A good friend of our sons was having a 13th Birthday and his parents wanted to do a Dr Who themed party. Somehow I got volunteered to make some Tardi (Plural of Tardis?) table center pieces. For those of you who don't know what a Tardis is, check here: Tardis. My wife and I did a little brainstorming (she was the source of our volunteerism...) and decided that for a table center piece an 18” to 24” tall Tardis would be perfect. Any smaller and it would get lost on the table and any larger to big. We had two other design goals as there were going to be 20 of them. First minimize cost, second minimize assembly time. But, it still had to be cool and, did I mention we told our friends it would light up? Here is what we came up with, the Table Top Tardis!
I did a little research and I found a small cardboard cutout that you can bend and press a couple flaps into slots and you have a pop up Tardis. This would be great if we only needed small ones. You can find that here: Cutout Tardis It could be redrawn and scaled but, if you are going to make 20 of these, it will get surprisingly expensive. If you want 1000 or more it is a good method. My wife found the perfect box at Uline. It is 6”X6”X18” tall. And, less than a dollar each. To light the inside I had some one watt LED's left over from my kitchen under cabinet lighting project. Those, a nine volt battery, a 75Ohm resistor and you have light. OK, now on to the design.
I drew the sides of the Tardis in inkscape so I could be print them in color on 11X17 paper. I found the St Johns Ambulance side logo here: Logo
I was able to fit two sides and extra “Police Public Call Box” banners on one sheet. Thus two sheets for each Tardis. I figured that if we cutout a rectangular hole for the window area, the light would show through the windows. I decided to cut out the “Police Public Call Box” and put that on a small piece of blue painted wood trim to add a “this isn't just a painted box” look. For the top we tried to come up with a top piece to match the Tardis from the show but couldn’t come up with anything simple. We went with a square of dark foam core from Hobby Lobby. This would make mounting the nine volt battery and LED with double sided tape a very easy process. To allow the battery and LED to fit we needed to make an opening in the top of the regular box. To simplify this I cut the top flaps down so that when they are folded over there is a gap. This worked out just right. I experimented on a couple of the boxes before we came up with our final method of assembly. We were stumped for a bit trying to find a simple way to make a base to mount the boxes on. If you tape the bottom like you would to package something, the box won't stand up straight. My wife came up with the idea of pushing the bottom flaps into the box and that worked great. Remember, we had to make 20 and anything that adds 5 minutes of labor will add over an hour and a half to the whole project.
Step 1: What You Will Need
25 Boxes from Uline
4-5 cans of Sail Blue color Rustoleum paint (Lowes or Home Depot). The color is close to Tardis blue and I found the color value on line to make a swatch from to use in inkscape. If you want to be true to the show, there is the BBC Authorized TARDIS Blue: Pantone 2295C
5 8' sections of 3/4”X1/4” screen molding
This gets cut into 5” pieces and each Tardis uses 4. Make extra! They make great refrigerator magnets.
40 11X17 prints of the attached pdf.
20 1W LED's mounted on a star
20 75Ohm 1/2W Resistors buy 100 they are cheap
20 nine volt battery clips
20 nine volt batteries (Alkaline!)
1 can spray glue
Wood glue or white school glue for paper
Hot Glue and glue gun
Utility knife (with new blade)
Small piece of cardboard (to make cutout template)
Scrap wood to use as cutting surface
Paper shear (or scissors) I borrowed one.
Small hand saw and miter box.
Fine Sand Paper
Step 2: Print and Cutout
Cut out all the paper pieces. Set them aside in a safe place.
I attached my PhotoShop file in case you want to edit or tweak it.
Step 3: Make the Police Public Call Box Signs
Using wood glue or standard white glue put a thin line down the back of the Police Public Call Box strip then apply to the painted 5” wood trim strip. You will need four per Tardis.
Step 4: Build the Boxes
Using a ruler and pencil, mark the top flaps with a line to shorten them to about an inch to inch and 1/4”. Then mark the window holes with the template. Cut the flaps shorter and then cutout the windows.
Now assemble the boxes by taping the flaps down, being careful to not tape over the hole in the middle which the battery and LED will fit through later
Push the bottom flaps into the interior to help hold the box shape.
Setup a painting area where you can paint each box and them move them to an area to dry. I ended up doing this in my garage and after 20 boxes, had a quite the blue tint to my garage floor!
Step 5: Make the Light
Cut the resistor leads so that each lead is about 3/8”. Form a loop with one end. Solder the Red lead of the battery clip to the loop end of the resistor. Solder the other end of the resistor to the “+” lead of the LED. Solder the black lead of the battery clip to the “-” lead of the LED. Very simple, no switch. Test with a 9 volt battery. Set these aside.
Step 6: Make the Top
Cut four small squares of the double sided tape and put a piece in each corner of the square. Don't take off the paper covering the other sticky side yet. Put a one in piece of double sided tape in the middle of the foam core square. Stick the a nine volt battery to it. Using another small piece of the double sided tape, stick the LED to the battery. Before use we will plug the battery in and stick the lid to the Tardis.
Step 7: Make Them
Using hot glue, run a small bead on the back of the “Police Public Call Box” signs and glue one to each side of the Tardis.
Right before you use them, connect the nine volt battery and remove the backing from the double sided tape and install the top. The battery will last about 6-7 hours.
Ours worked out great any everyone loved them. The same method could be used to make British Phone booths very easily by substituting red paint and redoing the top sign.