My wife asked me to make our daughter a doll house for her birthday. However, she also wanted me to make a book case too. We only had enough room for one item, so we decided to combine both into one. I Googled "Dollhouse Bookcase" to see what designs were out there. We found one we liked at Pottery Barn but it was $600, and it had to stay a Dollhouse Bookshelf forever. We wanted to give our daughter the option of only having a bookcase one day when she got older.
*I took only a couple pictures building this, and then realized afterwards I should create an Intructable. I've tried to capture every step. If Ive missed something and receive a couple of questions, I will happily edit as needed. I hope you find this to be a fun and rewarding project. It sure was for me. Thank you.
Step 1: Know Your Space
As a friend told me, know what your finished product is going to look like before you buy your materials.
We started by measuring the space where we were placing the shelf. We figured out a width and height that would fit nicely. I took the entire height and divided it evenly to make 4 shelves keeping in mind that we needed 3/4 of an inch per shelf for the thickness of our wood. I tested the height between bookshelves with a couple of my daughters taller books to make sure we were not going too short. We chose to make the shelf out of plywood. We made the base with a thicker, heavier wood that would prevent the shelf from tipping over. I used 8/4 Hard Maple for the base.
Step 2: Sketch
The size of your shelf might vary, but mine is pictured here.
Step 3: Materials
1 - Sheet of 3/4 inch of Birch Plywood - (Hint - Ask a building supply store (not box store) to look at their 3/4 dunnage lumber. Because you'll be painting the wood, it does not need to be perfect. I purchased wood with pencil markings on it. The cost was $12 a sheet instead of full price of $70.)
1 - 4/4 8' long by 2 inches wide Hard Maple. This is used to cover up the plywood edges.
1- 8/4 6' long by 3 inches wide Hard Maple
1- 6' long piece of trim. Choose style you like at Home Depot.
1 Quart of Sherwin Williams Paint
Step 4: Cut List
I cut the sheets of plywood using a couple of Kreg Mobile Project Centers. You can use any saw horses or a table saw. I used Kreg because they are a great company based in Iowa.
- Back of the shelf - 48" x 36 1/4"
- 4 shelves - 36 1/4" x 12"
- 1 Top of shelf - 38" x 12 3/4"
- Peak - 2 pieces at 23 1/2" x 11 1/2", and 1 piece 40 1/2 " x 11 1/2"
- Cut molding trim pieces from Home Depot mitered around corners on the top.
- Hard Maple Base - 2 pieces 3" wide x 14" long, 1 piece 3" wide x 41 1/4" long, 1 piece 3" wide by 12 inches long (this piece is hidden)
- 4 dividers for the shelfs - 11 1/4" tall x 12" deep
- Lots of trim- This is to hide the face of the plywood on the shelf. You can choose a trim that is as thick as you want.
Step 5: Tools
Kreg Jig & Screws - A wonderful Iowa based company. Ive used the Kreg K4 and the K5. I would also highly recommend the Kreg Wheel as pictured here. Its a lifesaver.
Drill - With A Square Bit
Nails and Screws in various places
Step 6: Laying It Out
Once I made all of my cuts, I set the project on the floor to see if it is how I wanted it to look. Please note, the top was modified after this picture. This was just to show my wife how it might look finished.
Step 7: Pocket Holes
Once I cut all of the pieces, I then created pocket holes for the base and shelves. Here are a couple pictures of the back of the shelf, and the bottom to show the pocket holes. I didn't cover them as they won't show.
Step 8: Wide Base
As I mentioned in the Cut List, you will want a wide base on this shelf. This will make the shelf more stable in case your child decides to climb or pull on the it. I always suggest anchoring to your walls too. I used Hard Maple for the base. You can miter and route this too. I then glued and screwed the base to the bottom of the shelf. I tested it to see if it would tip and and it won't move. This makes it very heavy too.
Step 9: Shelves
I had already painted the shelves by the time I took this picture. Look closely and you will see where the pocket holes are inside this shelf. I purchased white Kreg Pocket Hole Plugs to cover these holes.
Step 10: Trim
Once I had all of the pocket holes in place I screwed the shelves together. I also mitered the top of the shelf with some 3 3/8" trim I bought from Home Depot. I trimmed out every shelf with hard maple. I suggest hard maple as kids can be rough on their furniture.
Step 11: Leave the Trim Long
It is very hard to get trim to fit just right. My suggestion is to cut the miter piece you need, and leave the back straight. Let a couple inches hang off the back, and then just trim it up with a hand saw.
Step 12: Dividers
To give the shelves some additional dimension and space it out better, I created walls. Here are a few pictures of the walls I made. I cut the doors and windows by using a scroll saw. I then used a couple 2" hinges to make the doors open and close. If you do this, cut an additional 1/2 off the bottom of the door. It will save you a lot of time sanding. I then put these walls in using Kreg Pocket Hole Screws. I used White Plug Covers. I did this in the event my daughter does not want it was a Dollhouse 20 years from now.
Step 13: Removable Peak
As I said earlier I wanted a peak to the house that could be removed. This part is a little tricky and you might have to make a couple cuts to get right. My sizes are above. I would say cut the edges of the board at a 30 degree angle. It helps when nailing it together. If you make a mistake (I sure did), just add extra trim. Use felt pads on the bottom of the peak to prevent scratching.
Step 14: Finished Product
I told you I made this project for my daughter to enjoy as a dollhouse. Once it was finished, my daughter got her tools out so that she could work on it as well. We discovered pretty quickly that the removable peak of the house makes one heck of a car ramp too!
As I stated earlier - *I took only a couple pictures building this, and then realized afterwards I should create an Intructable. I've tried to capture every step. If Ive missed something and get a couple questions, I will happily edit as needed. I hope you find this to be a fun and rewarding project. It sure was for me. Thank you.
This project is not sponsored by Kreg. I bought my first Kreg Jig 8 years ago, and I loved it. So much so that I upgraded a few months back. Kreg comes out with a lot of cool tools, and it feels like I need each one of them. I work close to their office in Huxley, Iowa. I run into their people all the time and they are very nice and proud of their tools as and they should be. Thanks Kreg for making great stuff!
And thank you all for taking the time to look at my Instructable!
Runner Up in the
Design For Kids Challenge