As I’ve established, I’m not much on following the rules. Sure, I’ll stop for red lights. That’s an important rule. But, following instructions? Not so much.
Until I get lost. Then, well…
I followed about half of the Keeper’s House instructions. That is, I followed the instructions for assembling the dollhouse for steps one through eight. Because I kinda had to.
But, I was supposed to sort, identify, and label the pieces before I started building.
I tried to do that on unboxing day but gave up. Not because I didn’t want to, but because it seemed so overwhelming to me. I wanted to test fit the pieces in the dollhouse before I tried building it (with glue). I couldn’t do that with a bunch of unidentified parts.
Plus, there was a lot to identify, as you’ll see. So, instead of following the instructions, I pulled out the big pieces and skipped ahead to assembling them. And, here we are!
That said, I’ve reached the point where I need to start painting or staining the small pieces because it’s time to put them on the house. Like it or not, it’s time for me to identify those dollhouse pieces, one by one
Let’s Start at the Beginning
The first thing I did was get the instructions. Ironic, I know. But, I knew I’d need them for this. Here’s the full list of all of the parts I’m supposed to have for the Keeper’s House:
There are some helpful pictures of what some pieces are supposed to look like. Notice how I used the word “some” twice. There are some pictures, that’s true. But those pictures include only some of the pieces. And, personally, I didn’t find the pictures that helpful.
If you’re thinking they look like photocopied pictures, I’d agree with you. These are black and white pictures that are kind of OK. But really, they’re more of a guide. You’ll see what I mean.
You’ll also notice in that last picture the supplies I used for this project: a pencil and a ruler. The ruler is not from the 1980s. I swear it’s from this century. Some things just never go out of style. These are important because first of all, sometimes the only way to identify a part was to measure it. Secondly, once I identified it, I labeled it because I am not doing this more than once!
Missing from the picture are the sticky notes I used to label the parts. Because the parts are wood, you can write the name of the part in pencil. But, that’s not my thing, so sticky notes it is. I managed to misplace the sticky notes while I was sorting and measuring, and resorted to another set. Don’t ask.
This Is Easy
I started with the easy stuff.
That’s the bag of shingles. I did not feel a need to label said bag. Instead, I just put it off to the side.
First, I grabbed random but obvious parts out of the pile and labeled them.
There’s four of these, and they’re rubber banded together. Also, there’s a helpful diagram of them in the instructions. pic
So, I did the same with the window and the door.
I figured I could do the same thing with everything else. If there’s four of a piece, measure it out and match it up to the inventory on the instructions.
That did not work.
I struggled to try to figure out which piece was what based off an inventory number (1, 2, 3, 4) and a size (5 and 5/16 or 6 and 2/16).
I needed a better method.
Let’s Try This Again
The “grab and go” method was not working. So, I sorted everything out and put like things together. I ended up with this pile:
As you can see, there are four of some items, one of some items, and whatever else there is.
Then I had to guess what was what.
I referred back to the picture. Some of it was useful.
Note the shutter information.
But, some of the other stuff is less obvious. If you look back at the picture of the parts list, you’ll sort of see where the middle window frame and trim are marked. I have no idea what those pictures correlate to in terms of parts.
So, this time, I had to actually follow the instructions (gasp!).
I took each part (or one of each grouping of parts) and started measuring.
The first piece I grabbed was this one:
It measures approximately 3 and 5/16 inches. It’s also angled on both ends.
As a newbie, I have no idea what this is. There’s four of them so it could be part of a frame. Or, it could be something that fits into an angled corner. There’s no picture of this particular piece, so I’ve got nothing to go on. At that point, I have to refer back to the list.
Turns out I’m right. It’s window frame. Go me! (And, thank you, instructions, for listing each piece by its size.)
If only the rest of this could be so easy!
Measuring Still Helps, but Isn’t Always Helpful
Next, I grab these:
Based on the pictures in the instructions and my estimation of the size of these pieces (before I measured), I guessed that these were the stair stringers.
I was wrong.
It’s hard to tell in this picture, but that piece is 7 and 11/16 inches long (give or take). The stair stringers are 10 and 7/8 inches long. These are not stair stringers.
So, what are they?
Again, back to the instructions and it seems that, based on the measurement, they’re the vertical door trim. OK. Sounds good.
I put those off to the side and dig through the pieces, looking for the horizontal door trim piece. I assume it will be wood in the same color and angled on both ends. It should be 3 and 5/16 inches long (with angles). I find it then, confirm it’s the right piece by measuring, then check my work by constructing the door. Here’s how that went:
That’s not right.
I refer back to the picture on the box (I stole this one from the catalog), and it looks like it’s right, right?
But, obviously, it can’t be right. There’s clearly going to be gaps in the door, and this kit didn’t come with decorative corner pieces. I figure they’ve got to be for the inside door trim, but I don’t know. I put the pieces aside and move on to something else.
Figuring out What I Can as Best as I Can
The next piece I measure is this:
As you can see, it’s an “unfinished,” for lack of a better word. It’s just over 10 inches long (I didn’t line it up right), and there’s two of them. That makes them the eaves. Cool.
Then there was this:
There’s only one, and I figured it was the flower box. I figured wrong. I ended up putting this one off to the side for a while. Turns out it’s the one piece of trim. But, I don’t know where the trim goes. The parts list just says trim. I’m sure it’s in the step-by-step instructions, and I’ll find it later.
When things come together
Then, I attacked the window. I quickly figured out which four pieces were the window trim. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but these are thick pieces of wood that have a groove in the center where you fit the window.
This is a partly assembled window. No, the window pieces are not in the groove:
Fortunately, the parts list states exactly what should go with the window. So, the next thing I looked for was the middle window trim. I guessed it was this long, flat piece, and I was right.
Here’s a side picture of the middle trim in the window so you can see how the whole thing will fit. In this picture, you can see the center groove for the window:
Next up, I grabbed the pieces that I assumed were the shutters. The measurements proved me right:
Here are the shutters next to the window. I’m not going to lie. Getting this far and seeing something as simple as a window coming together is crazy exciting.
As I identified pieces, I crossed them off the parts list. Using the process of elimination, I was able to figure out that this piece (there’s four of them) were part of the interior window trim:
With that last set of pieces, I had everything I needed for the window. So, I bagged it all up so I wouldn’t lose track of them again:
The sticky note system is just OK. They fall off easily. At least, this way with the sticky notes in the same bag as the pieces, I can figure out what’s what without having to go all the way back through the whole list!
Leftover Pieces Is Never a Good Sign
That left me with these four pieces:
I started measuring again. This first piece is 3 and 8/16 inches long, and there’s two of them.
There is nothing on my parts list that matches these parts. Ditto on the small piece. Maybe they’re extra? I don’t know. Maybe the measurements are wrong? I don’t know. I’ll find out, though. I’m sure of it.
That left me with this lonesome piece. It is 10 and 7/8 inches long: pic
The exact length of the stair stringer. Fantastic! But, wait…
There’s only one of them, and the parts list shows two.
I referred back to the instructions and this picture: pic
The stairs are pushed up against the outer wall. And, given how tight that fit is, maybe I don’t need two stringers? Maybe it’s a typo? Or, I’m short a stringer. It’s possible there’s still something in the box. I don’t know. We’ll see.
I knew there’d be a lot of pieces, but I wasn’t expecting that level of detail! It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but wow. Just wow.
With everything (mostly), identified, I can now figure out which pieces I’m going to stain, and which ones I’m going to paint. Exciting times.
And, as I assemble, I’ll figure out what goes where, exactly. I’m still not sure about the door trim. So, I’ll have to figure it out as I go.
Yes, I know, I didn’t go through every piece here. There’s a lot. But, as I assemble the pieces, I’ll show you each one, so you don’t have to do what I did.
Any ideas on the pieces I missed? Do I really need two stair stringers? Am I short parts? Did I misidentify the parts? Let me know in the comments.