I finally had a chunk ‘o time to work on the Keeper’s House. Instead of attaching the shingles, I decided to work on the floor. I have no good reason for this other than: because I wanted to. That said, I’m really glad I did the floors first. I learned a lot about wood glue, tacky glue, and balsa wood strips (and how they all play together. Spoiler alert: not always well).
As the title suggests, I worked on this over three days. In reality, it was an hour here, two hours there, etc. I could have completed this all in one day, but honestly, I’m glad I didn’t. This wasn’t a hard project, really, just a little annoying at times. But having everything set ahead of time helped because laying a dollhouse wood floor takes time and patience. I have both, but I would have run out if I tackled this all at once.
A Top-Down Approach
I started with the second floor, figuring it would be A) easier to do since it’s more accessible, and B) harder to do because of the stair opening. I was mostly right on A, and totally right on B. For reference sake, here’s the second floor, pre-wood floor.
I started with the second-floor bag of floor (that’s so darn redundant!).
Interesting observation: as you can see, the floorboards are in a sealed plastic bag, and there’s a piece of paper in it. The paper says “second floor,” not that that matters. When I opened the bag and spilled out the wood strips, I noticed that they felt damp, for lack of a better word. Ditto on the paper.
My crafting stuff is in the basement, which is kind of damp (not gross damp, just normal damp), and just before I did this project, it did rain quite a bit. But, the bag was sealed and inside another plastic container (a set of plastic drawers to be exact). It struck me as odd, and I can’t quite figure out why that happened. My working theory is that I didn’t let the balsa wood strips dry long enough after dying them, and there was excess moisture in the wood.
I don’t know. I got nothing else.
I spilled the wood strips out and let them air out while I got organized.
Said organization started with locating the template and placing it on the second floor to make sure it still matched. I know that sounds weird, but I’ve moved the template around a bit and I’ve folded it once or twice, so better safe than sorry!
Then, I pulled out the tacky glue and the wood glue.
I figured this would be a great time to experiment with glues. If something doesn’t stick, no big deal. It’s not like the shingles that would slide off or a window that would fall out of the opening. If a floorboard pops up, no problem! Try another glue.
The next step was making sure I had all the floorboards. You never know. So, I went through, found the numbers, and matched them to the template. Mostly.
I didn’t bother following the exact pattern. It was more about matching the numbers. Do I have all of row 18, 24, 36, that kind of thing. I also didn’t bother lining up the smallest of the small because I knew they’d get lost, so I just put them off to the side.
The trouble with the curve
Of course, I knew going in that this wouldn’t be smooth sailing. Not because anything had already happened, but because this is me! Something has to go wrong!
Well, I wouldn’t call this wrong, per se.
I thought this might happen. Over on Instagram, someone had warned me to weigh down the balsa wood strips while they were drying after the dye bath otherwise, they could warp. Of course, I had already dried them, so there wasn’t much I could do, and a few warped. It happens.
Some warps were obvious, like in the picture. Others were less obvious, and I didn’t realize they were warped until I glued them down, and the ends popped up. Sometimes, it was the middle that warped. There weren’t that many, but let’s say there were more warped boards than I would have liked.
Not Quite Perfect
I also knew before I started this that the ends of the boards wouldn’t be even, and you can read about that here. What I wasn’t expecting was quite how badly I messed up some.
The row in the background with the sticking out board? Yeah, I don’t know what happened there. Not only is it too long, it’s warped. So, I’ll be skipping that one.
Also, in the middle, the row with the missing board (24, in case you’re wondering), I straight up couldn’t find the board.
Again, I have no idea what happened. But, I’ve got leftover boards from test runs, so I’ll just cut a new 24 and call it a day!
Now, the Real Work Begins
Once I had accounted for all the boards (mostly), It was time to do the real work.
If you refer back to the top picture, you can see I’ve still got painter’s tape around the edges of the floor. That’s sheer laziness on my part. Well, that’s not totally true. In my head I was thinking it makes sense to leave the painter’s tape on because I plan on doing one more coat of paint, so why not leave the paint on to protect the floor?
Because I’m adding more floor first, then more paint. I just didn’t think that all the way through!
While I suppose I could glue the floorboards on to the painter’s tape, I don’t think that’s the wisest idea, so up it comes. And, I find this:
That’s not the greatest picture, but the floor is “stained” for lack of a better word. It doesn’t matter since I’m covering it, but it was interesting to me. I wonder what else that “subfloor” will soak up?
I don’t want to have to rematch all the boards, so I leave the other rows in place while I’m working. It helps me keep track of what I’ve done and what has to be done. If nothing else, if I try to lift a board and it doesn’t move, I know it’s done!
Row One, Test One
I decided to test the tacky glue on row one. Flipping board one of row one (like Battleship!) over, I make five tacky glue dots along the back. I know it’s the back because of the number.
I didn’t make a line of glue because I figured that would be too much tacky glue. I’m probably right about this, given what happened when I pressed the board in place. As I placed the board, I made sure to slide it all the way over, so it’s flush with the wall.
Ick. But, no big deal, I can wipe that off , and tacky glue dries clear.
Once I wiped the glue off, I took a spare board and used that as a straightedge to line up the edge of the floorboard with the edge of the subfloor and the outer edge of the dollhouse.
Then I attached the remaining two boards of that row using a line of tacky glue and the same straight edge procedure. And that was that!
If that sounds like a lot of work for one row, it is. But if I didn’t get that first row right, I’d be screwed. If row one was crooked, the rest of the floor would be to, and the last row would never go in correctly.
Row Two: Test Two
For the second row, I decided to try the wood glue. It looks like mustard.
Actually, in the picture, it looks like mayo mixed with catsup.
Anyway, I laid the boards in place then found a surprise.
Yup, hidden warped board, so I held the ends in place while the glue dried.
The thing is, I had to fight with the board a bunch. I’d think the glue was dry, take my hands off, and, it would pop right back up!
Yeah. I went this route, so I could keep my hands free.
And, the reason I had to keep my hands free was because of row one.
Part two coming soon!