Tardis Lampshade




About: The answer is lasers, now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Find me on Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX

Intro: Tardis Lampshade

I think I made a rod for my my own back.

After making a wooden lampshade* for one son, the other decided that his shade was a bit past it as well. But he wanted something "a bit less bare".

Since we’re both fans of Doctor Who, and we both want our own Tardis, this is what he got...

* https://www.instructables.com/id/Laser-Cut-Lampsh...

Step 1: Design

As you can see, I went for a Tardis-themed lamp (I had no idea which Doctor Who to do).

There are lots, and lots, and lots of resources out there - I used a number of stencil designs as design cues, and simplified them to go for the instantly-recognisable silhouette.

The stencil designs were, obviously, two dimensional, but I decided to add layers to improve the silhouette.

Once I got the proportions from the online sources, I sized the design according to my needs (3cm hole at the top for the pendant fitting, enough space inside to fit my hand etc), then turned to MakerCase to generate a finger-jointed box of the right size.

Using Inkscape, I removed the bottom, added the door details, and drew up additional details like the lintel and the roof shape.

Here’s a cool thing: if you haven’t got your own laser cutter, you can use one of the first two files on this step to try laser cutting at Ponoko, - you won’t get to watch focussed radiation evaporate wood, but you'll have the desired effect.

Step 2: Needful Things

Aside from the obvious laser cutter and 3mm plywood, you need a few extra things:

  • Glue (I used PVA woodglue)
  • Clamps. You can't have too many clamps.
  • Blue paint.
  • Translucent paper.

If you’re going to get your parts online, you’ll need to need to use either a “24x12” sheet of 3.2mm plywood (which will cost you just over $33, +P&P), or a “P2” sheet of 3mm hardboard (just over $57, +P&P) – make sure you pick the right file to upload!

Step 3: Cutting

Because of the size of the parts, it takes two runs to cut all the parts on my laser cutter.

The files I added to step one are all drawn as if you are going to cut in one go - you'll need to edit the files if your cutting bed is as small as mine.

(If you got your parts cut by Ponoko, then this step should really be called “Waiting for the postman”?)

Step 4: Main Construction

Before you start gluing, make sure you've got the parts in the right order.

Add a thin line of glue to the finger joints, and build the main box - you will need to clamp it gently while it dries.

Step 5: Lintels

There are two kinds of "lintel" in the design - one with a hole in (to suit the "POLICE" banner on the original box), and one that is just a strip of wood for the bottom of the Tardis.

When you glue the top lintel in place, the hole lines up with the hole already cut in the main body of the lampshade.

For both top and bottom, there is a 3mm overlap on the left-hand side - when all four are in place at top and bottom, the overlaps all match up.

Step 6: Roof Outline

There are four roof outlines to complete the silhouette of the Tardis.

There are no slots or other parts to hold them in place - you just have to balance them in place by eye.

Do not be deterred by the roofs' tendency to fall over at this point - once you add glue along the bottom (and one end), they will be much easier to balance.

You should now leave the whole shade to dry properly before going on to the next step...

Step 7: Paint

As much as I like plain wood, the Tardis is wooden, but it's not plain. It's blue.

I used a blue spray paint from my stash - it may not be the canon-perfect shade, but it's close enough if you grew up with the early versions in black and white. If you spray, use even, top-to-bottom passes, starting above the shade and ending below it. I used three thin coats, letting it dry properly between coats.

You could use acrylic paints and a varnish, or even enamel paints. It's your lamp shade, you choose.

Whatever you do, though, it's a good idea to stuff the lampshade with scrap paper before you paint, so that you don't darken the inside of the shade.

Step 8: Windows

You could stop at step 7, and hang the shade, but you'd get glare in odd points around the room.

You diffuse the light by adding translucent panels - you could use tracing paper, baking parchment or coloured sweet wrappers, but I used freezer paper.

Cut four pieces, each slightly smaller than a side of the lampshade.

Reaching carefully into the lampshade, add a small smear of glue around the edge of one side of the shade, then slip the paper into place and smooth it down.

Leave the glue to dry, and you are ready to go.

Step 9: Hang It!

Do exactly what it says in the title!

If you make your own version of the shade, I'd love to see a picture in the comments...



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    25 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Thank you again fot your reply. Initially I tried 'craft wood' a compressed woodchip material of the right thickness, with little success, even with the coping saw, because of the number of cuts involved. But now that you've suggested Balsa wood, I'm sure I'll be able to do it with my trusty Stanley knife and metal ruler and square; and the product will be neater and sharper than what I have achieved with drill and saw. Mainly because of my mistakes placing the hole needed for the saw blade too close to the line of the cut out. But I iwould still be interested to know more about the laser cutter you used. What it is manufactured to deal with, like thickness and density of wood it's designed for, plus what other materials it can handle, as well as workshop space required and price. Although I've only got a decade or so pottering time left I have instilled in the grandchildren the pride and joy obtained from completing a DYI project well and if within my means and power, and if it has enough potential, I would like to include one in the workshop they will use while i live and inherit on my passing. As well as innumerables hand and smaller power tools, I have already purchased a pivoting headed wood lathe for bowl work as well as turning. But I've never seen or even heard of a laser cutter before.
    Cheers, Chris

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    I'll put some information together and send you a Private Message - watch your inbox.


    2 years ago

    Beautifully designed and built but how hard is it without a laser cutter? I have a Dremel, set square and Stanley knife.

    5 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    I guess it depends on your skills - the holes are only 3-4 mm wide.

    You could try cutting "windows" out of some scrap material and see how you go.

    It might be worth investing in a coping saw?


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you for your time replying to my query. Although I dont have a copong saw, I do have a rod saw blade on one of my hacksaws. It after i drill a small hole, works quite well, but oh boy is it time consuming. One of my grandsons is a Dr Who fanatic and I would love to make him a, Tardis lamp shade for Christmas this year. I made his sister a 'Tiffany' shade a couple of years ago and that took forever bur this project may top it before I'm finished.
    In your instructions you said s lazer saw. I've never seen one. I've had coping saws before, but one of the kids/grandkids/mates must have forgotten to return it. How much did it cost you to buy approximately?


    Reply 2 years ago

    The cheapest coping saw I see on Amazon.com is $5.99


    Since the lines are all straight, you might find it a lot easier to cut from balsa wood or heavy card (like the stuff used for mounting pictures in frames), using an Xacto knife (or similar) and a metal ruler. Balsa is weaker than other woods, but the shade will take no load once it is built and hung. You can buy it online, or from hobby stores (people build model gliders from it).


    Reply 2 years ago

    or get really thin plywood and use an X-ACTO knife



    Reply 2 years ago

    Oh! Sheets of balsa wood would work if you are using a blade and a metal ruler. Lots of "hobby" stores will stock it (it's used to build model aircraft etc), and it's available online.

    John T MacF Mood

    2 years ago

    Brilliant work! I love it. I may have a hand at it with balsa and X-Acto methods. I have the Cricut, so making the pattern to cut with will be a breeze.

    I think the windowed lintel which has "Police Public Call Box" on it in the show might be fun to enlarge a little and put those letters on translucent paper on all four sides. That's the only thing I might change. If I get off my dead arse and do it, I'll post what my outcome looks like.

    1 reply