Monday, February 22, 2010

Tips on cutting dollhouse miniature woodwork

I wrote this for those who are using layman tools for miniature woodwork. If you use power tools/machines, this really won’t be helpful to you. Those who use cutting mat, penknife cutter, ruler, pencil, tacky glue --- this might be helpful !

Actually, miniature woodwork is not as scary, but if you develop good habits/practices, you will find that things are so much easier and quicker. I strongly believe in developing good habits, so here are some personal observations and things I do/don't do when I create miniature woodwork.

1. Make sure you have on hand a good sturdy, sharp penknife cutter for your woodwork. Keep your blade sharp, so that it makes cutting much easier. When cutting, it is important you have a good grip of your penknife, so that it doesn’t slip and risk cutting yourself. (sounds like common sense, but I have heard some folks who have injured themselves while cutting)

2. This might sound like common sense, but to me, it is so crucial. Use the same ruler for your entire piece when you’re cutting. Did you know that different rulers have slight difference in their markings? You won’t realize the impact when you cut, but when you glue your pieces later and wonder why things don’t really match up or fit into the big picture, this is the reason why.

3. This might also sound like common sense, but I will still say it because it’s important. Hold/press onto the ruler tightly when you score against the line. If you don’t hold on tightly and your ruler shifts, your penknife cutter follows and your cutting will be slanted. If that happens, you either carefully cut it back to the measurement indicated, or use a fine sandpaper to sand the sides to the correct measurement.

4. There is a tendency most people score the wood on the same line over and over again, and when the piece becomes a little loose, they manually snap it into 2 with their hands. I understand this is so much easier and faster but if possible, try not to do it, especially for thick pieces. What happens is that you’ll soon realize that it’s not a straight line after you break them, and it can cause an issue when you try to glue 2 pieces together. When the line is slanted, there isn’t enough surface for the wood and glue to bond together. If you insist on gluing the 2 pieces together, you can, but you’d realized that the piece is slanted which cause more issues which in turn you may get frustrated in the process. Always develop good cutting practice, which really helps you to go a long way.

5. Use a fine sandpaper and lightly sand the sides to a straight line if you realize they are not straight but be very careful not to overdo it, because you just might be taking a few millimeters away, which again, can cause an issue later when you glue things together and wonder why things don’t fit.

6. Don’t use a thin, watery glue. Use a good wood glue, preferably thick and tacky. You’ll find that things hold together so much easier and faster.

I'll write more good habits when I have more! Meanwhile, happy creating!


  1. Peili, this is awesome!! Thank you so much for writing this! I've always wanted to work with wood but didn't want to cause I didn't have 'proper' machinery. Well, with your tips now, I feel more motivated! :)

  2. Ahhhhh I never thought of #2 but it is very sound advise that I will always keep in mind. Thanks!.

  3. Great tips! I will copy and paste these into a file!

    There is a blog award waiting for you on my blog--but you have to tell seven things about yourself no one knows (sorry!). LOL!


  4. Great tips:) I have used to be a "snapper" on wood but will try to let go of my bad habits;)

  5. Thanks for the tips! ^ ^ i find working with wood getting really addictive too! hee hee!


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