Repairing an old Van Buren

123 posts in this topic

2 hours ago, fov said:

... sandwich the old pieces between two pieces of matboard, which is sturdy but relatively thin and can be cut with a sharp utility knife.

I knew there would be other suggestions. I like this one, as it involves cutting mat board, not wood, and will make nice, sturdy construction possible.

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Thanks y’all for alll the advice and suggestions. My ex was a beast but my husband now (22yrs) is awesome and tolerated my moving this in pieces every five years because he knew how important it was to me (LoL)!

So if I understand correctly that this is plywood and not Balsam? from the craft store? And plywood can be cut with a knife? I do have a woodworker in my tiny community but nothing like that available at school. Perhaps if I can buy the wood and trace pattern I can pay him to cut. It’s the notches that I don’t know if I could cut myself. 

 I measured the distance floor to ceiling and it’s 81/2-83/4 inches. 

Do does that make it a 1:12 scale? I’ve looked on line to buy and swap pieces and Amazon gas one but I suspect it’s a different scale. 

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40 minutes ago, Rebecca Williams said:

 I measured the distance floor to ceiling and it’s 81/2-83/4 inches. 

Do does that make it a 1:12 scale? I’ve looked on line to buy and swap pieces and Amazon gas one but I suspect it’s a different scale. 

Yes ... it's equal to roughly a standard 8-foot ceiling in a real house, so that makes it 1:12

36 minutes ago, Rebecca Williams said:

I like the mat idea too just not really understanding which notches to leave!? :dunno:

All of them. "Notches" is misleading -- the slots and tabs  need to be left. In other words, make the supporting mat board identical to the original piece. The pieces need to fit together like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle. 

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Okay! So is this smaller than the ones yayare working on? Just curious. 

If you notice the front section at the front door where it’s sagging- any suggestions for the piece? I might could use a thin mat board to reinforce the back but staying clear if the edges. 

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24 minutes ago, Rebecca Williams said:

Okay! So is this smaller than the ones yayare working on? Just curious. 

It is right in the ballpark for a 1:12 scale house. Dimensions vary from house to house, manufacturer to manufacturer. 

Many of us work in 1:12. Some work in 1:24. And some do both. And a few work in even smaller scales. I've taken 1:12 kits and bashed them into 1:24 projects -- a houseboat and a White Orchid. Click on my blog link below to see them. 

 I'm using "bashed" here in the best possible way, no malice implied. :D 

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Kathy

”Besides, when you look at the finished house, with all of the dedication and heart that you will put into it, would you rather see a strong, sturdy house filled with your mother's spirit or a house shattered in its bones from a brutal act of destruction?”

I agree with you about replacing the damaged pieces. I’ll look into it next week. Can you suggest a type of wood and thickness? 

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For using the matboard, I would look at it this way: when the house is assembled, any surface you can see will be covered with matboard. Any surface you can't see, because it's covered up by an adjoining piece, will not be covered with matboard.

This is the 1:24 scale version, and it's laser cut, so the wood is different, but your house will look more or less like this when it's put together:

van-buren-dollhouse-back__68713.13116105

You'd want to put the matboard on every visible part of the floor and ceiling, but not on the spots where the walls meet the floors and ceilings (that's where the slots and tabs are). You also don't want to put it under the stairs, or anywhere else that it would interfere with putting the house back together. If you're able to put the house back together without fixing the damage it might be easier to do that first, and then cut the pieces to fit.

Your house is 1:12 scale and it's made from luan plywood. If you're able to find a replacement, the box will look like this: https://picclick.com/New-Vintage-1983-Greenleaf-the-Van-Buren-Dollhouse-292592285696.html

If you want to try making new pieces from wood yourself, look for 1/8" or 3/16" birch plywood. You can get it in big sheets at hobby stores. Midwest Products is one of the brand names.

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Thank you so much! It’s great seeing it whole even if it isn’t mine... yet!! I’ll be on the look out for those products and the original! Thanks for looking into the original house information. 

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1 hour ago, Rebecca Williams said:

If you notice the front section at the front door where it’s sagging- any suggestions for the piece? I might could use a thin mat board to reinforce the back but staying clear if the edges. 

Forgot to answer this - yep, you could reinforce the back.

Another idea would be to replace that door with a French door like this: https://www.miniatures.com/Classic-French-Doors-P17736.aspx

The door has its own frame so it will sort of reinforce the hole just by being there. You can then completely remove the broken piece above the door, and replace it with a piece of basswood that's the same depth as the wall (either 1/8" or 3/16", I'm not sure). The basswood piece would sit on top of the door frame which would give it some extra support.

Basswood comes in strips of all different sizes. It's similar to balsa but balsa is much softer, I wouldn't use that on a dollhouse if you can help it.

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Hi guys!! I’ve been working so gard in restoring and repairing my house. I finale feel like I’ve made progress and curious about steps. Since I have no instructions I’m kinda flying by the seat of my pants here. 

1)Do you recommend wallpapering to a piece of card stock and then put that on the walls or just directly to wall?

2) I think I read in a post some people like to have a little extra wallpaper on edges to cover where’s the wall meet. So are you wall papering before all the walls are glued together? 

3) when gluing the walls together do you recommend I let each wall set separately to ensure stability? 

Thanks y’all!

Rebecca

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In response to #1, that’s double the work. That is recommended when the walls are hiding major imperfections or wires. #2-wrap around the corners to hide the gap. If applying paper before assembly don’t glue  1/4” of the edges of the rear wallpaper to the wall. Leave an extra 1/4” of theside wallpaper and tuck it under the rear wallpaper. Then you won’t see the gap. But personally, I apply paper after the walls are up. Are you using a pattern?

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Good Morning! 

Yes Im using patterns for the most part. The chair railing needs to be repainted and I’v Ordered ceiling paper but that will not come in until after these steps are done hopefully. So the ceilings will be last along with the floors. I’m sure using a pattern helps  not seeing a double run in the pattern.,?

Have you got any suggestions for floors besides a wallpaper? 

Thank you

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Hi Rebecca, I just finished rehabbing my childhood dollhouse, which had not really been damaged over the years just neglected, but still needed a lot of work. It was definitely a labor of love, it's wonderful to resurrect a beloved dollhouse and all its memories! I used wood flooring sheets from Houseworks for my house, which are thin strips of wood veneer attached to paper and I loved how they turned out. I polyurethaned the sheets, used paper to make templates of my floors, and then cut the sheets out and taped them in with strong double-sided tape.  You can find them in the flooring section at miniatures.com and they come in several different types of wood.

Good luck! I was also brand new to the world of miniatures when I took on this project, but have been thoroughly sucked in and just started my first dollhouse kit from scratch :-)

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More specifically, are you using a pattern like a plaid where you have to match the pattern at each corner?

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So I am using a plaid on the 3rd floor with the waves dropping in. Ha!!!! That’ll be s trick huh?

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I usually get an extra sheet of whatever paper (usually scrapbooking paper in wee prints) to drop match the patterns in the corners (I have papered many 1:1 walls).  I also usually decorate as I build, depending on what the dry fit shows me.  If I'm going to scribe the wood floors I go ahead and do that and finish them as I'm building, and I also do the ceilings on the other side.  Usually I make do with paint or decoupage finish on ceilings.  In addition to scribing the floors I cut iron-on wood veneer strips into "boards" and spot glue them into place when the walls are up (after I have primed the walls) and iron them down once the floors are all laid.  I have also been known to paint my floors, usually to simulate linoleum in the kitchen or for  fancy background for a decoupaged finish or to simulate marble or stone, which need other parts of the floor masked off, so easiest to do before assembling the entire house.  Paint sample chips also make lovely floor tiles, and I like to do bathroom floors with those.

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Awesome ideas. Are you scrubbing floors on a flat sheet of wood?  I’ve ordered some ceiling paper to camouflage the damage that I feel pretty proud about how well it turned out. 

Right now I’m making templates for the wall paper on first and 2 Nd floor. Was dreading that so wanted to get a bunch of that time consuming stuff out of the way. What am I saying, it’s all time consuming!! 

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So all but 2 doors got knocked off. Some hinges are still hanging around. Is it better to take them out then place back or try and work with them from the hinge? Not sure all the nails are there. 

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I scrub scribe the floors directly into the floor of the kit holding my utility knife upside down so I use the back of the knife blade and I use a cork-backed steel ruler to keep the lines straight.  Once the "boards" are scrubbed scribed into the wood I poke nail holes into each end with an awl and then I rub the stain into the wood with an old teeshirt rag.  When the floor is the color I want it and the stain is all dry I "sand" it with a piece of crumpled brown paper bag for a wonderfully smooth, satiny finish.

For the doors I would go ahead and take everything off and trace the opening onto a piece of scrap paper.  Then I would take some 3/16" stripwood and cut it into lengths to make a box to fit the door opening, making sure it's nice and square.  then I would trace around the inside of the box to make a pattern to cut a new door.  When you have finished off the door however you want it to look, set it into the stripwood box and carefully hammer a straight into the top and bottom through the box and door edge until you have about half of the pin in, then clip off the excess pins and glue the box into your door opening.  You can make new trim to go around the door opening that will cover the sides of the box.

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Wow your floors sound amazing. My mom has already stained the floors so I’m wondering if I could still try that on them to Jazz I’m up a little. I was going to “ freshen” the stain up anyway. But I’ll need to get creative on the 3rd floor and top exterior floor because they were what was damaged. 

Speaking of stain.... I’ve also been doing major repairs to almost every piece of furniture she made. Creating legs, parts, gluing the entire pencil post bed together it was all in pieces. Ugh. But progress is being made. One problem I’m finding is she used a mahogany stain I reckon the one recommended in the House of Miniatures furniture kits. This apparently covered prestains,stain, poly,varnish etc. So I can’t seem to match the shade and she had other kits she never got around to and I want them to match. Any suggestions? Stores have Bombay mahogany and Red mahogany but no plain Jane mahogany anymore in minwax. Xacto doesn’t seem to carry or I’m looking in the wrong place. Rustoleums mahogany was red red. I’ve even tried mixing a couple of colors but that’s getting tricky. Appreciate any advice there. 

Also I failed to mention that I actually have all the doors!! Only 2 remained on their hinges though. A few repairs and touch up on those was easy enough. I may need some nails and hinges tho. I’m just not sure if they should go in now before wallpaper and etc. 

House primed and I’m exhausted. 

 

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If you have the doors and don't want to pin-hinge them (you'd probably need to trim & sand them if you did) you could cut a piece of chamois into strips 3/16 wide and fold them in half lengthwise and glue one half of the strip to the hinged edge of the door and the other to the edge of the door opening and then glue the hinges on for decoration, but the chamois strips would actually be the hinges.

If you can fix the ruined floors without replacing them and they're already stained you can use the iron-on veneer.  I get the red oak and cut it into 6" lengths and 1/4" widths.  As long as you keep the glue for a temporary hold to wee drops and don't get any glue on the surface they take stain wonderfully.

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