Ok. I know that title is a bit misleading. There are lots of dollhouse windows out there. And, there are probably just as many how to assemble a window tutorials out there.
But, today is the story of how I assembled the dollhouse window for the Keeper’s House. It’s a mix of newbie mistakes (shocking, I know), following the instructions, and following my gut.
I have to say that up until this specific project, I never felt a sense of “pride” when doing any of this. I like what I’m doing, and I enjoy sharing the journey, but I never felt “accomplished.” It’s kind of like I’m doing it to do it if that makes sense. Like, I’m checking off the boxes, but it doesn’t really mean much of anything.
That’s probably because up until now, building the dollhouse has been creating a broad outline. There’s a lack of detail work right now. Yes, there’s painting and cutting, but nothing tiny that adds something personal to the dollhouse and makes it look like an actual dollhouse.
But, once I built the window and slid it in place, I suddenly got it and felt a huge sense of pride at what I have accomplished.
I think I need to get out more.
I started digging through my supplies to get the window parts and found the stairs. For fun, here’s how the paint job turned out.
That’s about what I expected. I’m glad that uneven tone is on the back of the stairs. I’m not sure what I would do if it were on the front. If nothing else, this is a really good example of why you should prime everything first. I’m 100% convinced that this is happening because I didn’t prime the stairs.
As for the window pieces, I have some touch-up work to do.
Not a surprise there, either. I debated about touching up before I assembled but decide to skip it. The reality is that it probably won’t do any good to touch up before. I’ll end up nicking or scratching it some other way. Better to finish the window and entire dollhouse now then touch up the paint later.
Dry Fit the Window One More time
As I’ve learned, it’s always good to dry fit one more time. You never know what’s going to mess you up! And, even if you think you know, you don’t.
I started with one corner,- and lined the pieces up, so they were square. That’s when I found a gap.
I pushed the pieces together to eliminate the gap, thinking maybe I didn’t have the pieces joined together quite right or. But that wasn’t it.
So, I felt around the edges to see if there was any extra paint creating problems like before. But I didn’t feel anything or see anything.
I ended up doing a light sand on it and the other pieces anyway. I feel like it’s a good idea to rough up the surface before I glue. There’s paint on there that feels flat, but paint interferes with glue bonding, so better safe than sorry. Plus, maybe there is a paint layer there that’s interfering with the pieces, and I just can’t feel it.
After sanding, I did another dry fit.
Yes, that’s uneven, and the corners aren’t square.
But, at this point, I feel like I’ve done all I can do, so on to the next step!
More Dry Fitting
One more dry fit is in order to make sure I can assemble the window. I know the corners won’t be square, but there’s nothing I can do.
So, I taped the first set of trim together.
And, it’s not totally square.
What you’re looking at in those pictures are me lining up one side of the frame with a straight edge. As you can see, the other side of the frame does not line up with the corresponding straight edge.
But that’s only half of it. Maybe with the rest of the pieces in place, it will come together.
So, I add the next piece, and it’s not totally square.
It’s hard to tell, but there’s an angle on the right side piece.
Ok. So, maybe I need everything in place?
So, I slide in the two “glass” pieces and the center frame piece. And, that kind of helps.
That’s an unfortunately blurry picture, but the “glass” is evenly in each groove. It took some doing and jiggling on my part, but I have a feeling that’s as good as it’s going to get.
Building the Window
Procrastination isn’t getting me anywhere. I start with tacky glue on piece number one.
I did my best to keep the glue out of the groove but failed. I took a toothpick and scraped it out, then wiped some glue off because what was on there was way too much. Then, I glued piece one to piece two and got this.
Yup. A gap. But it is square.
So, maybe gaps are just part of it. I don’t know.
I taped the two pieces together, let them dry, then did the third piece. When that was dry, I had this.
Looking good, except for the random paint smudges.
And, all things considered, the frame is pretty square, even with the gaps.
I’m not going to lie. I’m not sure how I did that. I’m betting the sanding helped and that I never realized that there was a layer of paint on there that messed things up. Of course, there are still some gaps, but I’ll take that over a crooked window any day!
And Now, a Diversion
So, up next was supposed to be the middle piece but without the glass. Makes sense. You don’t glue the glass in place. It “floats” in the frame. I’m assuming that’s by design. I can’t imagine gluing the glass in the frame and having that end well.
The instructions say to put the middle piece in and center it using the spacer pieces. I, of course, did not do this.
Instead, I put in one piece of glass, then the middle piece, then the other piece of glass.
I did this to check my work. As much as I believe the spacers are right (and they are), I still want to be sure. As you can see, this is the best way to see what I mean when I say the glass “floats” in the frame (the last picture on the bottom right)
See how the glass doesn’t sit perfectly in the groove? I’m betting that the floating is to help accommodate when the wood expands and contracts since most dollhouse owners don’t keep their dollhouses in a climate-controlled box (right? No, really. I’m asking).
Now, Back to the Instruction
Once I was convinced I was on the right track, I set up the middle piece with the spacers.
More importantly, I made sure the spacers were level.
Those suckers move! A lot! When I was adjusting the center frame piece up or to the side, they slid out of place. Every. Single. Time.
And, when I fixed one, the other one moved. But, eventually, I got it and glued it together.
It was a terrible combination of holding one spacer in place with one hand and maneuvering the other spacer with the other hand.
Then I waited for the glue to tack.
It’s a good thing I didn’t wait too long.
It’s Not Just About Left to Right
The thing I didn’t think about is that the center piece has grooves like the outside pieces to help hold the glass in place. I mean, I knew that, but I didn’t think about it when I placed the center piece. Even with the spacers in place, I didn’t place it right.
When I came back, I checked my work and saw this.
It’s hard to tell in the picture, but that side of the window is “up” (as in, the outside) And, it might be hard to tell, but that center piece isn’t flush with that side of the frame. You might not expect it to be flush because there’s detail work on the frame (it’s easier to see on the sides), so it stands to reason that certain edges may not line up exactly right.
It’s easier if you think about it like this: look at the top edge of the center piece. See the glue? That’s glue seeping into the detail work because I should have lined up the outer edge of the center pieces with the inner edge of the detail work.
I had a bad feeling, so I took an inside look.
Yeah. The two grooves don’t line up. I’ll never get the glass in without breaking something.
Another newbie mistake!
All though, I will say, I don’t feel like this one is totally my fault. I mean, you gotta assume that these pieces aren’t directional. At least, the middle piece isn’t, or doesn’t look that way to me. I feel like I should have been able to pop that piece in without worrying about lining it up.
The only thing I can think of is that I did it brown side down (the side with the detailing), and that messed it up. Maybe. I don’t know. I honestly don’t remember at this point.
So, I pulled the center piece out. I’m glad it was only glued on one side. In case you’re wondering, here’s what partially tacked tacky glue looks like (sorry it’s so blurry).
It’s kind of rubbery and easy to get off. Like white glue, only not.
Here’s what was left on the frame.
I rubbed off the tacky glue remnants (it was very easy to pull them off with just my fingers), then tried again. This time I put the center piece in with the yellow side down, and that worked a little better.
This time around, I held the center piece in place for a lot longer than 30 seconds, and (you can’t tell), propped that piece up a little bit to keep it lined up while it tacked. And that kept the grooves lined up.
Once the glue tacked enough, It was time for the glass and the spacers.
Up until this point, the glass had the protective sheeting on it. That peeled off, and then I inserted the glass, then the spacers. Viola!
Then, I had to put in the last piece of the frame.
I’m not going to lie. This made me nervous. Yes, I can take it apart, but I wanted to get this right in one shot.
So, I glued both ends of the last piece, slid them in place, and held it together to the count of 30. Then I taped it tight and held my breath.
Once I felt the glue was mostly tacked, I took the tape off. I figured if it was totally messed up, now would be good time to undo it. It’s not so bad. Unfortunately, there are some gaps, but, again, I knew that would happen. Here are some close-ups.
Yeah. Some are worse than others. But, there’s not much I can do about that.
Then, I had to test it.
This is not a square window but a rectangle. That means I’ve only got two options for how to put this in.
Try one did not work. It wouldn’t slide into place and was sticking as I tried to place it. I didn’t want to push it too hard. Yes, the glue was tacked, but I wasn’t confident that it would hold if I pushed.
So, I flipped it over.
I have never been so happy about something on this project until this moment. Now the thing is starting to look like an actual house. And, like the person who’s putting it together knows what they’re doing!
I won’t tell if you don’t!
I still have touch-ups to do, but I knew that.
The window isn’t glued in place yet, so I can fix it up now or later.
This was fantastic. If ever I’m feeling frustrated about the project, or anything, really, I’m reminding myself of this moment.
Crazy. But, I feel really accomplished.
Don’t give up, miniature lovers. If I can do this, you can too. Stick with it (ha! Sorry. Bad pun.).
What about you? What are your “accomplishments” in dollhouse building?