Eric taught English for several years and is now a freelance writer.
For the highly practical purposes of storage, I needed a shed. The garden being somewhat on the small side, however, meant a conventional shed wouldn't quite fit the bill. During this mild quandary, a long-repressed ambition surfaced. I would build my own TARDIS. Or perhaps more correctly, something that looked a little like a London Police Box from the last century.
I didn't really work to a plan, save for some ideas floating around in my head which largely changed as the project progressed. While I didn't document every stage (I had no reason to believe it to be a good idea at the time), I will do my best here to give the gist of what I did while entertaining the possibility that you might be suitably inspired to build a blue box in your back garden.
I started with the base. A four-foot square wooden foundation made of 4-inch by 3-inch beams cut at 45 degrees to make a square base. My mitre saw was a little dodgy, so the angles weren't perfect, but they would suffice. Next, I screwed the beams together tightly with two long screws in each corner.
How I Created Passable Pillars
Next, I moved on to the pillars. Now without a doubt, they are not an exact replica of the original, more of a variation on a theme. Nonetheless, they looked OK when finished, particularly after painting them blue (I'll tell you what I painted them with in just a little while). I used eight, 8 foot long, 4-inch by 3-inch beams, the kind you would usually use for a garden shed, then braced them together at right angles with angle brackets along the length, so the brackets faced inside, and I had something loosely resembling 4 Police Box pillars.
Getting Started on the Roof
Once the pillars were drilled and bolted to the inside corners of the base, I buttressed the top with beams that I would later attach the Police Box signs to. After fitting a beam straight across the middle of the inside top beams to pull the roof tightly together, I made a 5-inch, open-ended square box and screwed it into the middle of the cross beam. I then cut 4 pieces of timber for the frame of the roof and screwed these to the sides and top of the 4 respective sides of the box screwed to the middle of the crossbeam. From above, it looked like a cross with the middle section raised, or like a shallow pyramid with a square top. Apologies for not having photos for each stage. At the time, I never thought of archiving it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, even when building a TARDIS.
As for the roof itself, I measured the width of the roof and marked where the plywood sheet met my 5-inch square wooden box in the middle of the roof area. Then I cut it, so it covered the length of the side all the way to the central box so that I ended up with 4 triangular pieces of wood squared off at the ends. I affixed all 4 pieces, using some 2 by 2 inch strips running beneath them where the triangular roof pieces met. I fixed the 4 triangular roof pieces to the central box simply by nailing them down to the central box and the side. The central box served to lift the roof giving the roof that classic slope, and from the top, the roof frame would now resemble a Union Jack raised in the middle. I added some sealant where the roof sheets met to help keep the rain out, sprayed the whole roof area with rubberised paint, the kind you buy for cars, then painted it.
Colour and Cupriniol—TARDIS Blue
As far as the walls were concerned, I opted for 8 mm ply-board, cutting the boards to fit inside the pillars and using filler to seal the gaps. Once the back wall was in place, I couldn't resist the temptation to paint it. Barley wood Cuprinol was the paint of choice. Since the wood I used was slightly weathered and a little dark, it had the TARDIS blue effect, making the box look rather battered and bruised just as you would expect a time-space machine that's been in and out of a few black-holes to look.
Adding the Side Walls
The next job was to add the walls to either side of the entrance and paint them. The TARDIS doors would be worked on later. When asked if it's bigger on the inside, I like to point out that it was up until the point I attached the walls.
You'll see in the picture the box has a floor now. I had some old decking lying around and so fixed a few underfloor beams for support, cut the decking and attached it to the sides and underfloor supports.
The Inner Frame Creates the Classic Police Box Look
Once the walls were attached, it was time to attach the internal frame, which really gives the walls that classic Police Box look. The wood I used was actually free! I went to a popular DIY store and couldn't find what I was looking for inside, so took a look outside. The wood I found was leftover wood destined for the wood burner. They let me take as much as I needed. I cut it, as you can see, so it fits tight, screwed and glued it.
I Added Fake Windows
Next, it was time for the windows. I went simply for the effect of a window rather than actually fitting a glass or perspex sheet. I think it works. Maybe you do too. What did I use? The silvery greyed out areas that pass for windows are made from underfloor insulation. I had a few sheets left over, cut it to fit with a Stanley knife and glued them in. Next, I cut thin 1 x 1 inch strips of timber to make the window frames. Some I drilled and screwed in, while others I just glued in place. Next, I painted them.
How to Create the Sign
I thought long and hard about the sign, but in the end opted for something fairly simple. I used some leftover plywood from the walls, cut them into suitable size strips, and painted them with black creosote. The tricky part was the lettering. I thought about painting them on but decided instead to use sticky back letters cut by myself from silver vinyl. I printed out the words POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX in Arial font on a sheet of paper at a suitable size, cut them out, then traced around my silver vinyl, then painstakingly cut out the lettering. I found the adhesive wasn't strong enough to hold the lettering to the plywood, so I added some all-purpose glue suitable for the outdoors to make the letters firm. I screwed the sign to the top crossbeam, added a strip of beading around the sides after painting it with my trusty blue Cuprinol, and the effect was quite pleasing to the eye.
TARDIS Doors Opened Outwards for Practicality
Getting to the point of making the doors was very exciting. It meant I'd nearly finished the thing. It was fairly straightforward. I used thicker plywood for this. In fact a neighbour of mine had 2 doors from the entrance of a horse trailer which he donated. I cut them to the appropriate dimensions, fitted them with the inner frame as I had the walls, and before long I had 2 TARDIS doors! Now I know in Doctor Who the doors open inward, but given that I was going to put this thing to practical use as a garden shed, it seemed hugely impractical to do that. I would never get in the thing once I started storing things in it. So, for obvious reasons, I fitted the hinges so the doors opened outwards.
Finalising the Doors
The doors were practically done, but they lacked the strip that falls right down the middle the original had. That was easily remedied. I screwed some of the leftover wood I had been using for the frames to the edge of the left door so that the wide end went into the interior, then screwed another strip over the top to create an overhang to catch the second door.
Of Locks and Lamps
I fitted a very basic shed lock that serves the purpose I had in mind for this TARDIS shed. The original had a Yale lock, but for now what I have will suffice. In the photo below you can just see the top of the lamp. The lamp is non-functioning I'm afraid but could easily be replaced with a real one. I made the lamp from a soap dispenser, an old CD, and the half of the spherical part of a bed post to give it a domed appearance which I felt finished the look.