Today’s was all about trim work. Specifically, I wanted to paint the window trim, the shutters, and the window box. This, as I learned, meant assembling the window first. And, as I also learned, that was an excellent idea.
After my experience with the dying the dollhouse shingles, I decided that painting was the way to go with the trim project. As much as I like the idea of stained wood trim, I wasn’t sure I wanted to try it. I could have, but after all my research about wood stain and wood dye (and my wood dying escapades), I went with paint.
For starters, I could use the practice painting small wood pieces. It’s not like I can throw the trim pieces in a bucket of paint, swish them around, then let them dry (can I?). Plus, there’s not a lot of wood to paint (it’s a dollhouse after all), so even if I royally screw this up, I can fix it.
Dry Fits and Test Runs
I went back to the instructions for window assembly guidance. They specifically said to practice putting the window together first. As a dollhouse assembling newbie, I’m finding this “practice makes perfect” mantra is great advice. Better to get all the screw-ups out of the way before you make something permanent.
I started with the shutters.
Pay attention to the wood of the shutters. See how it’s two different wood types?
I decided not to prime these pieces. I don’t know why. Laziness and impatience are my top two suspects. Anyway, the paint finish ended up looking quite different on these pieces. That may be because of my painting technique. Or, it may be because I didn’t prime them.
Either way, I’ll never know. But, it’s something to remember the next time I assemble a dollhouse kit.
Next up, the window frame. I grabbed the bag with the marked pieces and dug out the ones I had marked “trim.” Then, I started assembling the dollhouse window trim. I didn’t use glue or tape. I just lined them up to see if the worked.
I also made sure the inside grooves for the plexiglass were lined up, too.
Once I was satisfied I had a working dollhouse window, I taped the corners together.
Not only did the instructions say “tape the corners together,” I knew the pieces would never stay in place as I manipulated the plexiglass into place. And, that would make me lose my mind.
With the window frame taped in place, I started to slide the plexiglass into place.
That’s when I realized I made a newbie mistake. Do you see it? Look at the picture again. I’ll wait.
Yeah. I can’t get the plexiglass in the window when all four pieces are together. See! Look!
So, yeah. Total newbie mistake.
I backed up and took one side of the window trim off.
While I suppose I could have tried bending the plexiglass to get it in the window frame, I think that would have ended in disaster (and tears). With the one side off, I can slide the plexiglass in the frame, which, in reality, makes so much more sense.
I slid the two plexiglass pieces in the grooves. This was when I learned there’s actually a front and a back to the plexiglass. It’s hard to see, but the “mullions” are darker on one side than the other.
Good to know! I’ll assume the lighter side should face out of the dollhouse.
Then, I took what I thought (that’s super important) was the window divider and slid that in between the two plexiglass pieces. This is what I ended up with
With that part of the dollhouse window assembled, I had to reattach the fourth piece of the frame. That did not go well. At all. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it on. Either the plexiglass came out, or I couldn’t line things up properly. It’s important to note that I was working with the partially assembled window flat on my table.
Frustrated, I tried this:
When I held the window trim upside down and off the table, I was able to get the last piece on. Success! Then I secured side four with tape.
Looks great. But looks can be deceiving.
You can’t tell in the picture, but that flat piece of wood isn’t the window divider. It looks right. And it mostly fits. But the whole window assembly feels loose, for lack of a better word. Like if the Big Bad Wolf came by, my dollhouse would be in trouble.
Back to the instructions to check out the super-helpful diagram.
Yeah. I don’t have that piece in there. What I have is flat. Probably as flat as the marked groove in that diagram.
Back to the bag. I find this piece:
Could this be the window divider?
I hold it up to the assembled window.
It looks right.
But, I’m not convinced, so I check again.
Yeah. I think this is the right piece.
Let’s try this again
I disassemble the window, then slide the plexiglass pieces into the piece. It works.
I even sort of put the whole thing together.
Yup. This is right.
So, I reassemble the window.
Only, it’s still not right. I can get everything to fit in the right place, but the last piece will not line up.
No matter what I do, one outside piece always slides away and ends up out of alignment.
Obviously, I made another newbie mistake. But, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it is.
Maybe assemble the window using the instructions?
All right. I guess my cowboy method of doing what I think is right, isn’t working.
Once again, I consult the instructions and find this:
That’s not exactly what I was doing. I mean, it kind of was, but kind of wasn’t. I was putting in both pieces of plexiglass, then the middle piece, then the fourth piece. These instructions advise assembling the dollhouse window side-to-side.
Does it really make that much of a difference?
There’s only one way to find out.
I did exactly what the instructions said to do. The only difference is I made sure to tape the corners together as I worked. If I didn’t, everything came apart too easily.
It mostly worked. Until I got to the fourth side again. It still isn’t lining up properly. Until I held the piece upright again.
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why that worked, but it did.
I missed something
Feeling pretty proud of myself, I reviewed the instructions, in case there were more steps to assembling the window. That’s when I noticed something about “temporary spacers.” Reading through the instructions and the parts list, I decided it had to be these.
I slid them in here, and it looks cool.
But, they’re in the wrong place. According to the instructions, the window spacers go at the bottom of the window.
Here’s the picture of the assembled dollhouse window, with the spacers at the bottom:
Cool. Looks like it’s coming together.
It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the whole window “kit” isn’t a tight fit. There’s some play in the plexiglass, so I could see them popping out easily. I’m going to guess the spacers are there to help keep it in place.
What I Skipped
For the window assembly project, I skipped the “rubber band” part.
If you go back to the instructions, you’ll notice a part where there’s a diagram of someone rubber banding the window together. That’s for after you glue the whole thing together. It’s to help keep a firm hold on everything while the glue dries. I suppose you could hold it in place while that happens, but you probably have better things to do with your time.
I did not practice this rubber banding step. But, I will before I do the final dollhouse window assembly. It was good to get some practice in first.
Here’s the other thing I “skipped,” and I’m glad I did.
If you look at the plexiglass in some of the pictures, you’ll notice there’s some funky looking scratching or peeling at the edges. That’s the protective cover that’s still on the plexiglass.
That’s intentional on my part. I knew I’d mess this up (and, I was right). But, even if I didn’t, I didn’t want to take a chance and scratch the window before I ever install it in the dollhouse.
So, my hard-earned newbie advice? Don’t remove the protective coverings until the last second!
What I Learned
It’s funny. The instructions specifically say that all of this stuff is “best practices.” I wouldn’t know. I’m just a dollhouse newbie.
But, I am learning that these “best practices” are “best” for a reason. I’m so intrigued by the fact that because I didn’t follow the window assembly instructions exactly, it didn’t go together right. It seems like it should, but…
I’ve still got a lot to learn.
What do you think? Do you have any dollhouse window assembly tips to share?