Monday, January 6, 2014

Crafty Gamer - TARDIS Dual Dice Tray

In my last Crafty Gamer post, I talked about DIY dice trays, and how easy it was to make your own. But what if you want to make something a little more complicated...say, like the Doctor's TARDIS?

"Bigger in the Inside..."

(This post is more of my experience, not an instructional. May post the official list of supplies used later.)

So, I was walking along Michaels early December, gathering tools for some crafty Christmas gifts. I was thinking that this year, I would make something for my brother instead of buying a gift to wrap. Like me, my brother enjoys Doctor Who, so with that mindset I considered my options. The first thing to come to mind was "wouldn't it be cool to own a TARDIS?" It was then when I saw a couple of plain wooden boxes, and something clicked.

I started checking out the wooden boxes, opening and closing them, grabbing two and comparing sizes, and an idea started to take shape. Suddenly, the bottom halves of the boxes assembled in my mind to form the shape of the TARDIS. Scouring around the wooden parts aisle, I found a square plague that made the perfect TARDIS base. After grabbing some blue felt, I got home with about $10 worth of material, a screwdriver, and a vivid imagination.

The final image was already in my head when I saw all this.

If I unscrewed the box lids and hinges, then take the two bottom halves right on top of the wooden plague...whoa!

Take those top halves apart...

...then stand up the bottom halves and you get...

...the TARDIS...NAKED!!

It's the shape of a TARDIS. That's the TARDIS! Fortunately, my OCD wasn't ridiculous enough to take actual measurements into account. I mean, all it is is a rectangular box, and this fits the bill nicely! This would perfectly make two dice trays that, when assembled, will become the Doctor's TARDIS! Little did I knew that there was much more work to be done...

"I am Definitely a Madman with a Box."

I need to keep these two halves together somehow when they're not being used. To this, I directed my attention to magnets, particularly those powerful tiny magnets! As great as these were, I was still operating on a budget on this project, and the magnets alone were hefty in price. Thus began one of many compromises throughout this project.

Compromise #1: Make the corners one half magnets, the other half something to stick to the magnets - Ideally, it would've been great to set corners in both halves to have magnets, thus ensuring secure closure. But those magnets were pricey, and boaring holes into the corners carefully with just a nail into soft wood wasn't easy.

Drilling a hole with a nail was quite "boring!"

It was VERY hard to do without some splintering.

In the end, the corners on the other half used recycled screws from the box's old hinges. The heads where flat, making it flush with the wood and still ensuring a magnetic seal. Plus, since the wood wasn't too heavy, the magnets worked fine!

One half magnets, the other half screws.'s holding! HOLDING!!

With that out of the way, I needed to attach the TARDIS to its base as well. Once again, MAGNETS to the rescue! This time, however, I used larger, flatter powerful magnets. Also, I eventually bought some wood chisels to carve out larger holes into the more-legit wood base.

Since this was "wood wood," I needed something more than just a nail.

Four neat wholes, four slightly larger magnets.

The one thing I didn't figure out at the time was how the bottom of the TARDIS would adhere to the magnetic base. But for now, all the magnets were in place.

With the magnets finally done, it was time to get painting. A simple double coat of a proper TARDIS-blue, and everything was that much closer to being an awesome dice tray gift.

Hello, "Sexy!"

Unfortunately, from this point on, panic ensued.

"If You're a Doctor, Then Why Does Your Box Say 'Police'?"

The details of the TARDIS began as an extravagent plan to print just the lines, labels, white windows, and the "police box" sign on some wood decal paper, and then just applying the decals to the box. I thought it would be as simple as that. But the online exclusivity of wood decal paper quickly made the idea a "shot in the dark" with little room and income for error. So, the next best idea was to get a clear label adhesive and run it through the printer.

So, I was able to get some clear label paper at a nearby office supply store, and I quickly got to work capturing all the details a TARDIS should have - the lines, signs, and window panes. A HUGE shoutout to Cubeecraft and their TARDIS template, which I used as a reference when creating all the details. I've used their TARDIS cubeecraft as my Christmas tree topper for the past 2 times we had a tree!

It makes all the Christmas Specials more special...

Anyways, what came out of all this was about a week's worth of frustration right before Christmas Eve, because I found out 2 very important things in the end: (1) The "clear" label paper I bought was actually frosty, and (2) printers can't print white. So, all of a sudden, I had no plan to detail my TARDIS. With time running out, I had one other option.

Compromise #2: A Sharpie - With full label printing out of the picture (and in retrospect, for the better), I decided that the lines could and should be done by hand. So, with a clear mind and OCD-like reflexes, I made a ruler out of the template and started marking pencil ticks where the corners and lines should be, and then going over them with a black sharpie.

Lines! Lines!! LINES!!!

This was painful, then became fun...then painful again.

I may be OCD, but that's DAMN good!!

Once those were completely done, I got to finally line the box with the blue felt to make a proper dice tray. With the felt complete, I ended my Christmas Eve night completely restless for the next day.

"My Time is Running Out..."

Christmas morning was tense. I still had to create windows and the rest of the signage on the TARDIS, but NONE of the office supply stores were open on Christmas day. All I had was a Walgreens. It would have to do.

Like a mad Doctor, I rushed in and gathered anything and everything that could help. In true "Doctor Who" fashion, I rushed into Walgreens with no plan, and ran out with a couple of white label stickers, some "My Name Is" large labels, and some white-out. With little time to spare, I got to work on the final parts.

I "MacGyver"ed this shit.

Compromise #3: White-label Windows - Since I couldn't print white, I might as well use white stickers (why I didn't think this before beats the hell outta me). After some careful measurements and precision cuts, I cut enough tiny squares to stick onto the box in such a way that the box's blue color comes through as the window's frame. It came out MUCH better than I thought! Next...

Compromise #4: "My Name Is" Doctor Who - The exclusion of printing the color white made printing the sign on the TARDIS door to be pointless. So, I had to print it on a white label. With no white label paper available to buy on Christmas Eve, I resorted to the "My Name Is" labels. This was a one-shot, which could only be justified with pictures. After careful measurements, I taped the label to paper and printed with fingers crossed. The end result was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

This will never work, this will never work...


How awesome was that? A couple of snips later, and BAM! Right on the door! I did the "St. John Ambulance" label in the same way, making quick work for something I thought would've taken the longest time. The only thing left was...

Compromise #5: A White-less "Police Box" label - It turns out that the "frosty" label paper wasn't a complete waste after all. While the white from the "Police Box" letters were absent, my "hail-mary" solution in the end was brilliant. Exposing the sticky-side up, I used the white-out and brushed in the white color! Stick it to the box, and "allons-y" - the Police Sign was up!

Can you believe the windows and signs were just white labels?

Within a full day's work, I was able to get the dice tray fully complete, but only most of the TARDIS was done. There was still a little something missing. For that, let's go back in time a little.

"Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey"

During this process, I made several more trips to Michaels for more supplies, like spray paints and wood-carving tools. But I also picked up another smaller square plaque, some wooden boardgame tokens, and some mangetic square labels. It wasn't in the original plan, but I decided then that the TARDIS wouldn't be complete without its iconic lantern on top. The best way to get this done was to give it a magnetic "hat" of sorts.


Back to Christmas Day. I've already colored the small square plaque blue, and one of the wooden meeples white and blue (it was as close to a lantern shape that I could find). After gluing the pieces together, I had nearly everything done. The last thing was to get it all magnetized. With the thin magnetic squares, I stuck the adhesive sizes as well as I can against the wood and aligned everything in place.

You can practically hear the engine whirring...

...and it splits to dual dice trays!!

It's almost poetic how I finished this on Christmas Day last year, since it was the same day of Matt Smith's farewell as the Doctor.

I'll post up a post-mortem later, because I'll most likely make one for myself at a later time. I hope you enjoyed reading about this process as I did writing it up!
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