The House of Miniatures kits were popular with kit-bashers from the time X-Acto introduced them. Almost at the same time THoM kits appeared, a wonderful magazine named The Scale Cabinetmaker (TSC) debuted. In its second issue, January 1977, X-Acto began advertising The House of Miniatures inside the back cover. By the third issue of the magazine, THoM kits began appearing in articles.
Vol 1:3 – Dry Sink Kitbash
In the first TSC article covering a THoM kit, 40019 they transform a Chippendale Dry Sink into a country kitchen dry sink. The changes make it a more modern piece with a backsplash and a dishpan. They put aside the brass hardware and make mushroom knobs and swap out the door with a more rustic raised panel they make. It isn’t so much a fresh piece of furniture as a change in period.
Vol 2:1 – Livingroom Kitbash
In this article, The Scale Cabinetmaker takes on five kits: 40004, 40015, 40016, 40027, and 40039. They cover modifications to the back and legs of the armchair, carving ball & claw feet on the armchair and tea table, and changing the upholstery process on the couch and wing chair. The premise of the article is two-fold; improving the build process and correcting some of the scale compromises with the kits.
Vol 2:2 – Tweaking a Lowboy
In this article, TSC reduces the dimensions of The House of Miniatures Lowboy (40024) to make it resemble actual examples. They point out that lowboys from matching bedroom suites are always smaller in dimensions than the lower part of a highboy.
The project is extensive, but still easier than building from scratch. They cut down the frame, replace the drawer fronts, carve the legs, make a new, thinner top, and make working bale hardware. It’s a lot of work, but the result is very satisfying. Even if you ignore the part about reducing the frame size, the other alterations make it a much more authentic looking piece.
Vol 4:3 – A French Desk
In this fun project, The Scale Cabinetmaker shows us how to turn a Queen Anne Table (40038) into a French-style desk. It involves replacing the top, carving the legs, adding skirting, and being creative with applique.
I think this is the only time I have not cringed when someone suggested painting a THoM kit. Although the article photos are not in color, and the cover photo looks black, the author says he went with a Hunter green paint and a glossy finish. There are also a few gems, like the drawer stop, that make the article worth a read, even if you don’t build the desk.
Vol 5:4 – Chest with Mirror
This article gives us a beautiful, if complicated product. Three kits become donors, and the result is a serpentine chest (40050) that has two extra drawers and a mirror on top of it. The finished piece looks excellent, but I’m not sure it is the equal of the three separate pieces of furniture, but I digress.
This is actually the first of three articles where The Scale Cabinetmaker artisans are creating a complete bedroom suite with a bed, dresser, screen, and a chair. I can’t recommend the subsequent articles, since they wind up cannibalizing four Chippendale Looking Glasses (42403), which is too much carnage for my taste, but if you want to check it out, the completed bedroom winds up on the cover of Vol 6:2.
TSC only slightly modifies the Serpentine Chest, but the Chippendale Hanging Chest (40032) they reduce to a pair of drawers that they screw to the top of the chest. They securely pin the uprights for the mirror support, which is a technique you can use in any build that has legs or other non-joined framing that often breaks in kit furniture.
Investing in a Library of The Scale Cabinetmaker
Each article I mention above calls out THoM kits by number, but the magazine is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in creating miniature masterpieces. Tool use and reviews, scratch-building furniture, upgrading and adding detail to kits and other miniatures, and so many other valuable tips fill each issue. With four issues per year for over two decades, there are hundreds of articles that you can treasure. TSC also published plans in bundles. Most of their material is available to download on The Scale Cabinetmaker website, but you can often find the old magazines for sale at miniatures shows and online.
In an earlier article series, I review the top ten publications that I’ve found helpful in learning more about miniatures making.