A cardboard TARDIS.

DIY Cardboard TARDIS


The TARDIS: an icon of British culture that has captured the hearts and imaginations of both kids and adults for over half a century. Who wouldn’t want a magical box that could take you anywhere and everywhere in the blink of an eye? Well now you can make your very own TARDIS! With just some cardboard, glue, and paint you can make a police box that would make the Doctor proud. This project is perfect for sparking your child’s imagination and creativity or just for spicing up any Whovian’s home. 

tardis

Supplies:

  • 1 box 18 x 18 x 24 inches (or any large, tall box)
  • 4 thinner pieces of cardboard (about 4 x 10 inches)
  • 1 paper cup (about 3 inches in diameter at rim)
  • Dark blue cardstock
  • Acrylic paint (blue, dark blue, black, white, grey, and brown)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Ruler
  • Glue
  • Exacto knife
  • Scissors
  • TARDIS door sign printout
  • White paint pens (optional)

Method:

1.Glue just one side of the box shut. This will become the top of your TARDIS.

A plain 18 by 18 by 24 inch box.

Glue one side of the box shut.

2. Fold your four thinner pieces of cardboard in half (hotdog style). I used the cardboard from the bottom of a case of bottled waters but any thin cardboard will do. Glue these pieces of cardboard inside your large box at each of the four corners of the unglued end. This will join and stabilize the sides of your TARDIS. You can use paper clips to hold the pieces of cardboard in place while the glue dries. If you used a different box that is taller and has edges that are already joined, you can skip this step.

Four thin 4 by 10 inch pieces of cardboard folded hotdog style.

3. Use brown paint to cover up any marking that might be on your box. If you do not prime the box with brown paint then the markings will show through later on. As you can see, I cut out the doors before painting over the markings. In hindsight, it’s much easier to paint over them before you start measuring and cutting.

Paint over any markings on the box with brown paint.

4. Use a ruler to measure a horizontal line 3 inches from the top of the box. Continue this line around all four sides of your TARDIS. If you are using a different sized box, adjust this line as necessary so your TARDIS looks proportional. This band will become the black and white “Police Public Call Box” sign at the top. 

Measure a horizontal line 3 inches from the top of your box.

5. Choose which side of the box you want to be the front of your TARDIS. Use a ruler to measure and draw a vertical line 9 inches from the side of the box. This line should extend from the bottom of the “Police Public Call Box” sign to the bottom of the box. If you are using a different sized box, you will have to adjust this line so that it falls on half the width of the box you are using. 

Measure a vertical line 9 inches from the side of your box.

6. Carefully cut along the line you just drew using an exacto knife. Remember, you should cut from the bottom of the “Police Public Call Box” sign to the bottom of the box. You might have to go over the line with the exacto knife a few times before it cuts through completely. Next, cut along the line at the bottom of the “Police Public Call Box” sign. Voila, now your cardboard TARDIS has doors!

The doors of the cardboard TARDIS cut out using an exacto knife.

7. Measure out the windows on all four sides of the box. The windows and panels are all 7 inches wide and 6 1/4 inches tall. With the windows, the panes are approximately 3 1/8 inches tall and 2 1/4 inches wide. The windows and panels should have a padding of 1 inch on all sides. This means that there should be 2 inches between the left and right windows.

Measuring out the windows for the cardboard TARDIS.

8. Paint your windows. I painted the bottom left and right panes grey. I used a shade called “Drizzle Grey” by Delta Creamcoat. All the other panes are painted black. I used a size 8 flat brush for painting the panes. I then used a size 0 round brush to paint a white line around each of the panes. Pant your cardboard TARDIS however you like though.

Paint the windows of the cardboard TARDIS black, grey, and white.

The windows on all four sides of the cardboard TARDIS painted.

9. Paint the sides and top of your cardboard TARDIS blue. I used a shade called “True Blue” by Folk art and a large flat brush. Also, paint the 3 inch band at the top of the box black. 

All four sides of the box painted blue and the top band black.

10. Measure out the panels on all four sides of the box. Like the windows, they should all be 7 inches wide and 6 1/4 inches tall with an inch of padding on each side. Use a size 0 round brush or any other brush to paint along these lines with a dark blue. I used a shade called “Ink Spot” by Folk Art.

Measure and paint the outline of the panels dark blue.

11. Trace out and paint the words “Police Public Call Box” in large, blocky sans-serif letters along the black band at the top of the box. I used a size 0 round brush and white paint but you could also use white paint pens if you prefer.

The "Police Public Call Box" sign painted in white, block sans-serif letters.

12. Print and cut out a copy of the TARDIS door sign from the internet. Make sure you resize it so that it will fit within a 7 x 6 1/4 inch panel. Glue the sign in the panel below the left window on the front of you TARDIS. You could also paint the door sign by hand if you’re gung-ho or don’t like the look of the paper printout. 

13. Paint on a keyhole and door handles using grey and black paint. The door handle is 3 1/4 inches long, while the phone handle is 2 1/2 inches long. For the keyhole, I just used a nickel to draw the circle. 

The cardboard TARDIS with the door sign glued on and the handles and keyhole painted on.

14. Now for the light. Cut the top of your paper cup off using an exacto knife so that the cup is about 3 inches tall. I painted the cup grey with a small line of blue at the base and four thicker lines going up.

A paper cup with the top cut off so that it is 3 inches tall.

The paper cup painted to look like the light of top of the TARDIS.

15. Measure and cut out a circle of dark blue paper approximately 3 inches in diameter. Make a small 1 1/2 inch cut that goes to the center of the circle. Glue one flap of this cut over the top of the other so that it makes a cone shape.

A 3 inch diameter circle of blue cardstock with 1 1/2 slit cut toward the center.

Glue one flap of the cut in the circle on top of the other to make a cone shape.

16. Glue the paper cone you just made to the top of the paper cup. Let it dry for a few minutes. Then glue the paper cup to the top of your cardboard TARDIS. 

Glue the paper cone on top of the paper cup.

Glue the paper cup to the top of your cardboard TARDIS.

Optional: While you are waiting for the paper cup you painted and glued to finish drying, you can add some embellishments to your cardboard TARDIS. For example, I painted the St. John Ambulance seal on the front door of my TARDIS. The circle for the seal is about 2 1/4 inches in diameter. The series 9 finale also inspired me to paint the inside of the doors to look line the interior of the 1st Doctor’s TARDIS. The background is grey and the white roundels are about 6 3/4 cinches in diameter. Look at that color scheme–classic!

The St. John ambulance seal painted on the door of the cardboard TARDIS.

The inside of the doors painted to look like the interior of the 1st Doctor's TARDIS.

And there you have it! Now you and/or your kids are the proud owners of your very own Type 20 TARDIS with a faulty chameleon circuit. Now all that’s left is to grab your sonic screwdriver and head out on an adventure. So…all of time and space, everything that ever happened or ever will–where do you want to start?

The finished cardboard TARDIS with one of the doors ajar.

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