Making Dollshouse Mouldings

By Peter Fretwell
Feb 1999

Whilst a wide variety of dolls house mouldings are available there is little choice in the type of wood used. There are occasions when the exact shape of moulding is not available, or you may want the satisfaction of making your own.

At right: Fire place awaiting painting, all mouldings were made with scratch stock tool.

Scratch Stock Tool

The scratch stock comprises two L shaped pieces of metal which firmly clamp a scraper blade between them. The scratch stock can be made from brass or steel. Inside faces should be at 90 degrees to each other and outside edges radiused to enable scratch stock to be tilted in use. Two screws and nuts clamp blade in place. If you are not able to make the L shaped pieces, corner strengtheners as sold in DIY shops can be modified for use. Whether making or modifying ensure that screws used are a close fit in holes to align both L shaped pieces. Cutters are made from old craft knife blades, trimming knives and single edged razor blades.The craft knife (Stanley etc) are ok for larger mouldings, but for fine work try and get blades of about 0.3mm thick. All blades can be 'snapped' to convenient working size in the vice.  Place in vice with piece required sticking up above jaws, cover with cloth and hit with hammer, it will snap off. Hold piece in pliers and heat on gas hob or other hot flame until red hot and allow to cool. The shape, inverse of required moulding, can be filed onto a corner. Needle files are ideal for this as they are available in a wide variety of cross sections. To harden blade reheat until cherry red and quench in cold water to harden.

To use, set blade between L shaped pieces to finished size of moulding. Use with either side or top as main guiding edge and work backwards and forwards along wood with tool at an angle. Depending upon size of moulding and piece of wood being used, it may be necessary to work on short lengths to approx same depth until full length is worked. Start at beginning again and go a little deeper this time again in short lengths. Repeat until full depth is reached and both legs of tool are in full contact with wood over full length of moulding.

Once moulding has been completed on piece of wood it has to be cut off. The ideal tool is a small circular saw. For mouldings less than 3mm on max dimension I would use a large piece of wood and make two cuts with saw. Otherwise use wood whose thickness is equal to one of the finished sizes and then cut of to size. I have had best results if wood can be firmly held in vice.

Occasionally the shape of moulding will dictate that it can only be worked from one direction. It may be possible to use more than one cutter on moulding, but setting up can be difficult. Choice of wood is important, it should be of a fine and straight grain. Suitable woods I have used are Sycamore, Holly, Maple (Hard Maple is one of the best) Hickory, Mahogany, Beech and Walnut. If making table tops, mantle pieces or any item moulded on its ends, make sufficient moulding from the same piece as the table etc. and stick back on after mitreing. The scratch stock does not work well across the grain.

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