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My T.A.R.D.I.S. letterbox build.

Started by paulbatfay, Mar 26, 2011, 07:50 am

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My letterbox is on its last leg, and I have low ceilings, so it makes sense for me to build myself a T.A.R.D.I.S. letterbox.

This will place the little T.A.R.D.I.S. to-be in a rather public spot.  I haven't quite thought through all the challenges yet, but this is part of the reason for blogging my build. 

The attention to detail on other builds on this site is impressive, so I hope to maintain as much integrity as possible with the build of what will be a quite small T.A.R.D.I.S.

I'll try to post every week.  This might take me a few months.  Comments are of course welcome.



Mar 26, 2011, 03:41 pm #2 Last Edit: Mar 26, 2011, 03:43 pm by DoctorWho8
You may want to check with your local postmaster about regulations with postal boxes.  You may not be able to do a full-size police box.  It would probably be easier to build a police post and have the appropriate mailing signage on the door and the red flag on the side.  If you are allowed to build a full size Police Box, how about a NST?  I have drawings available for free in the reference section along with PDFs for the signage.  If you need to do a custom door sign with the Post Office preferred verbiage, let me know and I'll do one up for you to get a sign made.
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff


Apr 09, 2011, 01:37 pm #3 Last Edit: Apr 09, 2011, 03:15 pm by Scarfwearer
I'm 3 weeks into the build and just doing a few hours each weekend.

I've cut most of the components out and tomorrow I will try to cut out the framed windows with a jig-saw, I hope I don't stuff it up.

The timber I'm using is Pine for the four posts and some of the trims, and the roof and walls/doors are Marine Ply of different widths.  It's expensive but I want it to be as weather-proof as possible.

I think this will take me about another month.  I still need to work out how to do the flashing light and whether to have a sound effect when mail is delivered by the postman.

My dog Boonie is the site supervisor, keeping the job on track.

All my timber for the project.jpgPaper template.jpgThe first cut is the deepest.jpgWall and overlap together.jpgAll my timber for the project.jpgPaper template.jpgTardis roof components.jpgThe first cut is the deepest.jpgWall and overlap together.jpg


I'm now 10 weeks into my letterbox build.  It is all starting to come together.

So far I have cut all the required timber and marine ply, worked out the mail-chute and I'm now half-way through the painting.

I gave this website a mention when I was featured on the local radio carpentry show "the weekend woodies" a couple of weekends ago (thanks Peter Marcia for the good advice).

After my 15 minutes of fame, dozens of others rang with their doctor-who-related carpentry odysseys.  Hopefully some will start blogging!

The big issues I have faced so far are:
 * Will it be a proper letterbox?  I have looked up the Australian Standard for letterboxes and also Australia Post's preferences.  Oddly enough, there are no specific guidelines for tardises.  But I will be adherent to the general guidelines!
 * How to do the windows and recessed panels on the walls and doors? In the end I decided to refrain from using glass or perspex.  I've cut out the window panes with a jigsaw instead and I will be painting either a silver or yellow background to shine through the panes.  The toughest part here was I was cutting 6mm thick (1/4 inch) marine ply and the cross-frames were only 7mm wide.  With 48 panes to cut out, it was a miracle I didn't break any.  Marine ply is strong stuff.
 * How do I protect the materials from moisture? That is what I rang up the radio show about.  They suggested oil-based primer/sealer, which I am currently painting the individual pieces with now.  Also the posts are made of treated pine, so I'm having to re-seal their cut ends.  Lastly, each individual piece is being painted before it gets put together (all 57 bits of timber).
 * How do I work out the layered parts underneath the Police Box sign?  This was even harder because I have never been good at carpentry, and I needed to work out how the mail was going to go in. The answer was trial and error, and to put a wall together as I went.  Experienced tardis builders will probably wince when they read this or see the photos.  The luxury I have is that this is a letterbox imitating a tardis, and I am compelled to make some concessions for practicality!
 * Do I do the angled roof or not?  Well, the answer is "no" for now because I can't think of a way to do it.  So the top of the roof will be flat.  But if I can think of a way to do it later, I can add it.  
 * How do I put it together?  I've decided that if I want to move house, or heaven forbid repair, my tardis letterbox, it needs to be able to be disassembled... but only be me.  The answer I think is to have (just about) all the fixings on the inside and have lockable doors.  The walls and doors with their mouldings will be glued and screwed together and will not be able to be dis-assembled.
 * How do I protect it from theft?  I've decided to have four metal stirrups between the base plate and a concrete plinth buried in the ground.  
 * How do I protect it from graffiti?  I will have spare metal signs made up for the "St John Ambulance" and "Police Box" signs.  I will also have no issue with repainting over any graffiti, I have plenty of spare paint.
 * How do I protect it from vandals?  I am building it very strongly and have a secret plan to make it fireproof on the inside!
 * What colour should I paint it?  I've gone for a slightly lighter-than-navy-blue colour, locally called "Night-Flyer" in Australia.  Maybe the name won me over, but it will look really good.

Still yet to be done is the rest of the painting, putting it together, the signage, the plinth & stirrups, the light and sound effects and a sensor to set them off when mail gets delivered.  

I think time-wise I am about two months off completion.  Which is good because I'm really having fun building it!

PS - Just saw a few days ago the new Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Wife".  This features the Doctor being able to converse with the spirit of his tardis, trapped in a female's body.  Great episode, but I noticed something there for the tardis geeks (like me) about 35 minutes into the episode: The female tardis scolds the Doctor for having walked past a "Pull to Open" sign for 700 years, yet he still pushes open the doors!  Hilarious.  I have taken solace from this, because my tardis letterbox will need outwardly opening doors.  This should also put to rest any controversy (on this site or anywhere else) about which way the doors should open.  The tardis hath spoken!



Looking mighty nice for a Police Mail Box. :D
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff


larry cain

You handle a saber saw great looks great.


I like your approach to this :)  I went down a similar route, cutting my frames out of one sheet, but not the panels.   Good idea.
Re the pull to open comment from IDRIS.  Surely that refers to the phone cupboard and not the front door? 


Well, almost 4 months since my last update.  Lots of work on the TARDIS done since then, in the cold and dark of the Southern Hemisphere winter. 

It took forever to paint each of the 57 timber components...but after 2 months, it was mission accomplished.  I did the window panes with hammer-finish silver paint.  It looks fabulous.

Then it was time to get the walls and doors put together. You can see in the photos of the walls the vertical moulding running down the middle. Before I put that on, I used tiny 25mm nails down the same line to attach the back plate with the cutout overlap.  After attaching the vertical moulding with 30mm gal nails, I attached the top four horizontal mouldings using the gal nails and some 40mm stainless steel nails. The top moulding was most problematic, it needed pilot holes for the vertical nails and also a horizontal nail to 'pin' it to the top of the over 3 mouldings. Confused? Yeah, well I suppose you really had to be there for that one.

Everything has gone together with stainless steel brackets.  Fitting the doors was a bit difficult.  I had to trim them down here and there and repaint the edges.  Also, I'm a bit impatient with hanging doors, so I put the hinges on the outside.  It looks a little dodgy, but the doors line up really well.  Basically it is now at "lock-up" stage.

The only things left are the signs and light.  Should take another few weeks, then it's done.Week10a.jpgWeek15a.jpgWeek16a.jpgWeek17a.jpgWeek17b.jpgWeek17c.jpgWeek20a.jpgWeek20b.jpgWeek20c.jpgWeek20d.jpgWeek20e.jpgWeek22a.jpgWeek22b.jpgWeek22c.jpgWeek22d.jpgWeek22e.jpgWeek22f.jpgWeek24a.jpgWeek24b.jpgWeek24c.jpg[attachid]Week24d.jpg[/attach]


I love this! I've had similar ideas in the past, but my neighbourhood is such a cesspit that it wouldn't survive one night without being vandalised/smashed/stolen. So the mail goes through the top sign housing?


I would love to see the look of the posties face when he slips in the first letter  :D
Very nice Tardis Letter Box, are the signage going to be lit.

Rassilons Rod

also note... "the ice warriors" and "the 11th hour" :D

Lovely looking box :)
In the cities in the streets there's a tension you can feel,
The breaking strain is fast approaching, guns and riots.
Politicians gamble and lie to save their skins,
And the press get fed the scapegoats,
Public Enema Number One.

larry cain

Looks nice and funny about the same size of the DVD Tardis I built out of Solid Oak 24" sq base 55" tall. This would be great for postal packages. hmmmmm


It's been a couple of months since my last update, this time mainly due to needing to put in a front garden for my TARDIS letterbox.

The major technical hitches I've encountered in the meantime have been around the mailflap.  I had a disastrous first attempt at the hinge (see the close up photo complete with bent nails... BODGY!) but them my wife Melsie got me back on track with a nice simple iea, using the tiniest eyelet screws you can get, and a couple of nails. The benefit of another point of view.

Apart from that, all my planning came through OK... measuring out the coachbolt holes to connect the plinth to the base of the TARDIS; using a box (TARDIS blue of course) for the plinth so the metal stirrups stayed perpendicular; painting each individual pice before assembly so the TARDIS would be truly waterproof.

The changes to original plans I made were:
a) to handpaint the Police Box signs instead of getting metal ones (a suggestion from my Aunt Louise, she reckoned it would be more authentic that way)
b) to buy a flashing blue light from eBay (I figured that I needing something electronic. I decided originally that having the TARDIS lit from the inside wasn't feasable when it was also a functioning letterbox). 
c) to have a flat roof, for the moment anyway.
d) to not have a St John Ambulance sign yet (I just wanted to get the thing out the front as soon as I could!)

The TARDIS is closest in looks to a Season 16-ish Tom Baker model.  Oversized blue light without the metal "lamp" frame, and flattish roof.  The main difference is that it all my windows panes are a consistent colour.

Having said all this, I'm really happy with my TARDIS letterbox.  It is identifiable as a TARDIS; it is a functioning letterbox (the postman worked it out first go, and we have had virtually no junkmail this week); the shade of blue looks great on the street; the dings and scrapes on it are reminders of the 9 month long build; and everyone seems to love it.  And no vandalism yet!

It's great to see that another TARDIS letterbox is being built and recorded on this site (in Belgium ! Wow!).  I thought I might have been the first one, but there is actually another one.  It was built last year in Australia, but I don't think it was charted on  The link is here, and I think it's a really good job too:

Hopefully more TARDIS letterboxes start springing up around the world.  Thanks for following my posts, and providing me some inspiration along the way.a Hole in the ground.jpgb Plinth.jpgc How I marked the holes.jpgd Coachbolt holes.jpge Plinth in ground.jpgf Another lick of paint.jpgg Sign stencils.jpgh Hand painting the signs.jpgi Three same signs.jpgj Bodgy first attempt at hinge.jpgk Wifes idea for the flap.jpgl Stainless steel numbers.jpgm Protecting the mail recepticle.jpgn Flashing blue light from eBay.jpgo Finished, but not installed.jpgp Carting it out to the front.jpgq Coachbolts attached to stirrups.jpgr In the ground with the old letterboxes hole in front.jpgs Reveal 1.jpgt Reveal 2.jpg[attachid]u Reveal 3.jpg[/attach][attachid]v Reveal 4.jpg[/attach][attachid]w Reveal 5.jpg[/attach][attachid]x Reveal 6.jpg[/attach][attachid]y Reveal 7.jpg[/attach]