Introduction: DIY TARDIS Ornament

About: Kiwi transplant living in the US.

This year's Christmas ornament gift is different for each Thing. We're all about Dr. Who these days, so Thing One wanted a TARDIS, and Thing Two wanted a Dalek, which is on here as a separate instructable. It's probably the last year I'll do different ones, but wanted to accommodate wishes and mix things up a little. The good news is that both Things are thrilled with their respective ornaments.

I do write a message, the year, and Thing name on each year's ornament. I do it at the end, after all pics are taken - so they will (and already do) each have a great collection of one-of-a-kind ornaments. Maybe they will carry on the tradition with their kids...

They were a lot of fun to make, and it's always nice to make something out of 100% recycled stuff - I didn't buy anything for these ornaments, all materials were scavenged/re-purposed from around the house or leftovers from Modfrugal's various projects.

This was also the first year that the ornaments glow...the LEDs added a nice touch.

So - read on for a how-to on the Time And Relative Dimension In Space...


Thin ply-wood for the walls, floor and roof - I used an old fruit box
Craft Paint and Sharpie pens
Wood glue or White glue
Epoxy glue (you could use a glue's just that I'm an epoxy man)
Label paper for the sign stickers
A small hinge
plastic pen
LED tealight plus a small LED white light
Assorted tools (pliars, wire cutter, screwdriver, box cutter etc.)
small eye hook (to make this thing an ornament)

Step 1: Cut the Walls, Floor & Roof

We had a few old grocery boxes, and I thought the thin plywood was perfect construction material. Think this housed tangerines or somesuch.

1. Remove the heavy duty staples holding the box together.

2. You should have plenty of undamaged materials for the walls, floor and roof of the TARDIS.

Step 2: Cut Paint Print Assemble

1.  Draw a Template of the sides, floor, and roof. One of the side templates will be wider than the other, as two sides will be .25" wider to account for the thickness of the material at the corners. Google TARDIS and there are plenty of images to inspire your design. 

          There are 4x2 square door panels on the TARDIS, with the top ones each being a window with 3x2 panes
          I went with the existing dimensions from the fruit box, so the height was 3.5".
          It worked out nicely that the door panels were 0.5" square
          Panel frames were 1/8" wide, and 1/4" to the edge.
          Which left just the right amount of room at the bottom and top, including the space for the 'POLICE BOX' sign.

2. Cut out all the door panels on the main template using a sharp knife. We will use this to draw the panels with a Sharpie onto the doors after they have been painted.

3. Using the templates, mark the wood and cut out the shapes using cutting medium of your choice. I used a mitre chop saw. Exercise extreme caution and play safely.

4. Position the template on the wood and draw the top two panels on each side which will be the windows. Then cut out the panels - I used a 1/2" wood chisel which worked perfectly.

5. Cut out the window material: I used some strips of a translucent vellum paper that we had left over from something. You could use plastic packaging that's been lightly sanded, or probably white plain paper would be just fine.

6. The roof has two pieces that will be glued together before you paint all the pieces. I then mixed up an approximation of 'TARDIS Blue' using bright blue, black, and grey. Paint all pieces.

7. Glue the windows on the inside back of each side, and then draw the panes - I used a thin black Sharpie. There are 6 panes on the TARDIS, so one horizontal line and a couple of verticals. I drew lines on both sides of the paper.

8. Now draw the rest of the door panels using sharpies. I used a light blue for the bottom/left sides of the square, and black for the top/right sides. You can't see it too well in the pics, but  it makes it look like the panels are recessed. I copied this effect from mradau's rocking TARDIS bedroom door. Thanks for the inspiration.

Step 3: Signage

The signage was done in Word and printed out onto label paper. Completely unnecessary, but I wanted to see if I could print the actual door sign onto a 0.4 square to fit onto the 0.5" door panel. Turns out this can indeed be done, and young naked eyes can actually read it.

Front Door Sign (text box size 0.4" square):

POLICE TELEPHONE (Times New Roman 2)
FREE (Times New Roman 3)
FOR USE OF (Times New Roman 2)
PUBLIC (Times New Roman 3)
PULL TO OPEN (Verdana 3)

Police Box Signs (table: 1 row 3 columns, table width 1.75"):

 POLICE (Verdana 13) PUBLIC CALL (Verdana 6) BOX (Verdana 13)
White type, black fill.

Make one and then copy it a bunch of times. Then cut out the labels and stick 'em to the TARDIS wall panels. I found that the tip of an exacto knife helps with picking the inital separation from the backing, these things are too small and fiddley for my fingers.

The black background comes off pretty easily when touched, so handle with care while applying to the TARDIS walls - it will fade with repeat handling until you can seal it with varnish.

Step 4: The Roof and Glue the TARDIS Together

The TARDIS has a white/blue light at the top which lights when it travels through time I this is where the LED shall be. I decided to glue a modified tealight to the inside of the roof, and have the LED poke into the inside of a plastic pen top that you can then see emitting from the roof.

I figured the easiest way to access the tealight switch was to have the roof be a hinged lid. Thing one wanted the box to have an additional yellow tealight inside, to give a yellow glow through the windows, otherwise I would have considered having the LED in the bottom with longer wires connecting to the LED up top. This would have cluttered the inside with wires though. Plus, I had some small decorative hinges, and one of them was the perfect size.

1. Attach one side of the hinge to a wall panel. I did use the little nails and clipped off the excess on the inside, but didn't need to, as the epoxy glue was rock solid on its own.

2. Hold up the roof in place, mark and cut out a notch to accommodate the hinge rib. Don't attach the hinge to the roof yet.

3.Find an old plastic pen, and cut off the end tip. Pen needs to be clear or translucent so the LED will shine on through.

4. Draw an X across the roof top to find the center, and drill a hole the same diameter as the pen top. Glue the pen top into the hole with epoxy.

5. Screw a tiny eye screw into the top of the pen top - this is where the ornament will hang. 

6. Now glue the walls together with wood glue. I used rubber bands to hold it together while it dried. Careful though...lack of precision can crumble that setup in an instant. Also glue on the base - this will give some much needed stability.

7. When the TARDIS body is dry and solid, line up and glue on the roof with epoxy. Glue it with the lid open to allow a full range of movement.

8. Now is probably a good time to seal/varnish/poly the whole exterior.

Step 5: The Rooftop LED

This was a fun part. As with the Dalek ornament, I decided to hack/ recycle some inexpensive lights we already had. The tealight body would be great, as it has a nice push-button switch on the bottom and could be glued to the inside of the hinged roof. The tealight LED was flickering yellow, so I needed to swap it for a white one. We had white ones in another cheap LED thingy from Halloween. Both had the same voltage batteries, so I figured it would work.

1. Cut out the top of the tealight, carefully.

2. Heat up the ol' solder iron and remove the yellow bulb. Just the LED - leave the wires on.

3.Open up the other small white LED and remove the bulb. Luckily this one was not soldered. Score.

4. Solder the ends of the white LED bulb to the two wires on the tealight. They only work one way around, so make sure it lights before soldering! In mine, the short leg connected to the wire going through the switch.

5. Push the LED through and into the pen top in the roof, then glue the tealight base to the roof with epoxy. Check your clearance first - I had to remove some height, cutting off about 1/4" all around the base. Otherwise the tealight will catch on the front wall of the TARDIS when you try to close it.

6. Glue a magnet to an inside corner with epoxy, and a thin washer to the roof - this will keep the lid closed when it needs to be. My washer wasn't positioned well, and the roof doesn't close completely....maybe a fix down the road. Even though it bugs my perfectionist self - this is just an ornament.

Step 6: The TARDIS

And voila - you have a rocking, one-of-a-kind, made from recycled materials, TARDIS ornament. Thas right, Time And Dimension In Space...the LED proves it.

For added shine, Thing one dropped a yellow tealight into the TARDIS, which makes the windows glow.

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