Introduction: "Doctor Who" Sonic Screwdriver (9th/10th Doctor)

About: Scavenger rat, scrap-crafter and unprofessional artist. See what I'm up to daily at

When a friend gave me the idea of going as the Tenth Doctor for Halloween, I was completely sold on it, despite the fact that I had only four days until the big party to pull it together. The costume itself likely doesn't warrant an Instructable as it was mostly thrift shop hunting as opposed to making (and it's rather difficult to find anything resembling the Doctor's getup that fits a female, but I got lucky.) I needed an accessory to tie it together however, in case the pinstripe suit with hightop trainers wasn't clear enough. And what's the Doctor without his handy dandy sonic screwdriver?

A friend of mine owns a toy replica of the Eleventh Doctor's sonic screwdriver, and I just planned to borrow and use that. I had forgotten however that the style had changed quite radically between the two versions, and to me it simply didn't look right with the costume. I couldn't find any stores in the area which carried the replicas and there wasn't enough time to order one - time to get crafty! Allons-y!

Step 1: Get Some Inspiration

I wanted to make my prop as close to the real thing as possible, so I needed some reference images. The Tardis Index File wiki was very helpful here. I also did a few Google image searches to look at replicas available for sale; gotta check out the competition after all.

Step 2: The Basic Shape

Now that we have a good idea in mind, it's time to find some objects of suitable size and shape that can be re-purposed. Visualize! Look at every object you have and really think about their shapes and what you can do to modify them. Let your resourcefulness and creativity shine through.

I willingly sacrificed a few perfectly good markers to the prop-making gods as they were a perfect starting point. The nearly-cylindrical body of a red permanent marker will be the body of the screwdriver, its angular cap as part of the tail end, and the highlighter's cap will form the head. A little glass "gem" (a staple of craft stores and cheap floral arrangements) I had laying around makes for a nice end to the head. I glued it on to get a look, which I then realized was a bad idea. I had to pry it off again so I could start...

Step 3: Sanding & Painting

A pink and red sonic screwdriver will obviously not be cutting it, so we need to prep and paint these pieces. Since plastic isn't porous, you'll need to sand things up rather well to make the paint stick. I actually forgot this at first, but remember my error when the dry paint was rubbing off easily on my hands. Wipe it down, sand it up, THEN paint.

Paint of choice was acrylic craft paint, as it's what I'm familiar with and had on hand. A base coat of white works as a primer and covers the colored plastic, then several coats of the (surprisingly transparent) metallic paint finish it off.

Patience is required here - if one coat isn't completely, utterly, unquestionably dry, don't apply another! You'll just end up wiping the first one off. It's such a simple thing but I always end up doing it anyway.

Unfortunately it's not easy to get a sleek, machined metal look with brush-on acrylic paints. If I make another one, I'd try spray paint.

Step 4: Bits & Pieces

Our "metal" cylinders are going to need a few friends before they make a proper screwdriver. Finding the right doodads to compliment and connect what you already have can be tricky. Try not to get too hung up on the specifics of the real prop - yes, you want to be as close as possible, but when you're salvagecrafting you can't let perfectionism get to you.

To make the tail, I used the cap from the permanent marker, cut in half and painted silver, as well as the small cap from a dual-pointed Sharpie marker and some little round metal thing I happened to find.

A 7mm socket from a cheap wrench set fits nicely onto the tip of the body marker, and forms a neck between the head and body segments, with a couple of eyelets glued back-to-back let me connect the socket to the head without having to fill the cap interior with glue and jamming it in there.

The "button" is a cheap ring, probably a party favor or vending machine prize.

For the light-colored "grip" section of the body I cut a piece of parchment-style paper to size, rolled it around a dowel to curl it, and applied it with rubber cement (a water-based glue tends to warp paper).

Break out the superglue and hot glue gun (depending on what you need to glue where) and bring it all together. Woo!

Step 5: Final Thoughts

Is it the right size?
I think so. It looks the same size in my girl-hands as the real prop does in the Doctor's, at least. It looks correctly proportioned, especially in contrast to the bulky 11th Doctor replica.

Is it accurate?
Heck no. I did the best I could, but there are some things I'd love to change given half a chance. The head lacks the distinctive "openings" seen in the prop, the body doesn't have the line down the side (I believe it's supposed to be a slide control of some sort), and the tail end is a bit too long. I think I could get a more convincing metal look with spraypaint as well. It lacks features the toy replicas have like sound, LED flashlight/UV light, and the ability to extend and retract. It also lacks the ability to sonic anything, but I suppose the replicas can't either.

Is it recognizable?
Yup, both as a sonic screwdriver generally and the 9th/10th Doctor's specifically.

Is it awesome?
Yes. Yes it is.

It took just a few hours from start to finish, and most of that was for planning and scrounging. It's a great accent to a Tenth Doctor costume (which was a big hit) and a fun thing to have around.

You're a couple hours and a few pieces of junk away from having your own!

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