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Easy, Inexpensive DIY Wooden Floorboards for your Dollhouse – Made from Coffee Stirrers!

Brr! It’s cold outside! So I’ve stayed in and learning a new technique¬†for creating wooden floorboards for my dollhouse. And the best part is, it uses something you see around you every day – coffee stirrers!

What you will Need:

  • wooden coffee stirrers
    • I bought a 1000-pack from Amazon for $13. Be careful to get coffee stirrers with square ends. I didn’t, and I gave myself a lot of extra work, cutting off the rounded ends ūüôĀ
  • Exacto knife¬†I also used a box cutter for a few cuts
  • wood glue
  • sandpaper or a sanding block
  • a disposable brush
  • wood stain or paint
  • optional¬†a fine-tip Sharpie
  • a floor surface (either a room box or dollhouse) I had a length of plywood lying around that I decided to test my technique on

Step 1 – Decide on your floorboard lengths and pattern

I did a little research and learned that, when laying floorboards, you should avoid ‘H-joints’. Essentially, every other row shouldn’t line up with other, but rather the rows should be staggered in a¬† much more cascading way.

I found this picture to help explain things:

Notice that in the 2 patterns, the top 2 rows are the same, but after that, the correct method has a lot more staggering going on.  Of course, your method is up to you, but I like the authentic nature of having more staggering going on, so I chose to copy the top method. I printed off this picture to help me as a guide while I went.

To do this, I decided to cut 4-inch lengths of coffee stirrers for the main floorboards. My coffee stirrers were 7 inches long, including the rounded edges, so this gave me a few extra inches per coffee stirrer for smaller boards, which I would need for the edges of the board.

Step 2 – Cut the coffee stirrers

Coffee stirrers are thin and can be snapped easily by hand. But if you don’t give¬†the stirrer a little guidance, they will splinter badly. I recommend placing an Exacto knife mark on each side in the spot you intend to cut and then gently snapping. This should eliminate the splintering.

Then sand down the newly cut edge. Voila! You have a tiny floorboard!

I needed 16 4-inch floorboards to cover my 2.75″x7″ length of plywood, as well as 11 smaller pieces. Presumably, if you are covering an entire room, you will need a lot more! Get comfortable with your Exacto knife. ūüôā

Step 3 – Glue the floorboards in place

I ran a thin line of wood glue down the back of my first floorboard, spread the glue out with a brush, and placed the floorboard in the middle of the piece of plywood. I pressed down briefly and wiped away the traces of glue that seeped out. I then glued 2 smaller pieces on each side. They stuck out over the sides, but that was fine for me because I will be cutting off all the extra pieces later. If you are gluing into a particular room with walls, you should, of course, cut the side pieces down to size first.

I then prepped 2 more 4-inch floorboards. I placed them so that their seam was exactly in the middle of the first floorboard. They both extended slightly over the edge of my plywood.

I prepped another 4-inch floorboard. This is where it got tricky. Instead of placing it directly below the first row (which would create an ‘H-joint’), I staggered the pattern slightly, placing it a quarter-inch to the left of where the first row floorboard is placed. I then placed 2 more side pieces.

I then continued like this all the way down the work surface, being careful to stagger the pattern on every row.

Step 4 – Sand and Finish Edges

After placing the last floorboard, I let the glue dry for about 30 minutes. Then I flipped the work surface over and ran a box cutter down the edge of it, scoring the protruding edges of the floorboards. I was then able to easily snap off the extra edges.

When the edges were flush, I used a coarse piece of sandpaper to get the edges as smooth as possible. Then I used a finer sanding block on the floorboards themselves to make them satiny smooth. I don’t want my doll’s feet to get splinters!

Step 5 – Finishing the Boards

While these nice birch boards look good on their own, I wanted to go a little further and finish them!  A couple of fun options are whitewash, wood stain, barn wood wax, or acrylic paint. I chose Gel Wood Stain in Walnut.

I applied 2 coats of gel stain with a small foam brush, waiting 30 seconds after applying each coat before wiping back with a clean cloth.

After I had applied and wiped the second coat, I took a fine-tip black Sharpie pen, and made 2 small dots, vertically, at the ends of each floorboard, to signify nails. I think this adds a nice dash of authenticity! If you are using floorboards longer than 4 inches, you may want to consider adding nails in the middle of each floorboard as well, as floorboards of this length would traditionally need extra hardware.

I let the stain dry for about a half an hour until it was no longer tacky to the touch. Then I applied 2 coats of glossy varnish, to give it a waxed appearance. If you prefer your floors to look more worn, you can use real wax or no finish at all, it’s up to you!

 

We’re done! Tell us what you think about the coffee stirrer floors. What other DIY dollhouse ideas should we explore?

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Tutorial: Replacing your Clock Battery

You Will Need:

  • One of our working clocks
  • A new 1.5V battery
  • A tweezers or pliers
  • Steady hands

 

Steps

In this tutorial, we are using our Unfinished Grandfather Clock as an example.

  1. Remove the front clock piece from the clock. It should come right out.
  2. Remove the rubber seal from the edge
  3. Pry off the top metal cover. You will probably need to use a pliers
  4. With your finger, move the metal arm off the old battery and pull it out.
  5. With the arm still out of the way, replace the new battery.
  6. Your clock should start working again! If it doesn’t, make sure the crown on the side is pushed in
  7. Replace the metal cover and rubber seal.
  8. Pop the clock piece back in, with 12 at the top
  9. You’re done!

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Creating Vintage European Map Decor with Free Printables!

Happy Spring everyone! Okay, maybe we’re early… But we can’t wait for the sun to melt the heavy Minnesota snow and for the warm temperatures to bring some inspiration! Here is a small project that you can do in less than 10 minutes, for less than $5, using our free European map printable and an oak frame! Happy creating!

 

Materials

  • Vintage European map printable
  • Thin cardstock, in white or cream
  • Picture frame
  • Mod Podge¬†optional
  • Gold picture frame

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  • Printable Vintage European Maps

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Steps

1. Print out the map printable. See our how-to doc for more information

2. Cut out the map you want. We chose the color map of Europe at the top left. We used a paper cutter to get exact cuts, but an Exacto knife or scissors will work just as well!

3.¬†Cut out a blank piece of cardstock for matting. The dimensions should be about 2″ long by 2.75″ wide. When you put the matting in the frame, it should fit exactly.

4.¬†Glue the map into the middle of the matting. We used an Elmer’s glue stick.

5. Optional. Cover the map with a thin layer of Mod Podge. We really mean thin! Too much can soak into the map and discolor it. Also be sure to prevent the map from warping. We used small weights at each corner to weigh it down while the Mod Podge coat dried.

You’re done! We used a sticky wax to adhere the map and mat to the back of the frame.

^ Shown above mocked up in our Traditional Roombox.

 

What do you think?

Do you like our quick and cheap map printable decor idea? What other types of printables would you like to see? Comment below!

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Introducing our new FREE printables library

Have you ever noticed how many things there are on the internet? Here at Minnesota Miniatures Market, we know that it can be overwhelming to find all the things you need, especially for free.

So we are putting together a library of free printable products, just for you!

What are Printables?

Printables are images that have been scaled down to miniature sizes, for use in your dollhouse scenes. They can range from food labels to hatboxes to furniture appliques.

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How does it work?

We find printables all over the internet. We grab the images and put them into our library, for free! You put them in your cart and checkout, no payment needed. You download them in your Account and print them as many times as you want!

We are starting out with just a few, but will be adding dozens more in the weeks to come!

How to print them?

  1. Download the image from our library.
  2. Load the paper into your printer. The paper depends on the type of thing you are printing. Food labels might be best to print on thin letter paper. A scene for a picture frame would be best on thicker cardstock.
  3. Print the image. We recommend using the highest quality print job you have available.
  4. Cut out the printables and have fun!

 

What do you think? Do you like using printables for your dollhouses and mini scenes? What kinds of printables would you like to see us add?

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3 Ways to Create Egg Carton Masonry for your Dollhouse

In between making Christmas candy and wrapping presents this weekend, I found some time to put my empty egg cartons to work Рas masonry for the outside of a dollhouse! 

Today I’m going to show you three possible ways to create miniature masonry, with just an egg carton, some acrylic paint, glue, and creativity!

 

What You Will Need:

  • acrylic paints¬†I used different colors for each style
  • an empty egg carton
  • brushes of various sizes.¬†I like using foam spouncers
  • glue (white, tacky, or otherwise)
  • Mod Podge or another decoupaging medium

I decided to test my masonry on a thin length of plywood. I gave it a base coat of acrylic paint in Oatmeal. This color will come through as the mortar. You could easily use an antique white, or even a dark gray, for the mortar.

1. Rustic

I wanted to first try creating a style of masonry that belongs on an English cottage.

Instructions

I started by ripping up the egg carton. I aimed for semi-rectangular pieces or ‘stones’ that are vaguely similar in size. I used only my fingers to rip the paper but tried to avoid having jagged edges. I aimed for stones that were roughly hewn from a quarry.¬† When I had a large pile of these stones, I was ready to begin!

I placed stones by picking pieces of the egg carton, applying a thin layer of tacky glue, and then manually putting them on to the board. The positioning was very flexible. I sometimes ripped pieces further to get them to fit with the rest of the layout. I tried to maintain roughly the same distance between stones, to provide balance.

Once I had placed all the stones and the glue had dried, I was ready to paint! I decided to go with a brownish gray shade to the stones.

To start, I filled a little paint palette with drops of acrylic paint in these colors:

I grabbed a paper towel and a small foam brush and got to work!

I dipped my brush into the oatmeal color, then dabbed most of it off on the paper towel. The key to painting the stones is a light hand. Remember, you can always come back later and put more color in, but it’s much harder to take color out! I lightly brushed color onto the stones until I had a good base coat. If I found that too much pigment had been applied to one area, I used another, large foam brush to blend out the color.

When I had laid down a good coat of oatmeal paint, I used the same brush to pick up a dot of mushroom brown paint. Again, I brushed most of the color off onto the paper towel. I lightly dabbed brown onto the stones, applying color just to the edges and to the very tops of the stones. This color just added some dimension to the stones.

I then applied a layer of antique white paint in the same manner.

Lastly, I used the same small foam brush to pick up some moss green paint. I applied a thin layer of this paint to just the very bottom stones. This is the perfect look for the bottom of a house that is sitting in the grass.

After that, all my ‘masonry’ needed was a good clear coat. I gave it 3 thin coats of Mod Podge, waiting about 20 minutes between each coat.

2. Red Brick

I next wanted to try my hand at bricks. There are many different shades of brick, but I aimed for a classic weathered red.

Instructions

I created bricks by cutting up ripped pieces of the egg carton. There is a certain amount of precision required here because the bricks need to be similar in shape and size. I cut my bricks approximately 1/4″ wide, and 1/2″ – 3/4″ long.

Placing the bricks is much trickier than placing bigger stones because brick needs to follow a pattern. I applied a layer of glue to the plywood, then used tweezers to position my bricks. Sometimes I cut bricks to smaller sizes so that they would match up.  Keeping straight lines and uniform positioning is important.

When I had placed enough bricks, I pulled together my colors for painting. I used:

I started off by mixing red and brown paints on my paper towel. I laid in this color heavily with a small foam brush.

Using a regular paintbrush, I added in light accents of black, focusing on the edges of the brick. This makes the bricks pop and creates a ‘sooty’ look that would be perfect for a fireplace flue.

I applied accents of white in the same way. Lastly, I applied a thicker layer of oatmeal paint all over the top. This mellowed the bright colors and made the bricks look more uniform.

3. Gray Brick

I had some bricks leftover, so decided to test out another color scheme for my bricks.

I laid out another brick pattern, left them to dry, and then started on another paint palette.

I applied a layer of Amish gray using a small foam brush and then used a fresh paintbrush to apply accents of black and white.

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What do you think?

Which style was your favorite?

Have you ever used egg cartons to create masonry for your dollhouse or miniatures display? Show us in the comments!