Even before I finished painting the exterior of the Keeper’s House, I was trying to learn how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding. Why? Well, check out the pictures. Lots of fuzz, wood grain and who knows what was clearly still stuck in the paint.
Which I expected. I knew I hadn’t done a great job sanding the clapboard. Therefore, it wasn’t going to be a great paint job. But, I was on the next to last coat. So, if I want the final product to look awesome, I need to learn how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding. Fast.
An Experiment Is Born
Like everything else I’ve been teaching myself about building a dollhouse, I hit the Internet to learn how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding. I figured since this is my first dollhouse (I’m certain there will be more!), it’s the perfect dollhouse to refine my sanding technique on.
Also, I have one more coat of paint to do. So, if I screw it up, I’ll just paint over it!
I decided the best way to test each of the sanding tips was on two lengths of dollhouse clapboard siding. You’ll see what I mean in the pictures. This way, I’ve got all my sanding attempts in one place. And, I can compare them all at once.
As I walk you through my experiment (and how-to), know that when I talk about how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding, I’m talking about the kind of dollhouse clapboard siding that’s already attached to the pieces (like in a kit). Because, for this experiment, that’s what I have.
That said, I bet this how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding could apply to the kind of clapboard siding that you buy as a sheet and attach to a shell that doesn’t have it. That said, I’m going to bet this how-to doesn’t apply to clapboard siding you make on your own (as in, one board at a time). But, again, just a newbie, I might be totally wrong.
My Technique Sucks
If you’ve been keeping track of my progress on the Keeper’s House, you’ll know I used sandpaper to sand between paint coats. And, you’ll know that I used a toothpick to clean out the clapboard grooves. That worked, kind of, sort of.
When the paint is wet, it’s shiny. I bet you knew that. That makes it hard to see what might be hiding in the paint. Sure, large things, like paint bristles, are easy to see. But smaller bits of fuzz and wood grain aren’t. By then, I was stuck.
I knew I would need to sand one more time before I painted the final coat. I just didn’t realize how much. Here’s a picture of the house with two coats of paint.
And here’s a close up.
There’s clearly still a lot of work to do.
Learning How to Sand Dollhouse Clapboard Siding, One Technique at a Time
The Internet found four suggestions for me on how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding. Actually, it found four and a half for me. I’ll explain that below.
I tried each one and have thoughts on each. So, let’s dive it, and I’ll share with you my thoughts on each.
Fold the sandpaper
The first suggestion I stumbled across said to fold the sandpaper. I didn’t do that when I was sanding the Keeper’s House. I kind of did, but kind of didn’t. I sort of bent the sandpaper in half, but, I’ll admit, it wasn’t a true fold. This time, I made sure to fold the sandpaper.
I ripped off a small piece of sandpaper then folded it in half.
You’ll notice that on the right side of the sandpaper (by the Oreos) that the sandpaper isn’t flat. Make sure the sandpaper is absolutely flat when you fold it and when you sand. Using it when it isn’t all the way folded (like in the picture), only causes you to sand more clapboard than you probably intend.
I refolded it.
Then, I stuffed the folded side into the groove.
When I say “stuffed,” I really mean placed. It wasn’t a tight fit that I had to fight with like the groove filler fiasco. I moved the sandpaper back and forth as lightly as I could while making sure the paper stayed firmly in the groove. This is what I ended up with:
And here’s the close-up.
If you compare the rest of the clapboard, you’ll see it’s still fuzzy across the board. That said, there’s still stiff stuck in the groove that the sandpaper didn’t get. Is that because I didn’t keep the sandpaper in place, or because it’s a so-so technique? I’m not sure.
I will say that while folded sandpaper works, it’s kind of a pain. It was hard for me to keep the sandpaper folded, and even harder to keep it in the grooves. You’ll notice places where the paint was sanded off. I expected that. But, part of that sanding is incidental, and part of it is accidental. I had trouble controlling the sandpaper and ended up sanding things I didn’t want to.
That said, I was able to cover a lot of clapboard at once and sand quickly. Overall, I’d say it’s a decent technique, but it requires care and precision to make sure you only sand what you want to sand.
One tip suggested using emery boards, like this:
If it works on nails, why not dollhouse clapboard siding?
Fortunately, I had a brand new one I was willing to donate so I could learn how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding. I took the emery board and, like the sandpaper, stuck it long way in the groove then moved it back and forth. Here’s the after picture:
This is a close up where you can compare the folded sandpaper to the emery board.
The grooves where I used the emery board are cleaner and smoother than the sandpapered one. So, one point for team emery board. It also sanded off paint, but I feel like it didn’t sand off nearly as much as the sandpaper. However, the emery board did start to fall apart after these two grooves. Again, is that my technique, or is it just the fact that this particular emery board is kind of old?
I like how easily the emery board fit in the grooves. It was the perfect size. The one problem is that this particular emery board is rounded on the end. When I got to the edge of the clapboard, I couldn’t get all the way to the end, so there is still some “stuff” stuck in the very ends of the grooves.
I also like that the emery board didn’t sand off as much paint. Sure, it still came off, but not as much as with the sandpaper. It gives the wood a nice distressed finished. Like the wood is weather from being outside.
However, if you don’t have any experience with emery boards, you should know that each side (and sometimes each end) has different grits. If you pick a plain old emery board (like I did), you may not get an even sanding on all sides of the clapboard. You need to flip the emery board over and around in each groove to sand all parts of the clapboard evenly.
Another interesting tip involved sanding sticks. I never heard of these. They’re little sticks with sandpaper on them. I can’t find any free pictures to show you, but there are different versions. Some actually look just like emery boards. Others look like toothpicks, only wider, with sandpaper all around the edges.
I didn’t have any on hand (go figure) and couldn’t find any in stock near me. Because I’m impatient, I looked to see if there was a way to DIY it, and, of course, there is! Side note: this is tip three and a half!
For this DIY experiment, I grabbed an old painting stick, then tore off some more sandpaper. I wrapped the sandpaper around one end of the stick, to make sure I had the right amount.
I figured that was good enough. So, I got some packing tape and tried to wrap the tape around the sandpaper to the stick.
This did not work. Protip: you can’t tape sandpaper.
I tried again, only this time, I put the tape on the stick first like so:
then wrapped the sandpaper around the stick. The back of the sandpaper had no problem sticking to the tape or the stick.
Then, I angled the stick into the groove and sanded away.
I’ll save you the suspense, this was my least favorite technique. Here’s what I ended up with:
As you can see, it took off a ton of paint and didn’t get the groove clean. Not only was it not very effective, it was a pain to control. I suppose if I had taped the sandpaper in the middle of the stick, that might have helped with control. I could have held the stick on both ends instead of trying to control it from one end. However, the stick was so thick, I don’t think it would have mattered. Minus 10 points for sandpaper on a stick.
That said, sanding sticks might work better if you don’t DIY it. I don’t normally advocate for that. I think anytime you can DIY something, you should. But, this was a massive fail. I’m going to get some actual sanding sticks and see how that goes.
The last, and most interesting tip I ran across suggested using a paper bag to sand the siding. The tip says that it works like sandpaper but takes off less paint.
Here’s the bag I used:
I don’t know if I should have used a grocery bag instead, but this struck me as the better choice. It’s smaller than a grocery bag, and I wouldn’t have to tear it up just to conduct the experiment.
Like everything else, I lined it up with the groove and started sanding back and forth.
This is what I ended up with:
It worked, I’ll give it that. But, I feel like it didn’t do as well as actual sandpaper. Which is to be expected. And, it did take off some of the paint. See? (pic). So I guess, maybe in a pinch, a paper bag might work.
Here’s the big picture.
When you see them side by side (and side and side), you get a clear picture of how well each one did or did not work.
The folded sandpaper did the job but marred the paint. The emery board also got the job done but didn’t mar the paint as much. The stick took off the most paint and the least “stuff.” While the paper bag didn’t take off much of anything.
The Experiment Continues
I really liked how the clapboard looked with the emery board sanding. So, I decided to finish the rest of that one side with the emery board. Here’s what the poor thing looked like when I was done.
As you can see, more paint came off (which I expected). But, more importantly, that emery board was trashed! Trashed, I tell you! Not only was it falling apart, it was also perfectly smooth. There’s no more sanding left in that one. And this was only after doing the one side of a small house.
But, here’s a close up of what the clapboard siding looks like now.
I know it looks very bumpy, but that’s because I hadn’t wiped off the dust off when I took the picture. Once I wiped the clapboard down, it was far less grainy.
Here’s what there isn’t a picture of, though. My hands.
I don’t know if it was how I was holding the emery board, if I was pressing too hard, or what, but my hands were sore during this. So sore, I had to stop in the middle and take a break! I’m old, but I’m not that old!
As much as I like the emery boards, I can’t imagine doing it for long periods or on a larger piece. Just something for other newbies to be aware of.
There’s More than One Way to Sand Dollhouse Clapboard Siding
So, that’s how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding. I think emery boards are the best, but you might find something better. I’m going to get my hands on some sanding sticks and try those out, too. I’ll update this when I have more information to share.
What about you? Any tips on how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding? Any tip here that I missed?
Oh, and always, here’s a quick reference guide on how to sand dollhouse clapboard siding. Enjoy!