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TARDIS Project- Part 6

August 26, 2013

Laura’s Blog Entry

Now that we all know we have a TARDIS growing in our backyard, I am retitling the series. No more mystery!

Thought you might want to hear a little about the planning process. It’s Neil’s baby, so I am going to let him cover this part of the project. There’s lots of information, so this will be part one of two entries.

Neil’s Blog Entry

I started the planning by looking online for existing plans, which I found here and here. There were several available but most of them assumed a high level of woodworking skills that I simply did not possess. I needed plans that were designed for a more basic level of skills. I knew I was going to have help from my friends, but I also knew that I was going to be doing a lot of the work myself –  with my limited selection of tools.

I narrowed it down to a few plans that I liked best and began to combine techniques and steps into my own simpler set of plans. To assist me, I built a scale model in Cinema 4D on my laptop. While this helped me visualize what the final product would look like, it also helped me figure out how to actually construct the thing.

One thing to note here is that I didn’t realize at first, when talking about boards and lumber, the numbers aren’t what they seem. For example, a 1x6x8 board is not actually 1 inch by 6 inches by 8 feet. Its more like 3/4 of an inch by 5 and a half inches by 8 feet. Now this is basic, day-one-of-woodshop-class information to most people. For me it was new, and a bit of a problem, because my 3D model was all in whole numbers: 1×6’s, 2×4’s, etc.

So once I was educated on the ins and outs of lumber numbering by my friend, Jay – who was instrumental in the building of the TARDIS – we were ready to start construction.

We began by pouring a two-inch deep slab of concrete.Who knew that you needed 600 lbs. of concrete for a four foot square slab at two inches deep? Not this guy!

Anyway, onto the woodworking.

My plan was to make a big box with plywood sheets and 4×4’s (which are actually 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 for those of you keeping score). Then I would put in all the details, the trim, the windows, etc. Simple right?

For the actual construction of the box, we began by installing 4×4 posts in the corners with these little, metal post-holder-upper-thingies. They were attached to the slab by the bolts you see in the corner in the photo above.

That’s Jay. He’s very smart and helpful.

After pre-cutting the window openings on the plywood sheets, we screwed them to the posts.

Next, we started detailing the corner posts – which were built up from several 1×4’s and 1×6’s. This made them stand out about 2 inches from the plywood walls.

To finish the walls required measuring and cutting 1×4’s for all the trim. A lot of trim.

Each wall had about 12 pieces that needed to be cut and nailed into place. This gave the look of panels without having to actually make panels. Luckily, Jay had a nail gun to make easy work of it. FYI – Nail guns are AWESOME! Apparently, I used way too many more nails than was needed, but like I said, nail guns are AWESOME!

The door was cut out of one of the sheets of plywood and put up using a piano hinge (more education for me). A piano hinge is a super long hinge with like tons of screw holes. It is designed for big heavy doors.

This completed the big box.  Next we added four sign boxes at the top of the TARDIS that say “POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX”.

These required a bit of thinking. They needed to overlap the corner posts and sit flush to the walls and trim; and they needed to be “backless” so I could put lights in them later on in the process. After a brief trip back into my 3D software I came up with a set of plans that did the job.

The boxes were constructed with 1×4’s and 1×6’s. Simple enough but I need to be able to put a piece of plexiglass into the boxes. To these pieces of plexiglass I had affixed the vinyl decals I had made at our local FedEx Kinkos.

Interesting side story: When I was getting the signs printed onto vinyl at FedEx Kinkos, a guy says to me, “Are you building a TARDIS?” I replied that indeed I was and that it was for my daughter.  He replied, “Man, I wish I had a Dad like you.”

Anyway, back to the sign boxes. I figured that I needed to make a channel in the boxes that the plexiglass signs could sit in, but I didn’t have a router. So I took out ye ol’ circular saw, set the depth to about 1/4″ and very carefully ran it across the boards. It worked perfectly. Who needs fancy tools?!

It took a bit of measuring to get the depth right at the point where they overlapped the corner braces, but once cut, they went up very well. The sign boxes were put up using 2×2’s as support braces on the top and bottom.

After looking at the several versions of the TARDIS that appeared on Doctor Who over the years, we decided on a flat, stepped roof. The roof was a huge piece of two-inch plywood and several 2×10’s cut into increasingly smaller, square shapes. That big monster was then lifted onto the big box and screwed into place. There were three steps to the roof with an additional 6″ square piece at the center to hold the light at the top.

Stay tuned for Part Two – Neil will continue with details about the lighting!

Note: If anyone is interested in having a copy of Neil’s C4D file, send us a message and he will be glad to send it to you.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Jay permalink
    August 26, 2013 10:55 pm

    That Jay guy looks HOT! You’re lucky to have a friend like him around

  2. August 27, 2013 4:12 pm

    Of course Neil used Cinema 4D. lol

  3. August 29, 2013 3:54 am

    This is absolutely brilliant. My ambition is to build my own TARDIS one day!

  4. May 19, 2014 2:17 pm


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