Are you preparing to buy your first dollhouse kit, and aren’t sure which of the hundreds of options are right for you? First, you’ll want to know whether you are looking for a house for a child or for an adult collector, as they are built differently. Children’s dollhouses kits tend have minimal architectural features and are made of thicker wood that will stand up to play. Meanwhile, for adult collectors the focus is on architectural detailing and proper scale.
Many collectors’ dollhouses kits are diecut, also known as ‘tab and slot’ collection because each piece has a tab that is inserted into a slot on another piece. The box contains several sheets of thin plywood, with pieces stamped into the wood. The individual pieces will then need to be punched out from the sheet. This allows for intricate pieces such as gingerbread trim.
Made of 1/8″ plywood, the result is a lightweight yet sturdy home with all of the architecutural features miniature collectors look for. Many collectors find them straightforward to assemble with spectacularly detailed, realistic, and true to scale results. Diecut tab-and-slot dollhouses kits are assembled using glue, and don’t require nails. Such kits contain all of the components needed to complete your dollhouse, and are surprisingly economical.
There are a few potential downsides to consider when purchasing die-cut dollhouses kits. First, you’ll need to sand and primer the wood, because the plywood in such kits is not perfectly smooth. In addition, because the pieces come flat, you will need to assemble every tiny piece of the staircases, windows, and doors. Finally, because of their fragile architectural details, it’s best not to let children play with the house.
The other major type of dollhouse kit made for collectors is a “glue and nail” kit, made of plywood or fiberboard (MDF). Also known as a cabinet-grade dollhouse kit, it uses 3/8″ thickness pieces which come pre-cut and ready to assemble. The downside is that such materials are thicker, resulting in a bulkier and less refined appearance. However, this makes them a much better choice for miniaturists who plan to let their kids play with the dollhouse. The wood is very good quality, with a smooth surface that is ready to paint or wallpaper.
These dollhouses tend to be larger, which allows for more space to display your miniatures inside, but also means that you’ll need more space in which to display the home. Such houses must be assembled with glue and nails, which can be trickier for beginning miniaturists to master. You may also find need for power tools if you want to modify the house, because the thick wood is not as easily cut with hand tools, and you will need assistance when it comes time to assemble the walls, which are heavy and hard to maneuver alone.
Both types of dollhouse kit have both good and bad features. It is up to you to determine which of these factors are most important for you, and to choose dollhouses kits accordingly.