Tardis build part one
Building a full sized Tardis
Tardis Construction Part 1
Two years ago my son came back from his grandmothers saying he had made a Tardis out of cardboard with his uncle Shaun. He was so excited about it and had a great time playing with this homemade Tardis, which lasted a day. As his dad I asked if he would like a real Tardis one day to play in. Of course he said ‘yes’ and then asked me if I could make him one.
‘Yes’ I replied not thinking he would hold me to it for the next two years. Now I knew we would need a lot of money for wood, even just to make a start on the project, and that would be without all the other materials costs like screws, nails, paint and so on. So not having a budget I put the project on hold until I got some money.
Well this was the case until the old pub at the end of our street was being converted into a shop. The outside of the pub was covered by several large panels of wood while the work commenced, and it was painted dark blue which gave my now five year old son an idea.
I was walking him to school one morning earlier this year when he stopped me outside the pub and said,
‘Dad, that wood would be great for my Tardis. Would there be enough?’
I looked at the make shift wooden wall and replied not thinking anything of it,
‘Yea, I think there will be enough.’
Isacc beamed a huge smile as he grabbed my hand and said,
‘Come on Dad, asked the man if we can have the wood for my Tardis.’
Isacc walked me over to a group of busy workmen and said,
‘Come on Dad ask, or I will never get my Tardis.’
I looked down at him and smiled as I replied
‘Ok, but I will ask the man with the different coloured hat on as he looks like he is in charge.’
I moved over to the man asking,
‘Excuse me but can I ask what you will be doing with this wood when you have finished with it?’
The man looked at me a little puzzled as he replied,
‘Why, do you want to build a shed?’
‘No’ I replied ‘it is for a Tardis for my son.’
The man looked down at Isacc, who smiled back up at him with his most angelic look. Then the man looked back at me and said,
‘Where do you live, I will get it dropped off when we have finished with it.’
I gave him my address and we headed to school. Isacc was so excited that he would be getting his Tardis, even if he had to wait for a few weeks until we got the wood.
So that is how it started; and I had no idea at the time of how big this job was going to be. I knew I needed to sort out plans and got strait online to find several different Tardis plans available. I downloaded three to find they were all different and for different Tardis models, used at different times in the show. Isacc made it clear it was the new Tardis he wanted, so I took both the plans and a toy Tardis and drew up my own plans to work from.
The wood arrived in our back lane several weeks later, so with the weather being good and dry I made a start. Now because the wood was reclaimed after being used, I had to strip it back down to plain sheets of plywood and break down the timber frames so I could start the construction side of the project. At this point the whole project seemed simple, and I was able to borrow a Jigsaw from a good friend (Andrew) to make the job easier.
First I started with the base; now this is pretty much a square piece of wood with a frame built around the bottom. I fitted casters into the base so that I could move the finished Tardis around if needed. The base was simple to put together, but it needed a trim around its edge to make it accurate to the real thing. And that was the first time consuming part of the task, as I had to use a hammer and chisel to carve out the edge after marking out the trim with a pencil to keep it strait. Still this was done over a couple of afternoons while Isacc was at school and I soon found I was starting to work on the walls.
This would be a challenge as although the base walls were easy to measure out and cut to size. Panelling wood was something I had never done. Still I had big plans to make this the best Tardis ever for my son so I got to work. First I cut out the four base walls, marking on each wall where the police box sign, windows and panelling would go. Then I cut out the window holes, as my original plans where to make all the windows light up. Then I set about the panelling; cutting wood into thin lengths so I could put the detail on to each of the three walls. This took a lot of work and Isacc also helped on weekends with the hammering and gluing of wood.
With the three walls made I turned to the forth knowing it was just an arch door frame I would fit the doors onto. This seemed easy at first as I had already marked out the two doors on the fourth wall so just needed to cut them out.
Several weeks had pasted by this time and as you can see from the photos in this hub, I now had some bits that resembled a Tardis, but not much more. I was also aware that I had used a lot of wood and I was starting to worry I would run out just before I finished. But Isacc was still excited and this pushed me on to make some visible progress for him. So with the base work done my next big task was to start putting the Tardis together. Now at first the base walls fitted together great and matched the base perfectly. I first used angel brackets to attach each wall panel before I lined up the walls to the base and again used angel brackets to hold the whole thing together.
I now had a good sized box and knew I needed to get the roof made before the weather turned for the winter. But first I needed to fit the outer wooden panels to finish the corners of the main walls off. I was hoping to build the corner panels out of one piece of wood for each side, but with no budget and only a small amount of wood available to work with I used what I had and patched two bits together for each side. This did the job nicely and is not noticeable now the work is done.
The roof proved tricky as again this was a first for me; but the weather was holding up so I measured out the main roof rises cutting them out before I attached them to the walls. I then worked out the angle of the roof panels creating a support beam to build the roof on to. My next job was to work out the four roof panels; remembering to account for the square box that the lamp would be fitted to. Putting the roof on was easy, but once fitted my next problem was to make it water proof. This meant filling all and any gaps between the wood, no matter how small they were. I used filler at first; painting over the dry filler with gloss paint. This worked but cracked when I needed to move the Tardis to work on the painting and signs. I needed another plan and then realised that a good roof or window frame sealant word give me a much stronger and more flexible water seal. Problem solved.
The doors; now I already had the base doors cut out so panelling them was easy after my work on the walls. But fitting them proved to be a little more difficult. First I needed to make sure they were secured, so I found I needed to build a door archway out of some of the timber I had left. Then I had to fit the hinges, so I checked with Isacc which way he wanted his doors to open. Inwards was his reply, so all I had to do was hang the doors after chiselling out the areas for each hinge, so the doors would sit flush to the frame. Once the doors were fitted the Tardis really started to look the part and I could see the hardest part of the job was now done.
The small door for the phone was a similar process to the main doors and was easy this time around having already done this twice before.
By this point I was getting down to the bear ends of the free wood I had been given, but as I only had the police box signs to fit and cut out I knew I was safe. The signs were one of the easiest things to fit and went on quickly.
I now knew I needed to protect the wood from the ever changing weather and I was lucky enough to find someone who could get hold of a blue outdoor paint for free for me. It was a little light in colour, but this was easily fixed by mixing in some black gloss to take the colour down to a good Tardis blue.
Painting was fun and Isacc help for a short time until he found it much more fun to play with his Tardis, pretending to travel to other worlds and times. He played for the whole afternoon and talked about it for days. I knew that this project was now worth all the hard work, but I still had a lot to do.
Windows; at first I had wanted to make the windows all light up but I now knew I could not get hold of enough glass or clear plastic to make eight full windows. So I decided to make the six full wall windows solid. I used the wood I had cut out to make the window holes (which I had saved) although I could have saved a lot of work if I had just not cut those windows out in the first place. Still if the wall windows were all solid; this gave me a flat surface on the inside to work on when I get to kitting out the inside like the Tardis console room.
The frame work was another first and I salvaged some wood from wooded food boxers being thrown away. This wood was great for the frame work of each window, so I made and fitted each frame in turn sealing them in with a good window sealant before painting gloss white. For the door windows I needed them to be real; so I used some clear plastic I had lying around from another project to make the windows themselves. I frosted the windows using some fine sand paper. This gave a great effect and looked good once the frames were in place.
Signs; the wording was going to be difficult to do and get right free hand. But I got around this by making stencils. This took some time but it was worth it in the end as it looks really professional, even though I did have to go over the words with a paint brush, to tidy them up after spraying them on.
Now I was getting down to detail like handles and the lamp on the top. The handles were easy as I scored them form hardware stores for just a few pounds each. They were not the silver I needed, but easily spayed silver with a chrome car spray paint. The lamp I am still making but should be on soon and then it is just the inside to do and the electrics to work on.
All in all this has been a hard but enjoyable project and by shopping around and salvaging most of the wood and paint. The whole project has cost me around £30 so far.
I would like to Thank Andrew for the use of his Jigsaw, The builder for giving me the wood and Stacey’s brother for the paint (As without their help this project may have never gotten done.) I would also like to thank Isacc for his help and my partner Julie for putting up with me.
Thanks for reading this hub and I will complete this story next year when I have fitted the lights sounds and decorated the inside of the Tardis like the console room so Isacc can really enjoy his time machine in full. For now work continues and Isacc has his Tardis.
Please enjoy the pictures.