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     Home »  General Discussions »  Stewart Builds a Dalek
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    Stewart Builds a Dalek Views: 10691
     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 07:01 AM EDT
    About two months ago I decide to play at being Davros and build a Dalek. This is not as uncommon as you might think and there are two great resources available for people who make a simliar, foolish decision - and the dalek builder's guild (

    I joined John Darley's excellent Project Dalek and got their workshop manual (for a small fee) and the plans for the NSD (New Series Dalek).

    The Forum's at Project Dalek are full of great tips and if you do enough research then Dalek construction is not so bad. Until I started the project my experience with powertools was limited to a cordless drill and a circular saw. Now I have mastered routers, jigsaws, power sanders and have started laying up fiberglass.

    I have been keeping a build diary over on Project Dalek and thought about posting it here, but decided to wait until construction was far enough along that I was definately going to finish it. Now that I have a construction in my garage approaching 5 feet tall that undisputably looks like a Dalek, I think I can say that I've reached that point. So I'll start summarizing my build diary here. Unless no-one is interested.

    The first step is to decide what kind of Dalek to build. It turns out there is a huge number of variants and some are very different in design from others (for instance the imerial and renegade Daleks in "remembrance" are completely different design - dimension-wise - from all other Daleks.

    From me there was no question I want one of the new Daleks. However, these are by far the hardest type of Dalek to build. Luckily, it turns out that the NSD Skirt (the bit with the hemispheres on it) and the basic dome size are identical to those used on the Daleks in "Genesis". Therefore I though I will start with the Skirt and the Dome. If the project is harder than I anticipated my New Series Dalek can morph into a classic Dalek.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 07:32 AM EDT
    May 26th 2008

    Armed with the Dalek Workshop Manual, I head off to Home Depot for supplies.

    Left with a bag of 14 assorted clamps, a new Jigsaw, a 8ft x 4ft piece of 3/4" MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)
    and an 8ft x 4ft piece of hardboard which I hope will be okay for the skirt panels.

    Mark up the MDF for the skirt base and top as per the plans.
    Marking out the Skirt

    BTW that is real sweat on the MDF (it was 91F [~32C] here today in sunny Austin), no tears yet, or blood!

    Started to cut with i) my circular saw ii) New jigsaw. Well I'm glad I started on some scrap material, cause cutting in a straight
    line is harder than you might think, particularly in 3/4" MDF.
    Had to switch
    from the circular saw to the jigsaw, after 2 power cells were complete drained about halfway through. That MDF is tough going. I now have the base cut out at the design size.
    Botom of Skirt Cut Out

    This took a lot longer than I expected (but I'm learning to saw).

    May 31st 2008

    I cut out the top of the skirt at design. Then I removed 3mm from all sides of the top and bottom of the skirt, puting a 15 degree slope on the edges at the same time.

    Then removed the center of the skirt top to cut down on weight (MDF is very heavy).
    Then measured and cut-out front, rear and side supports for skirt out of my 3/4" MDF. Tested that everything fitted together properly (it did, surprisingly).

    This morning started putting everything together - disaster strikes.
    My upright support design involved putting two holes through the top and bottom of the skirt into a strut on MDF. Even though I put pilot holes into the struts they split
    when put the screws onto them and tightened up the join. Re-tried with wider pilot holes but either it split again or the screw stripped out.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 07:46 AM EDT
    June 1st 2008

    Well problem solved with the wonder of internal corner braces.Shame I can't count though. 4 supports X 2 braces x 2 ends = 16 (Not 8 as I calculated at the store). Got to go back for more!!

    June 3rd 2008

    Well skirt frame completed. Everything square I believe (after I realized my garage floor is only level in one directing, so use of the spirit level was highly compromised).
    Started cutting some skirt panels. A stanley knife plus metal edge makes a really good job of cutting the hardboard.

    June 7th 2008

    I started looking at the skirt panels and realised that my Dalek was pretty asymmetric. I think my original trimming skills with the Jigsaw
    leave a bit to be desired.

    However, a quick bit of geometry and line drawing revealed that with four cuts on the top of the skirt and three to the bottom the left-right symmetry could be restored
    The cuts were made and the frame is really very symmetrical (My jigsaw cutting skill are definately improving with practise).
    Now my side panels are about 14mm too short, and the second and third to front panels will be a little long.
    whilst at it, I increased the size of the holes in the skirt top and bottom plus tidied them up.
    Cut the back and side panels panels (1cm oversized and 2.5 cm too tall). Fitted them
    and cut them down to size. Temporarily fixed them with masking tape.
    Cut oversized rear corner panels. Dimensions here very are close to design. Haven't started to fit them yet
    I was in Michael's craft store and saw 100mm Acrylic Balls for $1.79. Bought one for experimentation purposes. Will probably go back for another 30 or so in a week
    or two. These are to be used as the hemispheres (or bumps as my daughter calls them) on the skirt. At the local store they go under the wonderful name of "Crystal Keepsakes" not "Dalek Death Balls". The woman at the till gave me a funny look when I suggested I might like to buy a further 25.

    Some quick experimentation when I got home revealed that even though my side panels are too short there is plenty of room for the two hemis at the top location.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:01 AM EDT
    June 8th 2008

    Made a start on making the dome. This is one of the hardest Dalek parts to make. The common approach is to make a plaster model of the dome (called a plug) then to make a mold from this in Fibreglass. The final dome is made by laying up more fibreglass in the mold. Currently, I am just going to try and make the plug.

    The base and former for the plug were made. 3/4" MDF for the base, with 1/2" wooden dowel at the centre. Although my former is double sided only one side actually has the shape on it other side is just support to make sure its level. Quite a lot of adjustment was required
    to ensure the dome diameter was going to be correct.
    I put an old light fitting in the center in the centre to start the plug (this was mistake number 1). It was way too small the amount of bulking up required is huge (though I haven't realised that yet Angry ).

    Start building up the dome shape with Plaster of Paris (POP) and MDF off-cuts.
    a href="Ąt=DSC01473.jpg" target="_blank">Photobucket
    Don't let the picture fool you, my son "helped" with the Dalek for over 30 seconds before claiming he was being bitten by mosquitoes and return to the safe cacoon of the house and his Wii.
    Finish the 25lb bag of POP and I have a small section which actually follows the shape of the former (yeah, it'll work but It's going to take time). Off to Lowes for another 25lb bag of POP (I suspect
    I'm going to need more than that).
    By the time I finish on Sunday night plug looks looks like this (hooray)
    Unfortunately other side still looks like this
    However, I know that with patience this side will look the same, then I can use more dilute material and perhaps artex to get it nice and smooth. The very fast drying time here is really hampering progress
    but making more dilute just means you can't use it immediately, once it gets to the correct consistancy, it sets just as quickly.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:01 AM EDT
    That's a wicked idea. Brilliant.

    I could never do something like that though; you could give me the tools, materials, idiot guide instructions and as long as you like, but I just couldnt do it. I'm just not DIY/building/making stuff inclined.

    I'd absolutely love a proper sized Dalek. I thought about buying one of the quarter(ish) sized Character ones, but I've just not got the money or the space for everything I want.

    I'd make space for something like that however.

    I remember the Droids Owners/Builders club at last years Celebration Europe. That was good. Similarly, If it wasn't for the fact they're so disgustingly priced, I'd get one of the Artoo bins (but not for ú250).

    Nothing dies of old age on Skaro!
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:02 AM EDT
    Holy Cow!! Eek! This is fantastic. I'm impressed you are taking on this challenge and making such progress.

    As for Michaels, how do they know you don't have a lot of memories you need to keep in those crystal keepers! Laughing Out Loud

    I want to ask my dad to make me one. He's pretty handy.
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:11 AM EDT
    [Quote  by:  LanaiaD]

    I want to ask my dad to make me one. He's pretty handy.

    I had one of those (sadly no longer with us).

    On my last post I mentioned how crap I am at anything like this, yet there was seemingly nothing my dad couldnt build or mend (within reason obviously - one of his favourite stories to tell people was how I asked him to make me a real working Lightsaber the night I first saw Star Wars).

    Nothing dies of old age on Skaro!
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:17 AM EDT
    June 21st 2008

    So this week it was on with the skirt, the remaining panels were cut and attached following Project Dalek advice of working from Stern to Bow.
    At the second to front panels I could feel a slight twist happening, but as forwarned an extreme twist was present on the front panels. Here it can be clearly
    seen on the front right panel, before the front left was added.
    Here is the skirt with all panels added with liquid nails (and solid panel nails too). Front four panels awaiting top trimming.
    So went down to Autozone for fiberglass (that fibreglass for those in the UK) and bodyfiller supplies. to glass up the joints internally and fill them externally.
    Glassed up the internal joints. First time using fiberglass and the learning curve was steep. The tempaerature has been over 100F everyday for the last week
    so I added little less hardner than recommended, but it still went off really quickly. The hardning reaction seems pretty exothermic, the material that went off
    got really hot, really quickly.
    My first joint was a mess, but they quickly got better. Here's the internal view. Still got to finish the upper and lower joints of the panel to the skirt frame, but I'm a bit fed up of the fumes and the fibers so I'll leave it for a while.
    It's going to need a little tidying up but the whole skirt is extremely solid now and doesn't look too bad on the outside.
    started by filling the nail holes with conventional wood filler and moved onto the skirt seams with auto body filler. Just done the 4 back joins so far. This is enough to let me know
    that I'm not doing any more until I go buy an electric sander! Here's an image of the skirt so far along side the most important tool a Dalek builder (aka a Dust Storm) can own: "A Big Shop Vac".

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:22 AM EDT
    July 10th 2008

    Progress is slow. All skirt joints have been filled then sanded, then some more filling and sanding. Then two coats of primer then more sanding.

    Progress was hampered by i) Buying a cheap sander which immediately broke and had to be replaced
    ii) not reading that first primer layers should be brushed on and not sprayed.

    Here the progress to first sanding after initial primer

    This photo was taken after the skirt passed the "will it get through the front door" test. It did and should make it even with hemi's on.
    The Fender (once built) will not make it when attached and the skirt won't make it through the garage to house door unless the hemi's are off.

    Haven't checked whether it will make it up the stairs and into the games room, which is to be it permanent home when finished.

    Anyway, next level of filler has been applied. Will sand tomorrow and apply next layer of primer, then more sanding I guess.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:25 AM EDT
    July 13th 2008

    After next round of priming, I was really unhappy with the righthand side second to front panel.
    Due to the fact that I probably hadn't cut the bevel on the skirt top and base quite this skirt facet
    never sat well with the two adjacent panels (i.e. gaps due to different curvature) and lots of filler
    had been required, thus (due to my inexperience with filler) it was kind of messy.
    A flat center with two uneven and irregular filled edges. With the primer on and the light catching
    it properly, it just looks awful. So I decided to fill the entire panel section with Bondo and flatten it.

    Seems to have worked pretty well, looks much better now with the primer on, however at least one more
    round of priming and sanding will be required (though maybe not for the entire skirt).

    Bought some fender and shoulders materials and a few cans of spray paint to test colours.

    I tried Hammerite "Hammered Gold" for the hemis, slats etc.
    Then I got Hammerite "Hammered copper" and "oil rubbed Bronze" from hammerite's American Accent
    Metallic range to try for the main body colour.
    Here are my tests, hemis were primed in white first, the hardboard was primed in grey.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:30 AM EDT
    July 15th 2008
    A friend has lent me a router on "longish" term loan, principally for circle cutting. I have never used a router before so this should be interesting.

    Spent last night marking out the fender top on 1/2" MDF whilst watching "the Web Planet". I was alittle concerned that
    my skirt would look a little strange centred on it since as previously documented not all the panels are exactly the correct length.
    However, when I put it on top everything looked fine, nice and symmetrical with no odd looking spaces.

    This evening I decided to try routing my first circle (the top of the shoulders). Not having ever used a router before I was a
    bit apprehensive about this, but decided to press on anyway. My simple homemade jig seemed to work okay. Here it is after cutting
    the outer edge, then the inner edge.
    The whole thing was somewhat easier than I had anticipated and the ring OD is less than 2mm off my target. Although there was a lot
    of MDF dust, there was much less than I expected and the dust mask and goggles felt like overkill. That being said there was absolutely
    no wind or breeze so the dust stayed where it fell.

    I was going to cut out the fender base today however since it was 97 degrees F, I decided to give the fender cutting a pass and be content with
    just cutting my first ring. I will probably try to do the neck rings at the weekend, just to be done with them.

    Anyway, here is the nearest thing to a stack I can manage. Skirt on panel marked up for fender. shoulders top ring on skirt. 50lb + dome plug
    in the back ground. (Bottom of shoulders is still in middle of fender top (I hope the piece I need to cut out will be big enough).
    Well, it feels like progress to me.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:35 AM EDT
    July 21st 2008

    I mainly spent this weekend working on the fender. Cut out the top removing clading thickness and angling the edge. Then cut out the side formers and attached them.
    Next cut out the angled panels and attached with copious amount of grip adhesive.
    My Fender cladding is just hardboard for numerous reasons.
    i) I do not expect to do much trundling in public - hey this is Austin (what is Doctor Who? is the standard question)
    ii) I intend to reinforce it with lots of fibreglass - this did wonders for my skirt strength.
    iii) My Dalek is going to be really heavy if I don't start taking weight reducing measures.
    iv) I read Alansdalek comments about materials being stronger than you think
    v) It was cheap

    Anyway need to put on the vertical sections next then GRP and fill. Having built the skirt first, sure speeded up doing the fender.
    cutting the top and the panels seemed like child's play now that I've had some experience. A lot less filler is going to be required.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:37 AM EDT
    22nd July 2008

    Finished putting on the fender panels this evening. I hope that powergrip stuff is good!
    I'll let it dry for at least 24 hours then apply GRP to the inside either tomorrow evening, or Thursday.

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 08:42 AM EDT
    More progress tonight. The powergrip had cured by this evening, so I turned the fender over to take a look.


    Needs some filler but on the whole not too bad. Turned it back over and Fibreglassed the joints


    Then measured up and cut out the base for the shoulders


    On the whole not to shabby for an evenings work considering I didn't get home until 7pm and its only 9.10pm now

    In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are Kings
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     Friday, August 01 2008 @ 10:13 AM EDT
    Hey maybe you should do a panel at Glalifrey this year with a slide presentation on building a Dalek! You couldn't bring it in person but you could share the photos and your experience.
      Profile    PM    Email   

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