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Portable TARDIS

Started by Dori, Aug 09, 2006, 09:03 am

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Aug 09, 2006, 09:03 am Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:27 am by scarfwearer
Allo I am wondering if anyone can help me with a problem. Anyone here know a real efficient method of making a TARDIS prop that can be put up and taken down for transport?

It would really suck to lug a police box on my back all over the city...but yet an amusing sight to see for sure. lol Gives me an interesting idea for a picture MUA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

*cough cough*


Aug 09, 2006, 11:19 am #1 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:27 am by scarfwearer
There are quite a few portable TARDISes on this board, including mine, but one thing you have to consider is the weight of the pieces.

You can break the construction down into: base, 3 walls, front doors, corner posts, signage and roof sections and have the whole thing just bolt together.

If you have the posts in an "L" shape fashion, the walls can bolt onto the rear (inner) side of these.  You may also want to consider using 3/4" or 1/2" timber glued and screwed to 1/4" ply wood (the backing sheet) for the main body of the walls etc as this will keep the weight down.

It really is quite a simple thing to do and of course if you want it all really lightweight, you could always cut back on some of the detailing which only adds to the over all weight... for example, don't have any beading on the posts and keep them simple like the new series prop.

Have a hunt around the various builds here, off the top of my head I can remember that Karsten's, Crispin's, Glen's and possibly Dematerialiser's TARDISes break down into sections for transport.

Good luck with your build!


Aug 09, 2006, 01:08 pm #2 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:27 am by scarfwearer
Dori, your signature is utterly hilarious! I wish I'd thought of that!  ;D

Regarding the modular box, make your sign boxes part of the wall... then you'd have heavier walls, but 4 less pieces to worry about. And if you make your corner posts part of the side walls you could lose another 4 pieces. Then you'd only have the roof, base, two side walls, rear wall, two doors (7 parts total). I wish I'd done that.



Aug 09, 2006, 03:06 pm #3 Last Edit: Jun 25, 2011, 11:18 pm by Scarfwearer

There is a discussion along these lines in another thread that may help as well.  You can find it in "The FAQ Section" under "Locking the walls together".  Current link is here -


It includes my post on what we did with our TARDIS way back in 1986.

Best of luck!


Aug 09, 2006, 03:29 pm #4 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:28 am by scarfwearer
An important thing here is to avoid MDF - which is really heavy.

I'm thinking that a fiberglass box would be a lot lighter, wouldn't it?  I've no idea what the cost would be like, so this may not be a viable option.

If you really want to have a really light box, you could build parts of it out of that solid foam insulation which is available in 4'x8' sheets in a variety of thicknesses.  It wouldn't be very durable, but it'd be really light.  If you could glue some 1/8" hardboard on the front (probably need some sort of special glue for this), that might achieve a balance between durability and portability.  I'm thinking about this in relation to the people who make foam core boats.

One thing you might want to think about is building a little cart to haul all your TARDIS pieces around if you're going to be moving it a lot.

Good luck!



Sep 26, 2006, 02:30 pm #5 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:28 am by scarfwearer
Dori, hi!
The idea of a portable and lightweight TARDIS exterior, that could be carried by one or two people and quickly assembled, is of course hugely appealing as it could be made to 'appear' in various surprising places (friends' gardens, etc).

I've had the same idea as Colin there. Builder's foam insulation board. It can be easily (?!) shaped, like polystyrene, with a hot-wire cutter (available from hobby suppliers or improvised WITH CARE from a car battery charger or similar transformer, wooden handles and thin wire). Like polystyrene it is light but it is somewhat stronger/stiffer.

I have made various props from polystyrene eg brick fireplace, stone-and-timber Nativity stable, 'star' hat. However the surface if left bare is too easy to abrade or gouge.

Colin's idea of hardboard, or thin ply, or even tough card or paper bonded to the surface, toughens it considerably without adding too much weight, and it's also then easier to paint. I recommend PVA adhesive (the white stuff - it turns clear when dry), it's available in bulk cartons cheaper from builder's merchants than from craft stores. My brother uses it regularly in his woodworking business for bonding polystyrene, plastic sheet, wood veneer etc.

Paper+PVA is a safer and easier alternative to fibreglass, and several layers of PVA'd paper is surprisingly tough. Watch for shrinking/flexing on drying though, if applying wet paper to thin foam sheets. 

Hope this helps! Graham


Sep 27, 2006, 03:24 pm #6 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:29 am by scarfwearer
The stuff with a foil coating front and back is stronger and much easier to cut (with a stanley knife). It's tough too; I've had a lump of it filling a hole in a shed for a year or so.

But no doubt it could still benefit from a layer of fibreglass and then it could end up more or less weatherproof - I'll give it a go, just for the experiment. Does one layer of matting followed by a layer of smooth fibreglass cloth seem about right?
leonard cohen  1934-2016  standing by the window where the light is strong


Sep 28, 2006, 06:00 pm #7 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:30 am by scarfwearer
I do like the lightweight Tardis idea. It's not the build that I planned to do, but I can't resist trying it.

OK, here's the plan:

I cut a 1" thick sheet of foil-backed insulation foam down to Tardis-wall size and cut eight oblongs out of it, then fill the backs of the bottom six of them with 1/4" foam. Oh, and give it a foam ridge down the middle and those strips at the top.

Cover it front and back with 450gsm chopped strand glass fibre mat, using polyester resin 'cos it's cheap.

Cover the front with fibreglass surface tissue using the same bargain resin.

And there it is, more or less. Well, a windowless wall of it, anyhow. Quick, cheap and light.

BUT... if anyone who's actually done this sort of thing before can see any flaws in this, then now would be a wonderful time to say so! - before I order the stuff. Thanks.
leonard cohen  1934-2016  standing by the window where the light is strong


Mar 23, 2007, 04:43 am #8 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:30 am by scarfwearer
Well, first off, this is my first post, so I'd like to say hello to everyone.
I'm currently doing some work to make a drivable TARDIS. True, it's gonna be real top heavy, so it's mostly just for show.
I'm taking it to Comic Con with me to go with my 10th Doctor costume.
And since there aren't any plans for the new TARDIS, anyone know of a good (preferably cheap) site that sells the new merchandise so I can get a model to use for a reference?


Mar 23, 2007, 05:49 pm #9 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:31 am by scarfwearer
Over in the TARDIS Shells area, look at the thread named "New 2005 Tardis - Specs / Measurements needed/"
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff


May 15, 2008, 07:05 pm #10 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:31 am by scarfwearer
since mine is for video productions, a prop rather than an "heirloom", i'm making the door , one side and a top. that way filmed from an angle, it looks like it has four sides. then you just hang a black matte cloth around the inside of the top to cover the other two sides. when you open the door, all you will see is black..


May 15, 2008, 11:32 pm #11 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:31 am by scarfwearer


May 15, 2008, 11:44 pm #12 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:32 am by scarfwearer
How much detail would you actually be looking for? It seems to my mind that one could do up a hinged foam board replica with high quality graphics pasted to the oustide or carved in if you are of the artsy type.

You could get the pink foam in 4x8 sheets at the hardware store. They use the stuff for miniature war game terrain at my local game store. One person can easily heft two layers of the stuff and the Tardis walls are a pinch smaller and simpler to handle. If you could break them in half as well you should have a package that could be taken around by one person depending on the internal support needed.


May 26, 2009, 05:18 pm #13 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:32 am by scarfwearer
If you are making a wood box, hanging the doors with hinges with removable pins makes it easier than screwing and unscrewing hinges.
x Hannah


May 27, 2009, 11:26 am #14 Last Edit: Jan 21, 2010, 09:32 am by scarfwearer
That's a great tip, dusty - I'm at the stage where I'm going to be dismantling my build (finally) to move it outside and was dreading having to unscrew the hinges for the nth time (only so many times you can do that before you need bigger screws, and then things can shift - you only need to be a couple of mm's out on one hinge to cause a few problems with doors)

Hope your build is going nicely.