Introduction: Cat Tardis

I decided one day at work that a young Whovian coworker of mine needed to have her own TARDIS.

I had already built an almost full scale version for myself (sorry, no Instructable there), so I was already familiar with the design process, so I went to work. I am sorry that there are not a lot of pictures, but my workspace is rather small, and the rest of the house not very photogenic. I will be including a lot of diagrams, and will try to answer any questions you might have.

The Cat TARDIS I designed was a combination of the big one I had built, and others that I had seen in images all over the Net (I will post credits as I find out who built what). I wanted to have the 4 entry points on each side, but I also decided that I wanted to make my version be a little more flexible, allowing the owner to choose which openings to leave open and which to close (more on that later).


  • 4 foot tall, 2 foot wide & deep
  • 3 sides and an open back
  • 4 re-closable openings on each side
  • 3 inside levels and a roof, all carpeted
  • Working Top Light
  • Internal storage for unused opening covers

I didn't document this as I went along. I am reconstructing a lot of this from memory and my original notes...

I won't be telling you how to drill / saw / screw this stuff together. That is basic stuff that you either know how to do, or can find out from other Instructables... And if you have better skills / tools, I don't really need to know, as I am not planning to build another of these anytime soon... ;)

A Note on Painting:
I painted as I went along. My windows (see below) had to be painted in the hardboard ahead of gluing the inner skin to the outer because I would be losing access due to my design decisions. Unfortunately some of my painting ahead ended up making some of the final project paint suffer. Always think ahead to what will be easier and / or come out better when you decide to pre-paint sections.

A Note About the Windows:

The way I made my windows was like a sandwich - white painted hardboard with painted and cut out strips of paper for the "frames", and plastic on the front. This was the simplest for me to do, and I think looked alright. This of course involved making these "sandwiches" while pasting the inner hardboard layer to the outside plywood layer. If you decide to make your windows a different way so be it.

Step 1: What You Will Need

In creating the cut sheet, I discovered just how much "fly by the seat of my pants" I did in this build.

I tried to optimize the plywood cuts to use some of the extra as the shelves / levels for this Instructable, but that didn't work...

1 - 4' x 8' Sheet 3/8" G1S plywood - Outer "skin"

1 - 4' x 8' x 1/8" Sheet "Hardboard" - Inner "skin"

3 - 4' x 4' x 1/4" Sheets "Hardboard" (also called Project Board) - Roof & levels

1 - 8' 2x4 (spruce, or whatever is handy) - Base

1 - 8' 2x2 (spruce, or whatever is handy) - Corner Uprights

2 - 8' 1x2 (spruce, or whatever is handy) - strips to hold Shelves up

24 - "Storm Buttons" - rotating clips used to hold storm windows in place

12 sq ft (or more) carpet

Sheet plastic for "POLICE BOX" & "Pull to Open" signs

2 tubes Construction Adhesive (for the carpet)

Paint, Wood Glue, Nails, screws

Step 2: Building the Main Box

As you can see from the cut sheet, I chose the 4' x 2' x 2' dimensions for a reason - they all fit nicely within a regular sheet of plywood.

Glue and screw the base together. I ended up cutting off the back half of the rear 2x4 so that my co-worker would be able to put the back against the wall, if she wished. You can either remove it or keep it. Be sure you put it together on a very square and flat surface, or the the whole thing will wobble. I countersunk the screws by a good inch, but I don't think I ever got around to filling the holes in...

Cut out the pieces in the plywood and 1/8" hardboard. The openings in the plywood, as you may have guessed, are to create the "panel" effect on the outside. You may want to round-over the outside corners of the holes in the plywood, if you have a router. Not having one, I simply sanded the edges.

You may wonder why the holes in the hardboard are bigger than the ones in the plywood. These are the openings that the cat(s) would use to enter and exit the TARDIS. The pieces that you remove will serve as covers for the openings later, and will rest against the back side of the plywood, and be held in place by "storm buttons" (small rotating clips that are used to hold storm windows in place).

Using the 2x2 pieces as uprights to hold the corners, glue the sides of the plywood together. I then flipped the whole thing on its head and, lining everything up to be symmetrical, put really big screws through the bottom of the 2x4 base into the ends of the 2x2 uprights (don't forget to pre-drill!!), and glued everything in place. I then installed 1x2's all around the top, 4 inches from the top edge and on the top of the corner 2x2's, both to help hold the top floor in place and to add strength to the entire structure.

I also attached a long piece of 1x2 up the back, both to help support the top shelf and all the other shelves / levels as well.

I cut the 1/8 hardboard sheets to fit between the uprights. I lined up the holes to be sure there was equal plywood visible around each hardboard hole. I even test-fitted a few hole covers back in the holes - from the outside of the box you couldn't tell which holes were potential doors and which were never cut... I then glued each sheet of hardboard to the inside surfaces of their respective plywood board, letting them dry overnight. The windows and "Push to Open" sign I glued in place before gluing the hardboard (Be careful when gluing the windows - one of mine dripped down the front plastic, on the BACK side, necessitating me taking the hardboard off and putting it back on - thank god the glue wasn't dry yet!)

Step 3: Building the POLICE BOX Signs

The lettering I had printed at the local print shop on 21 x 4 inch photo paper (actually all three, one for each side, fit on one printing). I then built the boxes out of leftover 1/4" hardboard.

I wanted to light up the boxes, but unfortunately tests with the printer paper showed white LED light shone through the black areas almost as easily as the white areas, so I decided against box lights.

I needed something to hold the plastic front cover in place, and I couldn't find thin, straight, TINY doweling to do the job... I cheated - I cut the tapered tips of BBQ skewers (like 100 to a pack for 2-3 bucks) and glued them in place. I then painted everything so that I wouldn't risk getting paint on the plastic.

On the inside I cut more 1/8th hardboard to hold the photo paper to the plastic to the front of the box, and locked it in place with more BBQ skewers.... Worked great!

Step 4: Building the Shelves

I built the shelves out of 1/4 inch hardboard. The first 2 levels (from the bottom) were just half of the whole "floor", where the 3rd level and top covered almost the entire level (see diagram).

I made sure to have 1x2 wood glued and screwed to the inside under every edge of the shelves, for support. (As you can see from the photo, I had to cut out a little meat out of some of the supports to clear the openings.)

You will also want to have painted the interior by now as well so that you won't get paint on the carpeting.

Before actually gluing the shelves in place, I laid them out on the back side of the carpet I was planning to put on them, and traced out each shelf, including a little overlap so I could fold the carpet around the edges.

I glued the shelves in place, then glued on the carpet, using the construction adhesive. Be sure to read the instructions that come with the adhesive. I first did the flats, then the folded over parts. Turned out much better than I thought it would. Don't forget to clamp the folds in place while they set (about 30 minutes).

Step 5: The Opening Covers

If you are making your TARDIS with the same number of entry holes and in the same positions as I have, you will need 9 covers that are blue on one side and whatever you painted your inside (white for me), on their flip side. I also put little vinyl "bumps" in the corners of each cover to keep it, when stacked, from touching the next cover (I was having "blocking" issues with the latex paint, and it was staying tacky).

The 3 "top" covers will have to replicate what you have done for your windows.

I installed a much smaller shelf between the top inside floor (3rd level) and the "roof level", just low enough to hold the extra covers, out of the way.

Each cover is held in place by 2 Storm Buttons, each being turned to hold the cover, or turned out of the way when not holding a cover.

Step 6: Finishing the Outside

Take the 6 long strips labelled "POST" in the cut diagram. The 4 narrow ones are for the sides, the 2 wide ones for the front. These will be for the corner "posts" of the Tardis.

Line the 4 side ones so that they are flush with the front and back edge of the box, and attach. The two front pieces get attached flush with the outside edge of the 2 adjacent narrow pieces (see overhead drawing). This will make the "posts" look square, 2 1/2" per side.

I attached my 3 "POLICE BOX" signs to the main unit with small blocks of 1x2 glued in place.

I also took 2 long pieces of 1/8 hardboard and glued them down the middle of each side, as separators for the "doors".

This would probably be a good point to paint all the exposed parts. As stated earlier I didn't do this, I kind of painted as I went along, but that resulted in a less-than-satisfactory paint job.

I made a scale door handle out of Sculpy, cleaned it up a bit with my Rotary tool (squared up some of the sides to make it look more "manufactured", thinned out the clay a bit), painted it flat silver and mounted it on the front "door" with 2 small screws.

Step 7: Building the Top Light

There are many ways to build the top light, and that will entirely depend on what you can find, what you have lying around the house, and your construction skills. I will simply describe how I made mine and leave you to figure out what you can use to make yours.

First I took a dollar store sport bottle, cut off the top and bottom leaving a "sleeve" about 5 inches tall and 4 inches across of reasonably thick and strong clear plastic. I then roughed up the inside with sandpaper, so as to diffuse the light coming from the inside.

The upright supports were painted dowel, the "bands" painted cardstock paper. The best way I've found to paint paper is to print lines on the back surface, paint the front, let it dry and cut the strips out using the lines on the back as guides. Straighter than trying to paint the lines on the "lens".

The top and bottom disks were 1/4 inch hardboard / project board left over from the shelves / levels, cut out the edges sanded round. The ball on the top is Sculpy, a clay that hardens in a regular oven (wonderful stuff - I made the door handle on the front out of it as well)... The top of the lamp is layered hardboard, concentric circles and again the edges sanded off.

The bottom part holds the electronics, and also holds the light an inch or so away from the top floor carpet. It has 4 AA cell clips for power, and a clever little hack for the lights.

Not knowing much about electronics, I took the guts out of one of those new fangled "dripping icicle" lights from Christmas. I rearranged the LEDs to be all clumped together rather than in a line, and powered it with the 4 AAs through a switch. Works fabulously, if not all that authentically to the TARDIS light (I've promised my co-worker a better light once I learn some electronics)...

The whole thing is held on by a 1/4 inch eye-bolt from under the top deck, screwed into a Ready Rod coupler (like a long nut) inside the light.... Holds everything in place steady as a rock....

Step 8: Moving In...

It wasn't until I actually carpeted the shelves that my cat decided to move in. Fortunately I had something to cover the access points so that she didn't get too comfortable with it that I would need to build a new one for her as well.

I will be posting more pictures as I get them, including the Top Light.

I will also be making edits to this Instructable as I remember stuff I forgot... Be sure to ask questions if you think I forgot anything!

Thank you for reading my first Instructable....