Thrifty Thursday: Sonic Screwdriver

As seen on Buzz Feed! So excited that they picked up my project for one of their amusing lists. If you’re stopping by from there, welcome! 😀

As promised, for this Thrifty Thursday, I’m featuring the 10th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver prop that I brought to Metrocon. Sometimes, you have random things you can readily recycle into a craft item (see my post on bottlecap charms) and you just need a little creative push to figure out what to turn them into. In this case, I had the sonic screwdriver prop in mind, and I wanted to see if I could make a convincing one out of random things I had at my house. It turns out that all you really need to get a good base for this sonic screwdriver is a five to six-inch tube-like object and a lot of different pens and highlighters that you are willing to part with. Below you will find a handy annotated photo of all the bits and bobs incorporated into my prop. (Click to enlarge if you can’t read the numbers)

10th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, pre-paint job

Let’s start with #1. This is a blue charm that I bought from Michael’s ages ago to make a keyblade based on one of Aqua’s from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. (Maybe I’ll talk about that in a post soon…) Not everyone would have one of these lying around, but if you happen to have one of those little blue glass craft stones, that would work, tool. A rounded button from an old jacket could probably be painted up to make a nice blue tip as well.

Ten’s sonic has little silver prong-ish bits below the blue light, and that’s where #2 came in. I had some old markers with small clips, and I broke the clips off of four of them to use here. I never clipped them to anything anyway, and I can still use the markers.

The piece holding the blue charm (#3) is a chunk of yellow highlighter. I did render one highlighter completely useless for this project. I used a pair of pliers to remove the marker from the inside of the highlighter and cut it into pieces that looked about the right size with a hobby saw.

#4 is a toothpaste cap. I had just bought a new tube of toothpaste and had yet to toss the empty one.

The two wooden bits in #5 are wooden beads that seemed to be the right shape for the job.

I think section #6 is one of the parts of this prop that I’m proud of the most. Let’s get a closer look.

The clear part of this section is the lid from a random pen that I’m pretty sure I got for free at the career fair a few years ago. The metal rod on the inside is actually a part from an old DVD player. Have I mentioned that I’m an electrical engineering major? I think one of the requirements for this degree is a love for taking things apart. So, when electronics don’t work anymore, my friends and I dismantle them and recycle the parts. I take the stranger bits with no obvious use for crafting. The spring glued to the DVD player shaft came from another old pen.

Piece #7 is a wheel from an Easter egg racer. I have four of these little “cars” you can put eggs in to drive them around…meaning I have 16 of these random little round pieces that I wasn’t sure how to use for anything else. They were the perfect shape for my prop, though.

The pink part and the tube it’s sitting on (#8) are the cap and case for some glass beads. I had a free space in my bead box, so I dumped the beads out of the tube and had a perfect sized grip section for the screwdriver.

The two pieces marked as #9 were the button and eraser slider from a lead pencil that I never used anymore. I cut a section of the bead tube away with my hobby saw, leaving a hole big enough for the sliding part of the eraser case to be touched from the outside. The slider doesn’t really adjust anything, but it is fun to play with.

That just leaves the end. The cap on the dismantled highlighter seemed almost perfect, but not quite enough to match the real thing. So I used the cap and a bit more of the highlighter (#10) and added the end of another old pen (#11) for the rounded look I wanted.

After using a lot of glue to keep these parts together, I roughed up the outside with a bit of sandpaper and applied several coats of acrylic paint. The waiting was unbearable on this one; acrylic paint seems to take longer to dry on plastic than anything else, so the time between coats was longer. When the final coat dried, I sprayed the sonic screwdriver with the same finish I use on my clay charms. Here’s the finished product:

Completed sonic screwdriver!

For reference, here’s the replica of the 10th’s sonic that ThinkGeek sells. Theirs lights up and makes sounds, but otherwise, I think mine came out pretty close. Of course, it won’t end here. I’m planning to try to make one that at least lights up, but perhaps I can manage to do a little microcontroller magic and make one that has sound as well. Stay tuned!

18 thoughts on “Thrifty Thursday: Sonic Screwdriver”

    1. Thanks! Glad you liked it. If I ever make a sonic screwdriver mark two (I really want to do one that lights up and such!), I’ll keep the crackle paint in mind. Hadn’t thought of that before!

  1. The create your own sonic set they sell has the light and sound effects in a kind of stick that slides in the middle, you could try using that as the base for a working sonic

  2. This is great! I was looking all over the place for a good tutorial on how to make a sonic screwdriver, and the things I came up with were either too complicated or too basic and looked terrible. This is the most simple, and good looking 10th sonic screwdriver yet. Thanks for showing how you did it! For the one I am building, I am using the ink shaft and spring from the inside of a pen instead of a DVD player part, haha, even though I too love taking things apart.

  3. I did one and it didn’t turn out as well as yours, but I did make one and I didn’t get mad and throw it at something, so that’s a plus.

    1. Glad to hear you made one! I know the feeling of wanting to just fling a craft at something when it’s not coming out right, so I’m also glad you didn’t throw yours. Hope you had fun with the project! :)

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