can be made to appear to be standing on their own
in complex positions including on one foot with the
use of brass tube and rod. This way the figure can
be safely on display without an unsightly doll stand.
There are two
grades of tools and supplies necessary to accomplish
the task. You may find you have the best choices
in your home workshop or that of a friend already.
Check out www.micromark.com;
better yet ask for a catalog, they are invaluable.
Drill Press (regular size,
small Dremel size will often be too small) Power
miter/cut off saw www.micromark.com #
15218 1/8“ and 3/32“ drill bits 1/8“ brass
60198 3/32“ brass rod www.micromark.com #60227
Sharpie marking pen Ruler 6“ transparent with
1/8“ grid is ideal Base of wood or other material.
Acceptable Tool Choices
held Drill Hand powered tubing cutter www.micromark.com #20132
Hack saw and bench vise to cut brass rod.
Bases should be 1/4th inch thick for small
dolls 10“ or less. Three by four inches is
a good base size for small dolls. Test smaller sizes
to be sure the doll is safe and not going to tip
over due to its weight.
A base thickness of to 2“ is
better and necessary for larger dolls. Anything
which can be drilled will work!
Planning for this type of base
starts with sculpting the parts for your doll and
it‘s helpful to
explore the pose you‘d like for your doll by
taking it yourself and observing how the joints in
your leg, ankle and foot change and applying this
to your sculpture.
Before you begin focus on the
idea that drilled holes should be PERPENDICILAR to
the flat surface of the base and the bottom of the
foot. Even if you want to try having your figure
stand on a sloped surface like a rock with the foot
at an angle it will still be easier if you drill
into the base and the foot perpendicular to a now
imaginary flat plane between the two. I usually put
tube and rod into only one foot and do this work
before painting and finishing avoiding having to
touch up later.
Brass Tube in the Doll Part
Once your doll parts are completed
you may install the tube in the leg of the doll
before or after it is painted but make sure that
the part of the foot which will make contact with
the base is sanded FLAT and at the proper
angle for the desired pose.
Create a drilling —jig“ for
the foot by drilling a perpendicular hole (with
a drill press if possible) through a small scrap
of wood 2 or 1/2 inch thick large enough for the
foot. Imagine a hole drilled into the heel and
being able to swing the foot all around the hole
while it still stays on the wood. Use the 1/8 inch
drill bit for this hole. The drilling jig is a
tool to help you get started drilling straight
as it can be very hard to tell when using a hand
held drill and you will be pushing the doll part/drilling
jig upwards onto the bit in the drill press.
Next mark the point on the
bottom of the dolls foot where you will drill for
the insertion of the brass tube. Press the foot into
position on a flat surface and use a transparent
ruler with the end on the surface so you can see
where the hole will go into the leg making sure
it goes through the foot/ ankle and into the leg
right in the center. Look at the doll
part from two directions side and back and when you
are sure mark the point to drill with the sharpie
Have a piece of masking, duct,
or sports tape cut and ready to tape the foot in
place once the hole in the drilling jig is positioned
over the marked spot.
Now use either the drill press
or the hand held drill with the 1/8th inch bit
to drill into the dolls foot and leg. The larger
the doll the deeper the hole needed for balance.
I drill about 3/4th inch deep for 10“ or
less dolls and up to 1 2 inches deep for larger
dolls. Use one hand to hold the foot to the drilling
jig firmly and push against the drill bit, the
other hand to control the tool.
Insert a full piece of the
brass tubing into the doll part until it‘s
all the way in. Mark the point where the tube exits
the foot with the sharpie marker and remove the
Use either the power miter
saw or the hand tubing cutter to cut the tube. Use
sand paper or a small file to de burr the cut brass
so the edges are smooth inside and out.
Slide the piece of tube into
the doll part; it should be flush with the bottom
of the foot. If not it‘s
easier to cut a new piece with an adjusted length
than try to remove a tiny bit from the length. If
you plan to add shoe soles you can calculate the
thickness and leave the tube long so it will be flush
with the shoe sole. The tube can be glued in later
once you are certain everything is just right.
The Rod in the Base
Insert a piece of the brass
rod into the tube in the dolls foot/leg and mark
with the sharpie marker where the rod exits the
tube. Remove the rod.
Now measure the thickness of
the base material you will use, and add another
mark to the rod for the thickness of the base.
This assumes you will drill all the way through
the base. If you are using a larger block of wood,
stone etc and do not want to go all the way through
then just add at least 2“ to
the length of the piece of rod you need to cut.
Cut the rod with either the
powered miter cut-off saw or with the tube clamped
in a bench vise and with a hack saw. Sand
to de bur the ends so they fit smoothly into the
Now mark the point on the base
where you want the doll to stand. You can press
the foot with tube installed against wood and the
tube will make a faint indentation which you can
see and mark with the sharpie. If this is not possible
just carefully choose the spot you want.
This is where the drill press
is a real plus because the hole you drill in the
base will be perfectly perpendicular. If you are
using a hand held drill you can use the drilling
jig again to help you get started perpendicular
to the base. Use a 3/32 drill bit to drill the
hole for the rod.
Drive the brass rod you precut
into the base until it is flush with the base bottom
or completely inserted into holes which don‘t
go all the way through the base. The brass
rod will drive into the base like a nail so start
Test the doll foot on the brass
tube in the base. The
part should meet the base flatly and not swing around
with a gap between the foot and the base. If
this happens you can try to sand off the end of the
rod with course sand paper or pull it out and cut
a new shorter piece.
If the hole you drilled was
slightly out of the alignment you needed and the
doll is standing crookedly you can tap the rod
lightly with a hammer to bend it in the direction
needed to straighten the doll into the correct
It‘s really best to practice
this on some scraps and parts you don‘t care
about to get a feel for it before tackling a doll
you have put lots of work into and want to finish!