I am a beginner in woodworking and I'd like to create doll furniture (1:6 scale). I would prefer however not to use any sawing equipment because of the small size, and I do not have the option to use any kind of laser cutter.

What wood type (and how thick) could I use for this?

I wouldn't mind having to glue multiple layers together.

2 Answers 2


You can usually buy various sizes of balsa and basswood from the craft store (Hobby Lobby, Michaels, etc.). Balsa will be softer and easier to cut, while basswood will be a little harder, and also stronger.

We used to make models in architecture school using these. You can cut them with x-acto knives, which you can get from the craft store, as well. They usually come in small or large sizes, with replaceable blades. For thicker basswood,you may want a little model-making saw, which you can get there as well.

You can usually find a kit with multiple types of handles and tips.

Xacto X5282 Basic Knife Set


One of the common woods used for carving and for dollhouse and other scale-model applications is called basswood, which is commonly available from hobby and model shops.

You can use many other woods if they are close-grained enough, including proper furniture woods like maple, but they are much harder and more difficult to cut and the may be difficult to acquire in small pieces or useful profiles/sections.

Any wood can actually be shaped by knife, this is what whittling is all about*, but, you won't easily cut wood down to size and shape it fully using a knife alone.

Saws are vitally important for some aspects of woodworking, regardless of the scale of the work, and while you can split wood along the grain fairly easily cross-cutting is one thing where there is nearly no other option but to use a saw. Using just a knife you can't cut wood across the grain in a reasonable amount of time, especially where accuracy and neatness in the finished item are important.

So you do want a saw (or saws) for at least some of the work. In the case of dollhouse furniture you won't generally use full-sized hand saws, instead for model work there is a lot of use made of smaller saws and very fine saws such as razor saws.

I'd also say that files of various types should be high on your to-get list, above sandpaper and other sanding equipment in fact (although you will need some of that too). I'd get at least one set of needle files, which should have a fairly standard selection including a triangular file, a couple of flats of various shapes, possibly a square, a half-round and a round or rat-tail file, all of which will prove very useful for some of the shaping you'll need to do.

See some previous Q&As for more info that might be of help:
Comparison of Western saws and Japanese Saws
How do I sharpen curved tools like gouges?
How can I tell if wood turning (lathe) chisels are sharp?

*Note that whatever type of knife you use it should be kept as sharp as possible, sharp enough to shave arm hair is the minimum standard to aim for.

  • 2
    Graphus' wrote "but, you won't easily cut wood down to size and shape it fully using a knife alone." The reason for this may not be obvious. It is not due to the hardness of the wood species, rather it is due to the wedging forces that increase as a knife is driven in to make a cut. Regardless of the sharpness of the blade, the knife will only penetrate so far into a cut before it stops - upon which further force will split/tear the wood rather than sever it cleanly. A saw makes micro-sized cuts and progressively clears the waste away from the kerf, which is why it can cut continuously.
    – aaron
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 19:43
  • I know I'm not supposed to say thanks but I'd like to thank you anyway for your very detailed answer and the links to more interesting information. I have purchased a few fine saws and an xacto knife and am excited to get started.
    – Summer
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 10:15

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