Introduction: Build a TARDIS Nite Lite!
Everyone I know (well almost everyone) knows Who the Doctor is. And if they don't, it is their loss. Doctor Who is the longest running BBC SciFi program ever. It boasts of at least 50 years of continuous adventure with scads of aliens, stage sets, and of course several different TARDIS's. A TARDIS is the Doctors time traveling ship that looks like a British Police Public Call Box. This is not just a coincidence, It is the work of a special circuit in the TARDIS known as the Chameleon Circuit who's job it is to allow the TARDIS to blend in with the environment in which it lands. Trouble is, the chameleon circuit is "stuck" in presenting the time ship as this Police Call Box. The TARDIS is the icon of the entire series. To own one is considered the pinnacle of a Time Lord's career. To build one, shows your true mastery of time and space. Now is your chance to build AND own your very own TARDIS! So, if you are up for a challenge with really great results, then hold on to your console because this instructable will stretch your model building skills and quite possibly, your mind.
Step 1: Your Toolbox
Besides a sonic screwdriver, you will need some tools to get started, so here is a list:
Knives - X-ACTO Number 1 and Number 2 along with extra blades. (a full kit is better)
Rulers - (1) Six inch and (1) Twelve inch square and an adjustable Twelve inch Square.
Table Saw with plywood and crosscut blades. A friend's will do too. just agree to build a box for them.
Scroll Saw If you have one, great. It too is a time saver.
Drill with 5/8" and 1/2" Forstner bits.
"The Chopper" from North West Short Line for small piece wood cutting. (You can do this with a good scroll saw or x-acto knives but this device is a huge time saver).
Sanding block and boards of various grit sizes for fine tuning small parts.
Adhesives & Tape Loctite Professional Superglue, Elmer's Craft Bond Glue, Painter's tape, cellophane tape and package shipping tape.
A Dozen Binder clips to use as miniature clamps. (You can get free ones from clothes hangers with clips on the ends.)
Paint (Your choice of color. mine is Navy Blue).
Other tools and items may be useful. Improvise what you will need. It is half of the fun!
Step 2: Bill of Materials
You will need the following materials:
(2) pieces of 3/16 plywood cut 5-1/8 inches square. (Box Base)
(1) piece of 1x6 cut 4-1/2 inches square. (Lamp Base)
(1) package of 500 standard 5 inch long pop sticks. (Sticks are 3/8 in. wide).
(1) package of 50 large tongue depressors. (These are 1-1/4 in wide and about 9 inches long).
(2) packages of square wood dowels.
(1) package of Maple Veneer for the side panels and roof. *
(4) clear plastic CD cases (for windows and signage).
(1) Plastic "Garage Sale" sign (enough to create four 4-1/2 by 8-9/16 panels for sides)
(1) Yellow "CAUTION" sign for the cupola top. (May substitute (4) more CD Cases for the roof)
(1) Lamp Cord Set (From ACE Hardware here) May be substituted but you will need to re-engineer the lamp base.
(1) 7-watt 120 VAC Lamp or a similar LED model. (LED preferred. Less heat and lasts longer).
(1) Plastic kitchen cutting board for parts glue up. (The board is made of HDPE plastic and superglue won't stick to it or your Mom's favorite kitchen table.)
(8) Clear Plastic Buttons 5/8 in. diameter (for Beacon)
(1) Black Plastic Button 3/4 in. diameter (for Beacon)
(2) Large Paper Clips (Door Handles)
* This item is not necessary and may be left off if you are okay with the "plastic look". Veneer is available from Woodcraft here.
Note: All of these materials can be found at a Big Box (pardon the pun), Hardware, or Hobby store. Use your imagination and consider this part a scavenger hunt.
Step 3: Cut List
I approached this part by deciding how and with what tools I was going to cut this fine stuff with. Since I had a scroll saw, I chose to use the Square as a cutting fence to run straight cuts in the right dimension. Refer to the photo of my scroll saw to see how this was done. The only problem with this method is that any flaws in the edge of the wood are translated to the cut piece. That is, if your stock is warped, the cut piece will be warped. The better method is with a straightedge and an x-acto knife. Your first cut can be by this method and then you can use the scroll saw method for the remaining cuts of that wood, or you can do them all by this method. Your choice.
There are two ways to handle this part of the monster. Either cut all the wood at once or cut on an as needed basis. I did mine all at once and only went back for small pieces needed later. That way, I could dedicate time to accuracy and design. Besides, cutting all at once makes the project less tedious and saves time in the long run. So here is the Cut List.
Bases (cut using a Table Saw or Hand saw)
Main Base - (2) 5-1/8 in square by 3/16 in. thick plywood.
Lamp Base - (1) 6 in. piece of 1x6 cut to 4-1/2 in. square.
Panels (cut using a scroll saw or with a straight edge and an x-acto knife).
(4) 3/4 in. by 7 in.
(8) 1/2 in. by 8-9/16 in.
(4) 7/16 in. by 3-1/2 in.
(4) 3/8 in. by 3-1/2 in.
(24) 3/8 in. by 1-3/8 in.
(4) 1/4 in. by 3-1/2 in.
(4) 1/4 in. by 7-3/4 in.
(24) 1-3/8 in. by 1-15/32 in. Maple veneer panels
Framework (Cut using the scroll saw, hand saw, or straight edge and x-acto knife)
(4) 3/16 in. square by 7-5/8 in. long square dowels (inside corners)
(4) 3/16 in square by 4-5/16 in. long square dowels (across the top of each panel offset to the right or left)
(4) 1/16 in. by 8 in. long pieces.
(4) 1/2 in. wide pieces of stock to 4-3/16 in. long.
(4) 3/16 in. square dowels to 3-7/8 in. long
(4) 5/16 in. square dowels to 3-7/8 in. long
(4) 1/4 in. square dowels to 3-1/2 in. long
(4) 3/16 in. wide by 5/16 in. long
(4) 3/16 in. wide by 3/8 in. long
(4) 3/8 in. wide by 8-5/8 in. long*
(4) 7/16 in. wide by 8-5/8 in. long*
*These should be cut using the straight edge and x-acto knife rather than on the scroll saw. The edges have to be on point or there will be gaps in your wood post that you will need to spend extra time repairing. Take it from me. The quality is worth the extra effort.
Step 4: Build the Bases
1. Glue the two 5-1/8 inch square boards together, face to face. Clamp and let dry.
2. Set the table saw blade to 30 degrees bevel. Set the saw fence and lower your blade so that the blade will exit the center of the board(s) on the cut. Cut a bevel on all four edges of the base. See Photo.
3. Sand the edges of your base smooth using 150 grit sand paper or finer as needed.
4. Mask off the top of the base showing a 1/4 inch reveal along all four edges. See Photo.
5. Paint the base with your choice of paint using a primer + paint spray paint to save time.
6. Set it aside and allow the paint to dry completely.
1. Mark the center of your 4-1/2 inch square base by drawing a line from corner to corner through the center. Do the same with the opposite corners. Where the lines cross in the center is the center of your board. Drill a 5/8 inch hole using the 5/8 inch Forstner bit in the center. Photo
2. Using a table saw or other method, cut a 1/4 wide rabit channel across the lamp base bottom to provide access for the power cord. Draw a center line across the board at 2-1/4 inches. The kerf of your saw blade, the tips of the blade teeth, are probably 1/8 inch wide. Adjust your fence at either 2-1/8 inches or to 2-3/8 inches on the kerf edge. Lower your saw blade so that you cut a 1/8 deep rabit. Run your wood through the saw, turn it 180 degrees and run it through again. The result should be a 1/4 wide rabit across the board with the center being 2-1/4 inches. This is not critical but makes the power cord look centered when it exits out the back of your TARDIS.
3. Separate the switch from the power cord by cutting the wires at both ends of the switch leaving you with a power cord (the part that plugs into the wall) and a lamp cord (the cord attached to the lamp socket) and the switch. If using the suggested lamp cord set, remove the spring clamp from the lamp socket and discard.
4. Pass the lamp cord through the hole in the lamp base and glue the socket to the lamp base using superglue. Set it aside and let the glue dry. (See Photos).
5. Using a small Phillips screwdriver, open the switch by unscrewing the cover to separate the two switch halves. Take note of how the wires are laid in the switch channels. Remove the wires from the switch half and save them to use as a pattern for the new wiring.
6. Pull apart the two wires on both cords by 1-1/2 inches. Do this by cutting the middle of the wires using a sharp pair of scissors to get it started. Be careful not to cut into the copper wire itself.
7. Take note of the edge of the wires and identify the wires with the serrated edge on them. See Photos.
8. Strip 1/2 inch of insulation from the serrated wires and join them together using a Western Union splice. Photo.
9. Return the wires to their plastic shell and trim the wires that do not have a serrated edge so they will fit in the shell without touching each other or the other wires.
10. Replace the switch half of the switch and screw the two halves together.
11. Test your wiring job by installing a 7 watt lamp in the lamp socket, plugging the cord into a wall outlet, and rotating the switch to see if the light will light. If you followed instructions, the lamp will light and the switch will operate properly. If your lamp doesn't work, seek help from a qualified electrician.
12. When completed, center and glue the lamp base to the Main base insuring that the wires are placed in the channel under the lamp base. Clamp and set the assembly aside to let it dry. Photo
Continue to the next step
Step 5: Build the Side Panels
Of all the sections to this Ible, Panel building will take up the most time.
The easiest way to get consistency from panel to panel is to always build them from left to right (for you righties) and right to left (for you lefties).
"IF", and I mean If you have accurately cut all of your wood parts to their respective dimensions, following the steps below should present no problem. My experience, however, has taught me that there is no such thing as perfect, straight, exactly flat wood, and you will have gaps to deal with. Just remember that the end goal is to be consistent in the build. If your first panel turns out with gaps and a lot of rework, consider it a dry run and use it as your back panel or start over. Lastly, follow the carpenters rule: Measure Twice, Cut Once.
The Framing Jigs
You can put these panels together without them, but taking the time to make them will save you a ton of measuring and cutting time later. They are made out of 1/8 inch thick HDPE plastic cut from the bottoms of 5-Gallon HDPE pails but you can use plexiglass if you can't find the polyethylene. Just be careful not to glue the jigs to your work.
Cut four (only two shown) pieces of HDPE or Plexiglass to 1-3/8 in. by 1-15/32 in. Make sure your jigs are perfectly square. So now to the panels.
Build a Panel
1. Locate one of the plastic 4-1/2 by 8-9/16 sheets. This will be your backer for each of the four panels you make.
2. Glue (1) of the 1/2 x 8-9/16 in. sticks along the left side edge of the panel using Loctite Superglue. See Photo.
3. Glue (1) of the 1/4 x 3-1/2 in. sticks along the top edge using Superglue. Be sure to use glue along each end edge to insure a solid seam.
4. Glue (1) of the 3/8 x 3-1/2 in. sticks along the bottom edge using Superglue.
5. Glue (1) of the 1/2 x 8-9/16 in. sticks along the right side edge of the panel using Loctite Superglue. See Photo.
6. Lay the frame jigs along the left hand side vertical spaced 5 inches apart and use them to mark a seven inch long line on the right hand side of it to act as a guide for the 3/4 in. wide center panel. Lay the 7 in. stick along the line or along the edge of the frame jig and glue the 3/4 x 7 in. stick in place with Superglue.
7. Glue (1) 7/16 in. by 3-1/2 in. stick along the top of the center vertical.
8. Place the Frame Jig at the top of the channel formed by the left and center verticals to act as a template for placing the bottom frame member in the channel.
9. Glue (1) 3/8 in. by 1-3/8 in. piece under the frame jig. Remove the jig before the glue sets. Place the jig in the right hand channel and repeat this step.
10. Continue gluing bottom frame pieces in the two channels until all six are placed. When you are finished, your work should look like a panel.
11. Using an X-Acto knife, cut out the top most section plastic backer and discard.
Layout the Window Frame
You are now ready to make the window frames. All of the measuring can be done with the Stanley Adjustable Square. Measure, mark, cut and sand each piece as you go rather than making all of them only to find out you have a gap to fill. The Verticals will be 1/16 in. by 1-15/32 in. long. You can make them longer by a 32nd of an inch and trim them into place by sanding. Refer to the window frame photo drawing for details.
1. Mark the locations of the verticals on the front of the panel frame with pencil spacing them 13/32 from the left and right edges. Glue the (2) window verticals in place by lightly coating the backside of the stick with superglue.
2. Mark the location of the horizontal frame piece with a pencil, spacing it 11/16 in. up from the bottom of the frame or down from the top of the frame. Which ever way you choose, be consistent throughout the entire box for all the frames. If not, your work piece will not look symmetrical. With a straight edge, draw a line from either side through the center of the two verticals to accurately place the horizontal.
3. Measure and cut a 7/16 in. piece of 1/16 in. frame stock and glue it in the center between the two verticals. Sand as needed to get a fit.
4. Measure and cut (2) 7/16 in. pieces of 1/16 in. wide frame stock and glue on each side of the two verticals.
Repeat these four steps for each window. When finished, continue below.
Note: A good magnifier and light will help in placement of the parts. So will using the X-Acto knife. Stab the part with a sharp knife and place it where you want it. When the glue sets, just remove the knife and the part will be in place. Easy!
Now the surgery begins!
Using a new sharp X-Acto blade, cut out the plastic in each window frame and discard it.
Trim out excess plastic in each window pane by setting the edge of your knife and drawing the knife towards you. In this way you get finer control of the knife and a cleaner cut. Take your time to avoid nicking the wood. Sand each window pane and the perimeter of the Frame until smooth.
Note: Now is the time to do the details. You can use 1/16 in. stock to create a frame around the space above the window frames for the Police Call Box signage. This is also the time to cut and glue the veneer in the six panels on the face. Use superglue sparingly for this.
Set aside this panel and do three more. When you are done with all four panels, paint them and allow them to dry thoroughly.
Continue to the next step.
Step 6: Add Framework
In normal project builds, whether you are building a table top model or a new house, you always build the frame first then add the walls and siding. But not here. It is much easier to attach the framework to the panels than to build a framework and then add the wall panels. There are only two pieces of wood stock needed for each panel to create a strong structure. Gather the Framework parts and lets begin.
Select a painted panel and place it face down on the cutting board in front of you with the windows at the top.
Glue a 3/16 in. by 4-5/16 in. square dowel along the top left edge of the panel with superglue. Clamp it with three clamps to hold it in place. There should be 3/16 in. gap at the right hand end of this piece.
Glue a 3/16 in. by 7-5/8 in. square dowel against the top dowel along the left side edge of the panel with superglue and clamp it with five clamps to hold it in place. There should be a 3/4 in. gap between the end of the dowel and the bottom of the panel.
Wait a few seconds to allow the glue to set and remove all the clamps.
Repeat this procedure with the other three panels.
Continue to the next step.
Step 7: Attach Panels to Bases
Notice: Read and be sure you understand this procedure before you attempt it. Pay attention to all glue points and test fit each panel before gluing.
Choose a panel to be the back side of your box. Perhaps one that is not as handsome as you would like it to be.
Mark a 1/8 in. by 1/4 in. area on the bottom in the center for the power cord to exit. Cut out that piece.
Test fit the panel to the base and make note of the points that need to be glued to the base.
Place your completed Lamp Base on the cutting board.
On the back side of the back panel, mark a line across the width 3/4 in. up from the bottom.
Apply superglue to the bottom space and the bottom of the vertical strut on the panel.
Align the panel to the base starting at the bottom and stand the panel up to come into contact with the base.
Quickly check to insure your panel is square with the base.
Press and hold the panel to the base for 30 seconds so the glue will set.
Turn the base clockwise one quarter turn and add the next panel.
Note: for the remaining three panels, besides gluing the bottom of the framework strut to the base, also apply glue to the horizontal strut corner that comes in contact with the previous panel's horizontal at the top. Notice that the vertical strut of the second panel also becomes the second vertical strut of the first panel. Be sure to apply glue to the outside of the vertical strut where it comes in contact with the first panel.
When done, you will have completed the body of the box. Make sure no glue points have been missed and set the box aside so the glue can dry.
Continue to the next step
Step 8: Panel Signage
In this section, you will need to start MS Word or any word processor to print the signage in the download.
The "POLICE BOX" signage will be printed one sign per page and you will need to reload each sheet and reprint it a second time as described below. The "Pull To Open" door sign and the "St. John Ambulance" signs do not need double printing. Only the "POLICE BOX" sign is double printed to increase the black background.
You may elect to have the signage made professionally. Just give your printer the design download so he/she will be able to do vinyl transfers or other kinds of printing for you.
1. Disassemble the (4) CD cases and throw away the back. Only the top is used. Prep each panel by removing the spine, the sides and the leading edge using an x-acto knife and the 6 inch ruler. You must score each cut at least four times and carefully snap away the excess. See Photos.
2. Cut each "window panel" 2-1/2 by 4-1/16 inches. Do this the same way as you did for the prep.
3. Sand one or both sides of the panel with 150 grit sandpaper to create the frosted window effect. Photo.
4. Select one of the "Police Box" signs that you printed out and prepped and cut it with a straight edge and knife to fit along the long dimension of window glass. Test the positioning by fitting the window glass inside the box on one of the panels.
5. When you are satisfied with the display and the centering of the signage, glue the sign on the frosted side along the long edge of the window glass using Elmer's Craft Bond Glue. DO NOT USE SUPERGLUE it sets too quickly to get a good fit.
6. Using the handle of the X-Acto knife as a rolling pin, press out the air and excess glue from the sign until the sign is flat.
7. Turn the window glass over and trim off and excess signage. Repeat these steps until all four windows are done.
If you make a mistake - You get a Do Over. Just soak the window glass in warm water for a few minutes. The signage will slide off just like a wet decal and you can reprint the sign, cover it in clear tape, and try again. Cool, Huh?
Continue to the next step.
Step 9: The Cupola
Cupola Base Sub-assembly
1. Locate (4) 1/2 in. by 4-3/16 in. stock and glue together using the square, superglue, and the cutting board. When completed, it should look like photo 1.
2. Locate (4) pieces of 3/16 in. by 3-7/8 in. square dowels and glue together using the square, superglue, and cutting board. When completed, it should look like photo 2.
3. Center and superglue the second piece on top of the first piece. This completes the Cupola Base Assembly.
Cupola Midsection Sub-assembly
1. Locate (4) 5/16 in. by 3-7/8 in. square dowels and glue together using the square, superglue, and cutting board. This completes the Cupola Midsection Assembly. (Not Shown)
Cupola Cap Sub-assembly
1. Calculate the specs of the roof panels using the Pyramid calculator knowing only the angle of 12 degrees and a base of 3-3/4 inches.
2. Layout the measurements on the yellow plastic panel and cut them out using the 6-inch ruler and an x-acto knife.
3. Cut off the top of the pyramid panels to form a trapezoid with a top 3/4 inches long and a base of 3-3/4 inches long. Lay the panels end to end as shown and tape them together at the seams.(Photo 4)
4. Turn the panels over and fold them until all gaps are closed. Have a third hand tape the last seam for you.
5. Square up the pyramid with the square and glue sections together from the top using superglue.
6. When you are satisfied with the strength of your work, place the pyramid on top of the base and superglue it into place. Let dry thoroughly before continuing. Turn the pyramid upside down and glue the seams again using superglue. Let dry before continuing.
7. Cut two 3/4 inch square pieces of tongue depressor out of stock, and glue one of them in the center of the pyramid. Let dry before continuing.
8. Turn the pyramid right side up and glue the second piece of 3/4 in square stock on top of the first piece. This forms the base for the beacon lamp. Let dry before continuing.
9. Sand all surfaces of the pyramid and base with 150 grit then 220 grit sand paper. Fill any holes with wood filler. Let it dry and sand it again until smooth.
10. Mark the center of the beacon pad and drill through a 1/2 inch hole using the 1/2 inch Forstner bit.
Put the Cupola Cap aside until ready for final assembly.
1. Locate (4) pieces of 3/16 in. wide by 5/16 in. long cut stock.
2. Locate (4) pieces of 3/16 in. wide by 3/8 in. long cut stock.
Cupola Final Assembly
1. Center and glue the Cupola Cap Sub-assembly on top of the Cupola Midsection Sub-assembly using superglue. Set aside and let these mated parts dry before continuing.
2. Center and glue the Cap and Midsection Sub-assembly combo to the Cupola Base Sub-Assembly. Set aside and let these mated parts dry before continuing.
3. Inspect the completed Cupola and glue, fill, and sand the assembly.
4. Glue one of each of the Cornice pieces to the corners of the Midsection using super glue. Reference the photo for detail.
5. Paint the Cupola and allow it to dry thoroughly.
Continue to the next step.
Step 10: Posts
The Posts serve an important function in this build... they hide your mistakes. The Posts act like clapboard siding for the corners which hides the framework and edges of the panels and therefore, my mistakes in width and gaps.
To make the posts with perfect seams and edges requires exact cutting of the wood used and a simple tool made out of two pieces of angle aluminum. This is one of those one use tools that you make that you may never use again.
I happened to have pieces of angled aluminum with one side 1/2 in wide and the other 3/4 in. wide. The corner of the angle nests into another angle with the wood sandwiched between them. I used Elmer's Glue to join the wood together and binder clips to hold the sandwich together until the glue dried. (Photo)
1. Locate the 3/8 in. and 7/16 in. wide by 8-5/8 in. long pieces of stock needed for the post.
2. Sand and place the 7/16 in. piece in the corner of the angle bracket.
3. Glue the 3/8 in. piece to the first piece at right angles to it using Elmer's Glue. Apply glue sparingly.
4. Clamp your work with another piece of angle bracket and secure the whole sandwich with binder clips until the glue dries. About two hours. Make sure the two pieces of wood are in contact with each other.
5. Remove the clamps and carefully pry apart the two angle brackets from the work piece.
6. Strengthen the piece by applying superglue in the corner along the entire length. Use superglue sparingly. Let dry overnight.
6. Inspect, fill and sand your work piece and set aside.
7. Repeat these steps 3 more times to build your posts.
When done, paint the four pieces and let them dry thoroughly.
Continue to the next step.
Step 11: Buttons and Bows
Trim the "Pull To Open" sign to fit in the panel. Cut out the "St. John Ambulance" sign. Refer to the photo in this section for proper placement. Glue these pieces to the panels using superglue by applying dots of glue to the corners and center of the first sign, and four tiny dots around the perimeter of the second sign.
Locate the paperclips from stock. Cut them in two and select a straight piece 1-1/2 in. long.
Measure 1/2 in. from one end of the clip and bend it 90 degrees with a small pair of needle-nosed pliers. Do the same to the other end. You now have a door handle.
On the front door of your TARDIS, use the door handle as a gauge to determine where to drill the mounting holes. Mark those points with a pencil then drill two small holes through the wood with a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the clip wire.
Press the door handle through the holes in the wood and push the handle in so that about 1/4 in. is showing on the door.
Using a small pair of wire cutters, cut the wire inside flush to the panel. Dab a drop of superglue on the wires to keep them in place and let it dry.
Repeat these steps for the second door handle.
Build a Beacon jig. (See Photo)
Add a button to the jig, add two drops of glue (do not allow glue on the nails)
Add another button and two more glue drops. Continue until you have glued (7) buttons together.
Glue the large button on top of the smaller stack. Let glue dry. Remove Beacon from jig.
Glue the finished beacon to the top of the Cupola and allow it to dry thoroughly before playing with it.
Glue a post to each outside corner of your TARDIS. With each post, check to make sure your Cupola fits securely and is seated. The post should be level with the top of the cupola base if all your measurements were right.
Using the paint of your choice, spray some into a paper cup and along with a fine brush, use it to touch up your work.
Allow your work to dry and set it in a conspicuous place.
Congratulations Doctor! You did it! Take a bow.