Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Everything you wanted to know about wiring but were afraid to ask

If that title sounds familiar, you're over 40. LOL!

All jokes aside, I do have some awesome information about wiring a dollhouse to share with everyone. I think I've mentioned that I'm the editor in chief of the Greenleaf Gazette. The Gazette is the monthly newsletter/e-zine from Greenleaf Dollhouses. If you're not a subscriber yet, sign up! I'm not just promoting it because I'm the editor either. We put helpful information about building dollhouses and miniatures, tons of tutorials, and sometimes just excellent eye candy in your inbox every month. There's no advertising or spam either. I include updates and featured kits from Greenleaf but that's dollhouse news, not advertising! LOL! When kits like the Beaumont are re-released in laser cut, that's news that any dollhouse builder or collector wants to hear about! But that's just in the "hot news" section, the main content of the newsletter is tutorials and articles about dollhouses and miniatures.

The issue with all the wiring information is the February 2009 issue. You'll find all the articles on this page. Here are the links to the individual articles as well:

"Why Put Lights in a Dollhouse?" To Light or not to Light" by Deb Roberts

Dollhouse Wiring 101 - The basics of electrifying and troubleshooting wiring for your dollhouse" by Deb Roberts

Plug and Play— Using the round wire method (and hiding wires) by Deb Roberts

Hybrid Wiring—Combining Round Wire with Tape Wire
By Christine Errico

Hard Wiring a Front Opening Dollhouse
By Christine Errico

Darrell’s Electrification Guide: Tape Wiring and More
By Darrell Payne

Regardless of what kind of lighting you want to do or even if you've wired a dollhouse before, I recommend reading the article on Wiring 101. It's a nice little glossery of terms and a breakdown of things like what hardware and tools you'll need, the different methods of wiring you can use, how to tell how many bulbs your transformer can handle, and lots of pictures of what wiring components look like. There's also a section on troubleshooting wiring problems. That article has been picked up by Dolls House Magazine and will be running sometime this winter but you can beat the rush and read it directly on the Greenleaf newsletter.

If you've never wired before and are considering where to start and what kind of lighting you want to use (light fixtures, baby spots, ambient lighting) or how to decide where to place lights in a dollhouse, read the first article on "To Light or Not to Light".

When I started wiring dollhouses, I would have given my left arm for pictures of the hardware and descriptions of what I'd need! I felt like an idiot because I didn't even know what the plug on a dollhouse lamp looked like! The retailer websites and catalogs show pictures of lamps, but never the business end of one. The biggest mystery to me was how to connect tape wire to the transmformer! I knew there must be some kind of hardware involved, but I couldn't find anything that simply showed the whole connection process. When I found out about junction splices and transformer lead in wires I felt like I'd discovered the secret to the meaning of life and it wasn't 42!! LOL!

So when I did the wiring issue, I remembered all those newbie questions I'd had and tried to include the answers to all of them and take the mystery out of wiring a dollhouse. I know that there's a lot of information about wiring dollhouses in various locations on the web if you have the time to dig for it and know what to look for in the first place but when we did the wiring issue of the Gazette, we wanted to create a one-stop location with almost everything anyone could want to know about wiring, including the very basics and introductions to wiring concepts.

I hope that this helps a little bit! And if you're not already a subscriber to the Greenleaf Gazette, you can see the archives of past issues here and there's a link on that page to sign up for it too.


  1. Thnaks so much for posting this Deb, it will be really helpful. Tjis is the wiring type I use the hard wire. How do you make grooves in the flooring etc to make the wiring sit flush with the floor ? I am going to floorboard onto card and put that ontop of the floor so I can lift it out if anything goes wrong, but when I put the car ont top of the wires it dosnt sit without a bump and not sure how to get the wires into the flooring? Would like to run the wires down the side of the walls but not sure how to disguise this as we dont have channeling to cover it that I can find, Kate xx

  2. To make the grooves in the floor for the wiring to sit in, a dremel works best. One "wwwhhhhhhhhhirrrrrppp" and it's done. LOL If you don't have a dremel, a sharp xacto or craft knife will do the trick just as well (even the tip of a small bit of an electric screwdriver will do). It doesn't have to be pretty since it will be covered by the flooring.....just a trench deep enough for the wire to lay in and be flush with the floor. Be sure to cover the wire completely with electrical tape to hold it in place.

    I've used all kinds of trim to cover the wires running down the walls. It's usually best to run the wire down the corner of a room. Staircase railing is my favorite trim to use since it has the perfect groove already cut on the underside. I can fit four or five wires inside a piece of staircase railing and some types have a nice routed edge that makes it look like carved moulding. I use that or crown moulding and create an "architectural feature" by placing it vertically in the corners of the room with the wires behind it. That gives a cool "frame" to the room when you butt crown moulding and baseboards up against it; a look that was popular with victorians but works with almost any era. If you look at the interior picture of C'est Si Bon, , you can see the corner moulding that I used downstairs to frame the fireplace. Those pieces are actually the bottom of a stair railing kit. All the wires from upstairs and outside are inside them.

    You can also drill a small hole in the wall at the base of the floor and run the wire outside, then down the corner of the house and cover it with corner trim.

    With the Brimbles you don't have to do any of that. The opening of the Brimbles has 1 1/2" sides extending from the corners and you simply run the wires to that corner of the floor and down where they aren't seen at all unless you turn yourself upside down and stick your head inside the house. I'll be sure to post pictures of that when I do the wiring since that's exactly where I'm hiding the wires in this one.

  3. Deb you are a STAR thankyou so much, your help is much appreciated. I am so looking forward to seeing how you put the Brimble together. Mine will be a while yet as I have so many projects on the go, my fav being the Aster at the moment for a fairy/Snow White huse, which I may have a go wiring now too thanks to you!! Kate xx

  4. Hi I left you award at My blog


  5. Deb! You have a couple of awards over at my blog. Please come get them.