Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to make a TARDIS Front Door

So we have a front door. I know right, how weird is that? I decided that the door was pretty ordinary and needed to be replaced. After taking it off its hinges it was still in great condition internally, so a new coat of paint and new hardware would bring it back to life. However, post preparation I still wasn't sure what colour it should be. At this point my wife laughingly said, 'It'd be cool if it looked like the TARDIS.' I stood for a moment and thought, why not? I don't mind and it'll make her happy, so I asked her if that's what she really wanted and now here we are.

Before I start, I want to note that I offered to make the door look exactly (to scale) like the TARDIS of the David Tennant era. However, my wife preferred that I make a homage to it rather than a replica (her words) as she likes the door's lines and hardwood texture. With this in mind I had to compromise and build it so that it's recognisable as the TARDIS without being a replica. I think it turned out alright in any case.

What I used

Wood - I used four pieces of wood; 
1) 64mm x 19mm Pine ('POLICE BOX' sign backing)
2) 22mm Hardwood Moulding ('POLICE BOX' sign trim)
3) 25mm Pine Moulding (vertical strip the runs up the middle of the door)
4) 25mm x 10mm Recycled Hardwood (for the 'PUSH TO OPEN' sign framing) 

Blue Paint and Mineral Turpentine - A gloss external paint is best as it'll last the longest. A 500ml pot will be enough for the whole door with plenty left over for touch ups/recoats down the track. 

Black Spray Paint - This is for the sign background. You can paint it with a brush but spraying it will result in a smoother, more consistent finish with no streaks.

A Paint Brush, Sandpaper - I used a roll of 120 grit and a 1 1/2" brush.

Handles - I used two brushed stainless steel handles with stainless screws. Make sure you use stainless screws as they will be left unpainted and therefore exposed to the elements.

Lettering - I used white vinyl decals that I ordered online from I hadn't used them before this project but it was easy to customise my order and they delivered the decals quickly and with a confirmation email.

Mitre box and saw or compound saw

What to do

To begin with I took the door off its hinges, removed all the hardware, filled any holes/imperfections and sanded it back to be ready for painting. Once that was done I gave it a gloss undercoat in white for paint adhesion and a better finish, as well as to seal and protect the door from the elements.

Once I was happy with it I remounted it and made sure it closed properly, after which I applied three coats of blue gloss. Note: You don't have to remove your door if you don't want to, particularly since rehanging it can be difficult if you don't know what you're doing. Well, hanging it isn't so much the problem so much as getting it to close and open as it should.

 The painted door with hardware attached (bad photo, I know).

Here are the three new pieces of wood and the recycled hardwood (from renovations), for reference. Each was sanded and painted before being assembled as this makes life much easier (in my experience, anyway).

The hardwood moulding for the sign border, painted and cut to size with 45deg corner mitres.

The internet makes getting custom vinyl graphics just SO easy. I used Helvetica Medium as it was the closest font to that used on the TARDIS that was available. I believe Gill Sans is the exact font used on the TARDIS in the TV series.

I don't have photos of my building the sign box and notice frame as the battery on the camera ran out (boooo!). However, it was a simple process. 

The 'PULL TO OPEN' notice frame was made from the recycled hardwood by cutting 45deg mitres and using 20mm stainless tacks to put it together and affix it to the door. The notice itself I made using Word, a reference image of the original sign and a fair bit of work given to finding the right fonts (Times New Roman and Arial fit well), spacing and kerning. Once done I simply printed it up and laminated it, then cut it to size.

The 'POLICE BOX' sign was an 800mm length of pine with the hardwood moulding cut to fit the outside. 

The strip running up the centre of the door was simply painted, cut to size, nailed on (20mm tacks) and a final sand and recoat was applied. Make sure you measure for each piece with the door shut, otherwise you might make it a bit too long and you won't be able to close it.

Once both the notice frame and sign box were built and fixed to the door the mitre gaps were puttied, the paint lightly sanded and then a top coat was applied. The brushed steel handles were then added.

Finally, the signage. My wife really wanted to put the 'BOX' text on, so below is her doing exactly that. Applying vinyl decals is easy - peel off the backing, place the text, use a flexible blade (a credit card is perfect) to smooth it on and then carefully remove the transfer paper. Done!

The Finished Product

Though the pedantic individual within wanted to make a scale reproduction I'm rather pleased with the result. However, my wife is ecstatic! Her face when I was finished was priceless, which is the most important thing of all. NB: The hole on the left side of the door is for the deadlock, which I installed after these photos.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please comment below if there's anything you'd like to ask about the project, or anything to do with a project of your own. Cheers!


  1. Hi, could you email me a list of what you used for the wood and the size of it all? I can't really understand this all, blame my English mind for it. But I am trying to do this with my bedroom door and I can't really understand what size to make the decals. my email is thank you :)

    1. Hi Bayley,

      The measurements are in the tutorial, but here they are again for simplicity:

      1) 64mm x 19mm Pine ('POLICE BOX' sign backing)
      2) 22mm Hardwood Moulding ('POLICE BOX' sign trim)
      3) 25mm Pine Moulding (vertical strip the runs up the middle of the door)
      4) 25mm x 10mm Recycled Hardwood (for the 'PUSH TO OPEN' sign framing)

      Make sure you seal it all with many layers of paint, to ensure that it's protected from the elements. If you make your own TARDIS door I'd love to see the photos!

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