DIY miniature washboard shelf tutorial

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17 February 2022
Learn how to make your own miniature washboard shelf for your dolls house laundry room or miniature scene in this tutorial by Erika Pitera, complete with a free washboard sign to download!

This adorable washboard shelf will make the perfect addition to any miniature laundry room/scene. Erika Pitera takes you through the process of how to create it, step by step...

This project originally featured in the March 2022 issue of Dolls House & Miniature Scene magazine – get hold of your copy to see more of Erika's designs along with even more incredible miniatures!

Miniature washboard shelf tutorial

By Erika Pitera.

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You will need

Materials required 

  • 1x 1/8in x 12in square dowel 
  • Chop saw or easy cutter 
  • 1/8in thick balsa wood 
  • Sandpaper 
  • Wood stain (or paint if you’d prefer a painted look) 
  • Printed laundry sign (download below)
  • Black corrugated card paper 
  • Silver and/or gunmetal acrylic paints 

Download printed laundry sign

Tools required 

  • X-acto knife 
  • Straight edge 
  • Cutting mat 
  • Paintbrush 
  • PVA glue 
  • Scissors 

Tools and equipment


1. Start by assembling the outer frame for the washboard sign. Using a chop saw or an easy cutter, cut the 1/8in square dowel to the following lengths: 

  • 2x 2-1/2in pieces 
  • 2x 1in pieces 
  • 2x 1/2in pieces 

Sand any rough edges and set aside. Next, use a straight edge and X-acto on a cutting mat to cut the balsa wood to the following sizes:

  • 1x 1-5/16in by 1/2in piece 
  • 1x 1in by 1/2in piece 

Sand lightly, as balsa is more delicate, and set aside. 

Cut balsa wood

2. Stain all of the wood pieces and allow to dry thoroughly. You can also paint the wood, if you’d prefer.

Stained wood pieces

3. Glue one of the 1in dowel pieces in between the two 2-1/2in dowel pieces. Allow glue to dry before moving to the next steps. 

Glued dowel pieces

4. Cut your corrugated card paper to 1-1/8in wide and 1-1/2in tall, and trim your laundry sign to size (1-1/8in wide by 11/16in tall if you’re making your own). 

Corrugated card paper

5. Next, glue the laundry sign to the back of the frame at the top. Centre it so you can see the words clearly. 

Glued miniature laundry sign

6. Glue your second 1in dowel piece at the bottom of the laundry sign, in between the long side pieces. 

Miniature washroom sign

For more projects like this, be sure to subscribe to Dolls House & Miniature Scene magazine where you'll find step-by-step tutorials, fascinating features, techniques, the latest news from the world of 'mini', plus ideas and inspiration spanning across the eras. Explore the print and digital subscription offers today!

7. To achieve the look of a weathered old washboard, use two acrylic paint colours – gunmetal grey and metallic silver. If you can only find white corrugated card, you’ll also need a base coat of black paint. Just be sure to use light, even coats of paint so as not to get the paper overly wet – it'll separate if you do. 

Start with a light coat of gunmetal grey over the black base. You want the coverage to be full but still allow a little of the black to come through in some spots. 

Gunmetal grey painted corrugated card

8. Apply a thin coat of metallic silver all over, still allowing some of the darker colours to show through. Lastly, you can dry brush on a second coat of silver, this time only hitting the top of the ‘ridges’ so that it enhances the highlights. Just continue to experiment with the paints until you get a degree of weathering that you’re happy with. 

Metallic silver painted corrugated card

9. Once your corrugated paper is dry, glue it to the back of the frame, with the top attached to the second 1in dowel piece and the sides. 

Miniature washboard without bottom

10. After the glue has set, fit your 1in by 1/2in piece of balsa wood at the bottom of the corrugated paper and glue it in place, leaving about 1/4in of the side pieces remaining below it. 

Miniature washboard with bottom

11. To make the shelf, glue your two 1/2in pieces of the dowels to the remaining balsa piece on either edge. 

Shelf for miniature washboard

12. Finally, apply glue to the back of the shelf and attach it to the frame. Your washboard shelf is ready to hang! Now, find something fun like an antique iron or a jar of old-fashioned clothes pins to display in your laundry room and enjoy! 

Dolls house washboard assembled

Where to next? Our A-Z of miniatures crafts is a good place to start! Learn how to varnish furniture, create a quilt and make miniature books...

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