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"Twas the Night Before Christmas" 1:12 scale dollhouse


The dollhouse started off as a Christmas gift in the 70's, but was never completely assembled. The pictured view is composed to two separate kits only one of which was purchased, so the other is being scratch built based on pictures. There are a few design changes in progress too. It also needs an electrical system and lighting with individual room controls.

The Original Kit

Front of the original box

Front of the original box

Front of the original box

The Beginning

David arranges walls in the original kit from the late 1970s. The box shows two kits however, so an addition was made from scratch using the box drawing.

To get an idea of layout, we placed the furniture. This helps with outlet planning as well as determines what we guessed - house too small for furniture selected. Need more room!

Front Door

The original front door looked a bit out of place with the rest of the house, so there were a few modifications.

  • The paint that had been applied years ago was cut off. An octagonal window opening was cut and filed out.
  • A custom acrylic window was cut out and engraved on the laser cutter.
  • The router bit that was used to make the baseboard moldings was also used ot add raised panels to the door.
  • The door was then stained an a lacquer finish applied.

Back Door

This was our fancy door. Or so we thought. Because of packaging, we assumed for the last year that the glass was etched. After the protective paper reveal, we saw it was plain. Well nothing scrapbook paper can't fix! I happened to have a scrap piece of vellum screen with us at the work space. It works, I like it.

Back Door Start

The door installed, with brick and wreath decoration.


Making the "basement". This is technically not a basement, but the location of wires for the house lighting and power pack. Plus, storage for furniture and extra food.

Basement Assembly

Divider Wall

Divider Wall

Bedroom / Hallway Closet

A closet was designed to fill in the place between the bedroom and the hallway upstairs in the addition.

  • A single rough sawn poplar 1 x 12 was resawn and then planed down to 1/4 inch thickness.
  • The original layout was done in with Inkscape and then imported into the CNC tool chain.
  • The CNC router was used to cut out the doors, which were installed in their original locations by using nails as hinge pins.
  • Small neodymium magnets in the door and frame keep the door closed.
  • Groves were also milled out the outside wall so acrylic display shelves could be installed.
  • The upper display shelf is down lit by a ultraviolet LED.
  • A clay rose and petals were made out of clay and UV reactive clay was used. This provides a glowing effect similar to the rose from Beauty and the Beast.
  • Hangars for the closet were designed in Inkscape and then cut with the laser cutter. Minor sanding and sandblasting provide a translucent finish that reduces slippage. The hanging part was bent out of wire.


In Process





Granite polymer clay, then textured with a stamp.

Porch Structure Clay tile sheet installed.


No dollhouse would be complete without a working TV.

  • A 2" NTCS display from Adafruit was selected.
  • It is mated to a Raspberry Pi Zero.
  • Buttons were added for testing to advance to the next media file, and also to perform a shutdown.

Hall sensors will be used in the final version, and a tiny remote control made out of clay with a neodymium magnet will be used for control.

  • The TV bezel was cut out of multiple layers of black 1/8 acrylic.
  • As the house is powered by 12 VDC and the plugs are not polarized, any plugs that are polarity sensitive have a bridge rectifier installed.
  • For the power side, the rectifier was constructed off of the DC-DC converter board.

The 12 volt feed goes to the display, and the output of the converter provides the 5V power that the Pi Zero needs to operate.

Making the staircase

  • The stairs were laser cut out of 1/4 and 3/16 basswood, and were stained with golden oak.
  • A small poplar block at the top allows for more glue adhesion to the ceiling on the lower level.
  • The banister for the stairs was cut and sanded out of poplar.
  • As the round over on top didn't look right a custom cutter was cut out of scrap steel and used by hand to carve out a ridge in the side.
  • In order to get the holes lined up for the posts, a custom jig was cut and milled out on the HAAS CNC cutter. This jig was then used to drill the angled an spaced holes out in the actual railing.

Installing brick

First the white primed exterior of the house was covered with multiple shades of gray, and black with hints of brown as well using a faux finish. This provide the base for the mortar. Next a mask was applied over the house. Custom trimming for any of the windows or doors that were already installed needed to be cut around and masked off. The textured brick finish is then applied using a putty knife and finished off with a plastic squeegee. The temporary mask needed to be removed during the process due to the time involved. After the brick texture was dry, highlights with black, grey brown and white were applied with a dry brush technique to provide a more weathered appearance.

white base

grey faux mortar finish

vinyl diecut brick grid

smearing the texture

removing the grid

finished texture

Installing roof shingles and applying age treatment

  • A big 'ol bag of shingles was purchased. Each one is individually glued on. Most are held on using hot glue, but some sections or individual ones use CA glue and accelerator.
  • It turns out that the bag did not contain enough shingles, so others were purchased. It turns out that although the design was similar the sizing was off.
  • A jig was built to hold a number of shingles and the belt sander was used to adjust the size so the length matched the original shingles.

dresses in 1:12 scale

testing the pattern/muslin

Pink Holiday Dress and hat




Staging the rooms

Media Room/front door

Parlor Room


  • A floor was constructed out of clay placed directly on the 1/8" plywood.
  • After sitting for a day after baking, the large area shrunk and cracked.
  • A replacement floor was made out of 1/8" translucent blue acrylic with a 1" diamond pattern engraved on the underside.
  • There's a hidden Mickey logo on the floor near the sink.
  • The bottom of the floor is covered with white vinyl to provide a consistent appearance.



  • As there was insufficient flooring paper to cover the whole floor, a shaped white vinyl area was cut out to cover a small section on the back wall and then follow the contour of the tub.
  • The light for the vanity is composed of a 3 LED section of a 12 volt warm white strip. It is covered by a laser cut and sandblasted piece of 1/4: acrylic to help diffuse the light.


When the addition of the second structure was planned, a space between the sections was added to house the electrical wiring.

  • The space also served as a place for the fireplace chimney, but actual installation of the fireplace did not recess this into the wall.
  • The chimney is then located above the fireplace and there was actually space for a flue.
  • As we were both kids and figured this would end poorly an operational flue was not made. This did help with wiring.
  • A switch plate was made and toggle switches were used as they have a nice tactile feedback.
  • Most of the wire routing for the lower level is on the ceiling of the basement area. The upstairs wiring is behind the crown molding on the lower level.
  • Originally switches were wired in directly, but at one point during testing the lamp in the study was producing smoke.
  • Replacing the lamp wiring a couple of times did not resolve the issue.
  • The entire bulb assembly was removed, and a less replaceable pinball bulb I had was used instead. It provides sufficient illumination at 12 volts even though it is rated for 16 volts. It has a very long life of between 6 and 7 years if used continuously.
  • This prompted the need to create a fuse box, so all wires were cut and a ZIF socket was put inline. Polyfuses were added one for a maser, and others for each individual circuit based on the expected measured current load and a bit of extra in case things move around.
  • A small holder setup to hold 10 Sanyo Eneloop AA cells exists next to the divider in the basement. For extended running an old 12 VDC power pack was also converted with a compatible connector.


  • All moldings in the house were made using router bits.
  • The baseboard moldings are made from basswood, and the crown moldings were made from poplar that was planed down.
  • A custom fence was designed and affixed to the router for each molding type. The angle of the fence was adjusted to get the desired effect on the baseboard molding.
  • For each type, two edges of the board were run through the router jig, and then cut off from the base stock using the table saw.
  • Moldings were then lightly sanded, primed and painted.
  • The moldings were cut to rough length by hand in some cases with a hack saw. A custom miter block was installed on the disk sander to allow for tiny adjustments in length.

A zero clearance cutting blocks were also made for the miter saw to help prevent tear out on cuts. To help with the tiny gaps on the crown moldings and around the roof edges an irrigation syringe was used as a mini caulking gun.

Library Study


Dining Room/other front door





This is the polymer clay bread, before shading with chalks.

Making Bread

This is the polymer clay bread after shading with several colors of chalk. The colors are scraped onto a palette and brushed onto the clay. Also, texturing is applied using tools like bottle brushes and knives.

Baked Bread

Grilled Cheese

This is a grilled cheese made of polymer clay.

Grilled Cheese



You can eat cake! Well not this. It's made of polymer clay. It can't be sliced after baking, so this was sliced before baking and will remain an example of cut piece and cake. Baking is done on the temperature controlled oven in the Fab Lab.