Making Miniature Furniture

by Hobbies

Miniature furniture includes dollhouses, wooden models of cars, train, bikes, air crafts, and wood carving, to mention a few.

Wooden miniatures include dollhouses and furniture, wooden models of cars, bikes, trains and air crafts, wood carving, and marquetry to name just a few. Most of these are built with a range of various woods, everything from craft and stir sticks to hardwood strip wood. Basswood, which is widely available in suitable sizes from craft and hobby shops is most commonly used material. The equivalent raw material comes from Obeche, Jelutong, and Lime or Linden wood.For smaller scale furniture, hardwood veneer strips are often used.

Miniature Woodwork

Mini chairs and tables
Mini chairs and tables

Essentials For Working With Wood

The most basic handtools required include accurate measuring implements and jigs for bracing pieces while they are glued. The basic tools include the following:

  • Measuring square
  • Metal ruler
  • Mechanical pencil and lead
  • Miniature drill
  • Craft or hobby knife. You can get by in most instances with a carving knife designed to hold the common scalpel blades.
  • Mini files
  • Gluing jig. To save money while you are learning, you can get by at first with small filled baking soda boxes, or bits of clamped wood, to support your work while the glue is drying.
  • Wood glue
  • Sanding and polishing materials.
  • Small quick release bar clamps for clamping work where a gluing jig may not hold.

The first step in miniature work is to use tools to accurately cut straight lines and joins, for which the tools of choice will be a razor saw also known as the Gentleman's saw and a miter box.

The use of hinges allows you to add doors, opening glass windows and lids to your work. Although you can always purchase small hinges, with a few simple tools, you can make better scale hinges from scraps of tin cans or other metals. Curves in miniature work can be carved with a Jeweler's saw or filed with mini files.

While you can easily paint raw wood with regular acrylic paints, you can also use finishes, wax, and polish designed for regular wood furniture to impart sheen and a classy touch to your piece.

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You can make rustic cabin furniture for fairy gardens or dollhouses using garden twigs. Trying to craft a detailed piece of furniture at 1/12 scale requires patience, steadiness and hand-eye coordination, that comes with time and experience. Search the internet or find books that contain designs. Make your own designs. Just keep it simple. Table and chairs are simple objects that involve support pieces like legs and top pieces like seats or table surfaces. Create other items such as bookcases and beds from real furniture designs. Purchase thin cuts of lumber to make it easier to work with. Paint and stain or simply sand and oil it for a natural look. 

Cut all the pieces out of wood, then glue, staple or nail them together to create furniture. The method of attaching the pieces depends on the type of wood you are using and the scale of the furniture. Lighter wood should be glued. Plywood and lumber can be glued, nailed or stapled. However, if the pieces are very small, glue is the better option.

Let any glue dry thoroughly and test the joints for any wiggle. Reapply glue to loose joints if needed, then paint, stain or sand polish as desired. Use fabric scraps and foam to upholster the furniture. Simply cut the foam to the desired sizes and glue it to the furniture. Then cut the fabric slightly larger, stretch it over the foam, and glue or staple it onto the furniture.

Reference sources:

Updated: 01/05/2016, Hobbies
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