Faux Trap Door
By Deb Roberts
It’s a dilemma as old as dollhouses themselves. You’d like to add stairs leading to the attic in a small house but you don’t want to take up valuable floor space. The solution is a faux trap door that gives the illusion of a folding ladder!
You’ll need two pieces of rectangular shaped plywood (window punch outs work well), an ez cutter or mitre box and saw, brass handles, a piece of string, and basswood strips in two sizes.
Begin with making the trap door. This piece will be mounted to the ceiling and will have a mitre cut frame around it.
Mitre cuts aren’t nearly as hard as they sound once you get the hang of it. Whether you’re using an ez cutter or a mitre box, the trick is in getting the right degree of angle. In this case, it’s a 45 degree angle. The bottom of your angle cut is always even with the edge of the piece you’re gluing it to.
When measuring for the cut, make a pencil mark on the bottom of the frame piece that is even with the edge of the plywood. Make your 45 degree angle cut.
When you’ve cut all four pieces, dry fit to make sure that each corner joins smoothly.
Stain the wood (and apply a dirty wash with grey paint to age if desired). After the paint has dried, glue the pieces in place.
Set this piece aside to let the glue dry.
The next step is to make the top of the trapdoor that will go on the attic floor. This piece will give the illusion that there is a collapsible ladder hidden inside, so basically, we’ll be making a wooden box with a lid.
Measure and cut four pieces of basswood strips to fit the sides of the plywood.
Stain all the pieces and allow them to dry, then glue the sides on first, gluing the edges flush with the sides of the plywood rectangle.
Glue the two short sides to the box.
Time to glue the trapdoor in place!
Glue the bottom piece to the ceiling first.
Measure back from the ceiling edge so that your top piece is even with the trap door, and then glue the top piece in place on the attic floor the same distance from the edge of the floor.
To finish the trap door, glue a brass handle to the top piece.
Tie a piece of string to the second handle and rub a little glue into the string, then straighten it out so it will hold it’s shape.
Glue the handle in place on the bottom piece.
And that’s all there is to it! You’ve created the perfect illusion of a trap door and folding stairs leading to your attic. Whether your house is aged or new, this easy project will give that touch of realism you were looking for.
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