 inches/47millimeters depth from the back wall, allowing for a two-inch deep/50 millimeters cabinet once the counter overhang is in place.
Two pieces cut from three-inch by 3/32 inch/2 millimeters stock, to a length of 2 17/32 inches/67millimeters, you can sand this piece down from 2 9/16 inches if your ruler doesn't have markings in 32nds. If you are using a regular sink instead of a farmhouse sink you can cut the sides to 2 /16 inches, as the sink cabinet will need a top for a regular sink. As with all the base cabinets, the pieces are cut from the strip 1 7/8 inches/47 millimeters wide
One-piece cut from the 1 7/8 inch/47 millimeters wide strip of 3/32 inch/2 millimeters stock to a length of 2 1/2 inches/64 millimeters.
The sink support fits into the cabinet for the farmhouse sink like the drawer support does in a regular base cabinet. If you are not setting in a farmhouse sink you can cut two base pieces and use one for the top.
Cut 1/4 inch/7 millimeters of strip wood to form the toe kick or plinth for runs of base cabinets. The plinth should be a rectangle with a depth of 1 3/4 inches/4.5 centimeters or slightly less and a length to fit under a full run of cabinets, up to the edge of any opening for an appliance or the end of a wall. Don't cut the plinth for your cabinets until you have all the base sections of your kitchen ready to assemble and install.
These should be cut from 1/16 inch/2 millimeters thick stock, especially if you will be trimming the doors. They need to fit inside the edges of your base cabinet so you can use simple pin hinges. For our 2 1/2 inch cabinet we cut two doors, 1 5/8 inches/4 centimeters tall by 1 1/8 inch/3 centimeters wide. The size of your doors will depend on the size of your sink, so wait to cut these until you have set your sink support in place.
For our Shaker-style doors, we cut trim from 1/4 inch/7 millimeters by 1/16 inch/2millimeters wooden coffee stir sticks.
Other Materials and Tools You May Need
Continue to 3 of 12 below.
- Sharp craft knife
- Metal ruler
- Engineeer's square
- Medium and fine sandpaper
- Wood glue
- Glue spreader
- Razor saw and miter box or craft knife
- Clamps or gluing jig
- Mini drill
- Drawer handles or knobs: You can make wire handles by shaping 26 gauge wire over a piece of square stock, or you can make 'porcelain' handles from white beads with a brass brad inserted through them. Wooden knob handles can be made from a dowel.
- PVA glue or carpenter's glue
- Stain or painted finish
03 of 12
This cabinet is constructed so the farmhouse sink will be level with the top of the other base cabinets beside it. The sink is set out by at least 1/8 of an inch so it will match or extend out from the edge of the countertop which is set to 2 inches. It has been designed so the countertop will cover the top edge of the sink, a method used for modern kitchens. If you prefer, you can set the sink so it matches the top of the countertop or protrudes slightly through it. All of these methods are used to set these types of Belfast or farmhouse sinks into place.
If you are using a modern sink, set it so the cabinet is designed to match the drawer front layout of the basic miniature kitchen base cabinet.
We cut all the casing sections for our kitchen sink cabinet from 3/32 inch thick/2 millimeter craft wood. If you are planning on building a range of base cabinets for your dolls house kitchen, all the side sections of all the base cabinets will be the same depth. You can cut a strip 1 7/8 inches/48 millimeters wide the length of all the base cabinet side pieces you will need, plus a bit of spare. The widths of the cabinets may be different but the depths of all the sides for the base cabinets will be the same.
As the sides of the sink cabinet will reach to the top edge of a farmhouse sink, and the cabinet won't have a top like the other base cabinets, if you are using a farmhouse sink in your kitchen, make the sides of the cabinet longer to compensate for the lack of a top (see photo). If you will be setting a modern sink in place, you can build a sink cabinet with a regular top, just like the standard dollhouse kitchen base cabinet.
Use a sharp knife or razor saw to cut your wood to the lengths you need, and only use fine sandpaper to finish your cut edges flat. Do not plan on using sandpaper to change the size or fit of your pieces as it is hard to get a good glue to join as the pieces may become rounded. You may have to sand to get a better join, but the less sanding you need to do, the better finish your piece will have.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
04 of 12
Test Fit the Sink to the Cabinet and Glue the Base in Place
As the miniature sink cabinet doors are designed to hinge with pins, the order of construction has to be done so the pins can be inserted and covered as the cabinet is built. The doors need to be set inside the main case of the cabinet, between the cabinet base and the sink support shelf. For this dollhouse kitchen, the two sides of the cabinet carcass are glued with a simple butt joint to the base of the cabinet, so the base covers the edges of the sides as shown.
Before you cut the base or sink support shelf, check that your sink will fit inside the cabinet sides. If necessary, sand the sink or cut a slightly wider shelf. Farmhouse sinks should sit neatly into the cabinet without a lot of space on either side. More modern sinks can be centered in a larger cabinet if necessary.
When you are certain your sink will fit, glue the sides to the base of the cabinet as shown, keeping the sink free. Don't glue the sink support shelf into the carcass until later.
Allow the glue to dry before proceeding to the next step.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
05 of 12
Mark the Position of the Sink Support Shelf
To fit a farmhouse or Belfast sink into a sink cabinet, set a piece of craft wood across the open top end of the cabinet base you glued together in the previous step, and set the sink flush against that section of wood. Fit the sink shelf support beneath the sink as shown in the photo and clamp it temporarily into place.
Mark where the base of the shelf touches the sides of the cabinet. The distance between the bottom of your sink support shelf and the base of the cabinet will be the height you will need for your cabinet doors.
Do not glue the sink support shelf in place at this point, you will first need to make the cabinet doors and set the base hinge pins in place.Continue to 6 of 12 below.
06 of 12
Assemble and Trim the Door Fronts
If you are building a kitchen with many cabinets, choose the door and drawer front style you wish to use and make all the cabinet fronts using the same method. The way you intend to finish your kitchen and the time period you wish to portray will partially determine the details you add to doors or drawers.
You can make simple raised panels for your doors, or use files to shape a rounded edge on the upper piece of trim for traditional style door trims. The doors can be scored with a knife to resemble a beadboard, or left plain. For miniature kitchens looking to model the 30s to 60s, many doors were left plain with no trims and sanded with an angled (beveled) or "chamfered" edge.
To make the sink cabinet fit with the other cabinets in our miniature kitchen series, we have edged them with a shaker style trim made from coffee stir sticks.
Note: As the doors need to match, make sure any trim lines up across the top and bottom of the doors where any difference in trim width will be noticeable.Continue to 7 of 12 below.
07 of 12
Round the Cabinet Doors to Work With a Straight Pin Hinge
In order for a straight pin hinge system to work, the door edge against the side of the cabinet must be gently rounded on the side where the hinge will be placed. Lay your doors out side by side so you can tell where the center of the double doors will be. Round the edge of the cabinet door on the side, you want the hinge to be, rounding it evenly on the front and back of the door as shown. Repeat for the other door.Continue to 8 of 12 below.
08 of 12
Fit the Lower Hinge Pins Into the Kitchen Sink Cabinet and Doors
With the doors finished, it is time to set the lower hinge pins in place in the dollhouse sink cabinet. If possible, use a mini drill to drill a hole through the base of the cabinet and up into the lower edge of the door to position your pin. If you drill the starting hole it may prevent the wood from splitting as you insert the pin. If you will be making a large number of doors, you may want to use a push pin nailer, although you will still need to drill a pilot hole to prevent the wood from splitting. For this cabinet, we used fine brads or 'Dollhouse' nails. You can also use straight dressmakers pins.
Before you fit your door over the pin, check that the pin is square with the edge of the cabinet and isn't bent. If the pin is bent, straighten it before you attempt to hinge your door. If the pin is at an angle coming up through the base of the cabinet into the door, it could push the door off square which will create problems when you try to match your doors at the center.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
09 of 12
Position and Sink and Support Shelf in Position in the Cabinet
Once you have your lower hinge pins fitted properly in the doors, turn the sink cabinet over so the open end is against a flat surface or tabletop. Set the sink in place (upside down) and glue the shelf in position, keeping the doors free. The doors will be hinged at the bottom, but not at the upper shelf under the sink. Clamp the shelf into position until the glue dries, taking care not to get glue on the sink.Continue to 10 of 12 below.
10 of 12
Fit the Upper Hinge Pins Through the Sink Support Shelf
Once the sink support shelf is glued in place and the glue has dried, carefully turn the sink cabinet back right side up and remove the farmhouse sink. The upper hinge pins can now be fitted through the sink support shelf. Test fit the hinges to make sure the doors will open smoothly without bashing into one another.
If you are putting a regular dolls house sink into your cabinet instead of a farmhouse or butler's sink, cut out the hole for the sink in the top of your cabinet using a template, and glue the cabinet top in place over the sides. Cut a drawer front to fit the space in front of the sink and glue it in place between the top of the sink and the sink support shelf.Continue to 11 of 12 below.
11 of 12
Add a Doorstop
If you decide not to install shelves inside your kitchen sink cabinet, you may need to fit a doorstop in the center of the cabinet between the sink support shelf and the cabinet base. This will prevent the doors from swinging into the cabinet and will also add a bit of structural support to the sink shelf. It will also serve to help reduce any visible gap between the two opening doors.
We used a piece of coffee stir stick to make the doorstop for our cabinet, gluing it just behind the closed doors so that it stops both doors in the same place.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
12 of 12
Add Door Knobs or Pulls
Use the same method of making door pulls as you use for other cabinets in your kitchen. We used white seed beads fitted with brass brads or dollhouse 'nails' to make something resembling a traditional porcelain pull. Faceted black or clear glass beads can be used to make glass handles. Modern square metal pulls can be made by shaping wire around a block of wood the width you wish your handle to be.
Fit the handles to the doors with glue or by drilling holes for the ends of the handles to fit through the doors. If you try to push miniature nails through the doors without drilling a pilot hole, you could split your wood trim.
Finish the cabinets with paint, wood stain, or any of the painted finishes for miniatures.
When you have finished your sink cabinet, glue the sink in place so it lines up with the front of the cabinet, or protrudes slightly in the style of farmhouse sinks. If you wish, you can connect the drain of the sink to the under sink plumbing lines and traps made from flexible drinking straws.