The TARDIS Bookshelves

This year for Christmas we wanted to get our kids something really cool, like rocket packs or something.

photo (10)Since there was a lack of Consumer Reports info on these, I decided to make something instead. I was inspired by a bookshelf that my late grandfather had made me for Christmas many years ago. Although he was a skilled woodworker, I felt it was a simple enough project to try to emulate.

Both of the kids are huge Who fans. I’d seen many a TARDIS bookshelf on the internet, and decided to try my own take on the idea. Originally this just consisted of blue painted shelves, but quickly got more complicated…



I started with a quick sketchup on a post it note and figured out rough dimensions so I could make a list of what I needed. There is a suprising number of linear feet of wood needed for shelves. Altogether with the wood, nails, screws, paint, and PL200 I spent about $120 on materials to make two of these. I could have got a finer quality of board, but since I was going to paint them I didn’t mind if there were knots in the wood.


Here’s the basic shelf I ended up with. I could have done this better by using a router to make slots for the shelf pieces to fit into, but in the end I just screwed them from the ends with a little construction adhesive on the joint. I drilled pilot holes for the screws to avoid splitting the wood. The router table is another project that I haven’t started yet.

shelf-2The trim pieces on the sides covered the screw heads so I didn’t have to fill them. Since these were not structural, they are put on with adhesive and a few small finish nails. The nails are basically just there to hold it in place until the PL200 dries.


I used the table saw to 45 the corner pieces so the joint looked nicer. I put these on the same way as the side trim.


Starting to look more police box-esque, but not quite there. I felt the top needed another step on it, and that the police box signs across the top needed accenting somehow. I wanted to do this as simple as possible since I was running out of time at this point, and every change I made I had to do twice since I was building two at the same time.


What I ended up doing was cutting 3/8″x 3/8″ strips to outline the signs, and just cut a shorter, narrower board to add dimension to the top. I then used a wood filler to fill screw holes and some of the rougher knots.


I had not yet given much thought to the light, and found myself searching the house for something suitable. I raided Luxury Lane’s supply closet and came up with these jars. I screwed the plastic lid to the top of the shelf so that the jar twists on. The glass jar is painted white from the inside with spray paint. Eventually I may put an LED inside.


Finally all ready for paint. I thought about brushing the whole thing, but knew it would look waaaay better if it was sprayed. Problem was, there was snow on the ground outside, and I needed a usable spray environment. This smells like a new project…


Kylee said I should spatter red paint all over the inside of the plastic.

 I laid down some drop cloths in the corner of the basement, hung plastic sheeting, put a fluorescent light on the ceiling plugged into an extension cord and behold- temporary spray booth! I’m going to make a less temporary version of this someday in the coal room with some improvements; like a vent fan and more space, but this worked for now. The spray rig pictured was a bit overkill for painting shelves. One of those Wagner guns with the paint cup would work fine.


I used a latex Kilz I had laying around to prime the whole thing. Two coats covered well despite having to thin the paint some to get it to spray right. Now that I had the white base for the letters and the windows I had to mask them off. I used contact paper fed into a laser printer to make the letter masks. This worked, but not very well. You get a paper jam 75% of the time. I cut the printed letters out with an exacto and freehand stuck them on. The font used was London Tube. In hindsight, having decals made would have probably been a better idea.


I used spray can flat black over the signs, and accidentally oversprayed the windows that I hadn’t masked yet. I salvaged the situation by misting a light coat over the whole area to make it uniform giving the windows a somewhat frosted look.


The blue paint bled under the window masks necessitating outlining the windows in black permanent marker, another happy accident.


Since I had differing sheens between the different colors, I sprayed a final two coats of polyurethane satin clear over the whole thing to tie it all together. This step really made the finished product look a lot better.

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I had to put fans on them to dry everything as quick as possible, I think they still smelled like paint on Christmas morning. Despite my rather average carpentry skills, I was pleased overall with how they turned out. I underestimated the time needed for these by far, I had almost 30 hours into the pair from start to finish. The only thing I would change would be to make them from 3/4″ MDF rather than pine boards. The pine wasn’t cured all that well when I got it, they warped quite a bit before I used them making the whole project more difficult. Something I will surely consider when I make my full size Police Box…

TARDIS Bookcase Full with Love

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