Today was an actual build day!
Well, not exactly.
I knew from yesterday that there were a few things I had to do first. That’s where I started.
First Things First
The first thing was squaring off the door, window, and stair openings. According to the instructions, the openings are a bit rounded when the kit is finished and sent, so it’s up to me to square them off. I’m supposed to take a knife and make two cuts along the openings into the corners. Fortunately, I have an Exacto knife at the ready.
So, I looked at the stair opening first and wasn’t really sure what I was seeing. I mean, I can see the opening, but it looks fine to me. Here’s what I saw:
It looks pretty squared off to me. But, upon closer inspection, I get what they’re talking about
I made the cuts (sorry, no pics. It was just me) and it was pretty easy. Using the Exacto knife was the way to go on this! Here’s what it looked like after
I did the same for the window and door. But, as I was looking at my work, I wasn’t so sure I was doing it right.
I figured I better check, so I got out the stairs, door and window.
Starting with the stairs
The stairs come in two separate pieces. I don’t know why but I’m sure I’ll find out. I had to figure out how they go together. After a bit of fussing and fitting, and referring to the diagram, I settled on this:
Here’s what it looks like standing up
Yes, my basement is messy. Moving on.
I took the top half of the stairs (because that’s what’s going to attach to the opening), and held them together. This is what it looks like from the back.
The stairs are kind of centered because I need room on one side to attach it to the house and the rail goes on the other side. I think this will work. We’ll see.
On to the door
Then I slid in the door. From the back, it looks perfect.
From the front, a little less perfect. Here’s a close-up.
See the gaps? That’s where I squared things off. Only, they don’t look so square. I’m going to leave it because I’m afraid that if I square it off too much, I’ll have an even bigger gap. I’m going to bet wood putty or filler will help out here.
On to the Painting
I know this is a controversial thing. Some say you should paint before you assemble, others say you shouldn’t. Since I’ve never done this before, I went with the instructions. They say to do one light layer without sanding first and to keep the paint out of the grooves.
OK. Sounds good.
I ran out to Home Depot and got these.
The wood stain is for the door and window trim (I think) and maybe the stairs. The paint, I know is primer and sealer. There are those who say don’t use a primer and those who say to use a primer.
This is what they had in stock in my store.
Also, it’s oil-based. Again, that’s what was in stock. I suppose I could wait until there is other stuff in stock. But, there’s also plenty of advice that says use an oil-based not a latex-based (or water-based) paint because it’s better for the dollhouse (in terms of the wood, I guess?).
That didn’t sound right to me so I ran back to the Internet to check and couldn’t find opinions one way or the other, so I stuck with what I had.
This is my first mistake. Oil-based paints are awful.
First, they smell. I didn’t have a mask, but I was only doing three pieces (more on that in a minute), so I figured I’d live. Second, they are very runny and dripped down the side. Third, what a pain to clean up! Fourth, my basement stank afterward!
My advice, water-based paint. Lesson learned.
I decided to just do the outside for this go round. I was a little short on time, and I’m not sure what color I’m doing on the interior walls just yet, so I’m going to wait. Hopefully, this is the right call.
Like I said, the paint is runny. I quickly figured out that I needed to put a tiny dab on the brush then start in the middle of the piece and work my way out to the edges. That helps minimize the dripping. I managed to keep the paint out of the grooves, but what a pain. I went side to side (the direction of the clapboard) to get a smoother, more even finish.
It doesn’t look like it in the picture, but really, it’s a decent finish.
Here’s a finished piece and an unfinished piece.
As I was painting side number two, I noticed that the clapboard was a little loose in one spot.
There was nothing I could do while painting, so I made a note to check on that when the pieces are dry.
The painting was easy. Maybe about 30 minutes. Then I had to clean up.
Cleaning Up Means Setting Up First
Fortunately, I have mineral oil lying around, so cleaning up the brush was pretty easy. I just squirted some mineral oil on the brush and rubbed, rinsed, and repeated until clean. Ditto for my hands. After I put everything away, though, I noticed some paint spots on the ping pong table.
They scrape right off so no harm, no foul. But, I’m going to need a different workspace for the rest of my painting.
Once those pieces are dry, I’ll start assembling things. I think. I’ll have to recheck the directions.
Thoughts? Advice? Would you have done it this way? Have I ruined it already? Let me know in the comments!