Police Box archive

Thursday 27 November 2008

Dr Who fans will appreciate Julie and Fred Byrne's scrollsawn model of a police box complete with flashing light


The telephone inside these kiosks was linked to the local police station, and the flashing light on the top told the officer on the beat that his presence was required. Joe Public could also use it to summon police, fire or ambulance. They were displaced in the 1960s by two-way radios at roughly the time that Dr Who made his first appearance in one.

This model is made from 6 and 3mm ply and the blue beacon and white interior lights are switch-operated.

Getting started

After enlarging the main pattern make four copies, three to stick to the plywood side panels and one to be used as a measurement guide and place reference.

Cut the 6 and 3mm plywood side panels to size then sand the top surfaces smooth before cutting out the windows and panelling detail.

Using wide Sellotape, tape together all four of the 3mm panels then tape the 6mm panels into two separate pairs.

Cut three of the paper patterns around the panel section to fit exactly onto the side panel pieces. Use the glue stick to attach the two window detail patterns to the pair of 6mm plywood panels, and the panelling detailed pattern to the 3mm panels.

Drill pilot holes

Drill a 3mm hole in each of the marked openings, thread a 5mm blade through each hole in turn and attach it to the scrollsaw, cut right into the corner of the opening then back out the blade just enough to make the turn, and remove the waste.

Remove the tape and patterns, sand the openings with 220-320-grit paper and remove the fine dust with a Tack cloth.

Glue panel segments

Brush glue evenly over the underside of the 3mm panel. Turn the panel over and align with the top of the 6mm panel, press firmly into place and secure with masking tape. Remove any excess glue and repeat with the remaining six panels. Set aside to allow the glue to cure.

More cutting

When the panels are dry trim two down by 9mm on both sides so when the four sides are placed together they will make a square.

Referring to the pattern, measure, mark and cut out the two doors from the front panel.

Before cutting out the beacon components drill a 6mm hole in the centre of the lower square (for the blue bulb) and four 2mm holes, one for each corner of the lower and upper squares, being careful not to drill all the way through the thin upper square.

Continue to cut out all the pieces.


Position the hinges, three on each side of the frame opening, mark their location on both the frame and doors, then cut out the recess to a depth of 0.5-1mm. Use a 1mm drill bit to make a pilot hole for each of the screws.

Roof & mouldings

Drill a 6mm centre hole in the top roof piece to take the blue light, then cut out the centre of the two inner roof pieces to make a recess for concealing the light workings.

Disc sand carefully to round over one edge, along the length of the four wider corner mouldings. Prior to sanding the top roof piece, measure and mark a 20mm square in the centre for the location of the beacon. Also mark a centre line all the way around the side edge to help maintain an even thickness while sanding.

Carefully hold the piece against the disc sander at an angle and sand down only as far as your pencil lines, turn the piece round and sand the opposite side before progressing to the other two sides.

Door handles

Round over the tops of the handles and use a triangular needle file to help create the side detail before going through the grits to hand sand all the pieces smooth.


After sealing all plywood surfaces with acrylic sanding sealer and allowing it to dry, mix the ultramarine blue with a very small amount of black to obtain the desired shade of blue, then dilute the paint by 10% to make it easier to work with, and paint all the outer surfaces. Paint the inner walls light grey.


Dilute a small quantity of PVA glue with water and spread it out evenly around the 'window' tracing paper oblongs and glazing bars.

To keep the paper from curing up while drying, attach strips of masking tape around the four sides.

To make the beacon light, roll up a small length of tracing paper around an 8mm dowel secured with Sellotape and superglue this within the beacon frame.

Coming together

Attach the hinges to the doors and then to the frame, and stick the floor to the baseplate with PVA.

Next, glue and pin the side panels together, wiping away surplus glue, then pair up the corner mouldings and glue each pair in position, secure and allow the glue to cure.

Glue the top facer boards in position and clamp to secure, then attach the sign boards before gluing up the detachable roof. The small pieces of the beacon and the door handles are fixed with superglue.

Make and laminate four Police Call Box signs, not shown, and one for the door and attach with double-sided tape.

Wiring up

The bulb has two connectors. The longer, positive, one is attached to the resistor and the resistor is then wired to the positive battery terminal (red). The negative, shorter, one is attached to the switch and then on to the negative battery terminal (black) to make a circuit.

Push the blue bulb up through the hole into the beacon and secure in place with a small piece of white tack. Position the white bulb and switch into the pre-drilled holes in the cover plate, then carefully push the wiring up into the roof recess.

Secure the cover plate with the four small screws.

Woodworkers Institute

Tagged In:

Fred Byrne , Julie Byrne , Toys , Games , Scrollsaw , Police Box

"Error reading XSLT file: cwsTerminology.xsltcwsTerminology.xslt

"They were displaced in the 1960s by two-way radios at roughly the time that Dr Who made his first appearance in one"


Cutting List

From 6mm plywood
Base, 1 off - 180 x 180mm
Inner floor - 132 x 132mm
Side panels, 4 off - 2 @ 280 x 150mm, 2 @ 280 x 132mm
(Cut all the side panels at 280 x 150mm and then trim 2 of them down by 9mm on both sides after laminating the 3 and 6mm panels together)
Corner mouldings, 8 off - 4 @ 280 x 25mm, 4 @ 280 x 19mm
Sign backboards, 4 of - 130 x 19mm
Roof insert, 1 off - 130 x 130mm
1st roof piece, 1 off - see pattern
2nd roof piece, 1 off - 136 x 136mm
Door handles, 2 off - 30 x 9mm
From 3mm plywood
Side panels, 4 off - 2 @ 280 x 150mm, 2 @ 280mm x 132mm
Facer boards, 8 off - 4 @ 115 x 35mm, 4 @ 115 x 31mm
Inner roof cover plate, 1 off - 90 x 90mm
3rd roof piece (top), 1 off – 112 x 112 x 19mm pine
Top Beacon, 1 off - 20 x 20 x 5mm (lower), 20 x 20 x 2mm (upper), 19 diameter x 2mm (circle)
4 x dowel/cocktail sticks - 17 x 2mm
Tracing paper for beacon - 80 x 17mm (including overlap)
Tracing paper for windows - 8 @ 50 x 40mm
4 x printed police signs - 100 x 10mm
1 x printed police sign - 40 x 30mm
Lighting accessories from Maplin
N24BY - 5mm blue LED bulb
N21BY - 5mm white LED bulb
M200R - min resisters 200R x 2
FH97 - Ultra min toggle switch
HF28 - PP3 clip
L46AL - 9V PP3 battery
BL85 - bell wire
Insulating tape and soldering flex

Where To Buy

Lighting accessories: www.maplin.co.uk
Hinges and woodworking accessories: www.alwayshobbies.com
Table and drum sander accessories: www.gw-werkzeuge.de

Diagrams Click an image to enlarge