The 9th and 10th Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver (Updated).

You can pretty much call this a complete reworking of a previous article from my old website as having recently looked back at the original version, I realised just how vague it was.  So here we are with a thoroughly updated and hopefully more interesting (and insightful) piece.

It’s fairly common knowledge that through work, I found myself with access to the 9th Doctor version of the new series Sonic Screwdriver back in 2005 and that on the sly, I took a few measurements from it… well, I just had to, didn’t I?  You’d have done the same if you were interested in props and were in the same boat as me, come on now, admit it.  What you won’t know is that I also had a brush with this particular prop the previous year, before it was even made. 

The company that I was working with at the time (I was there designing a range of high-end Classic Doctor Who models) were also bidding to make some of the new show’s props, including the Daleks and the Sonic Screwdriver, while independently I was working towards getting the TARDIS exterior prop commission, but that’s another story.  So anyway, because of where I was, I was privy to all the concept drawings, as well as a set of rudimentary schematics for this new fangled Sonic Screwdriver and I got to keep copies of all these drawings for reference – they would later come in rather handy.


After I’d gotten to measure the original, I created a rounded up and sanitised set of numbers from the measurements that I’d taken off of the hero prop and with that, I applied these to the BBC’s rudimentary schematics that had previously come into my possession.  The plan was that one day, I’d use these to create my own replica.  As it happened, I didn’t get very far with it due to the high cost of this project and so it died completely on its arse… but people knew about it because I’d spoken openly about my little personal project and had even shown some of the work in progress pictures.

Naturally, because all this sort of thing was new and exciting, I was inundated with requests from various quarters of fandom for either copies of my measurements or in some cases, folk tried to commission me to make them a complete replica.  The latter I always turned down, but I was fairly free to the idea of handing out copies of the rudimentary schematics that I had and I did so rather a lot, but on the proviso that people kept the copies to themselves and didn’t start churning out replicas for sale on eBay.  A few people even approached me (on different occasions) to help out on limited fan “Group Runs” of replicas for members of the old Outpost Gallifrey board and to begin with, I was reluctant, but as time passed, I gave in.  Each time I handed out the plans to the different groups that had got in touch with me, it was all fine to start with, then these projects would come to a screaming halt, just as my own personal project had done so previously – probably because of the exorbitant cost to get something like this up and running.  It was also coincidentally around this time that I was starting to get fed up with the whole idea of ever obtaining a replica for myself and I was certainly tiring of the continued requests for help, so I began to back away from the whole notion and respectfully declined to provide information when asked.  Besides, really I was aware that perhaps I shouldn’t be handing this stuff out as technically it wasn’t my place to do so, especially with the BBC being so aggressively secretive and protective over the programme and its properties.

The requests for help soon died down when Character Options released their plastic role play toy version of the prop, to tie in with their range of figures from the new series.  It was great and folk were happy, even more so when the rumour began to circulate that from David Tennant’s first episode as the Doctor, the BBC had started to use the toy as the hero prop in the series.  This was, frankly, utter bollocks, but there was an element of truth in there somewhere that had somehow gotten mangled through idle and ill-informed chatter across the web.  It didn’t happen to help matters when the BBC’s own Doctor Who website confused the issue further with one of their features on Character Options and the toy range.  What actually happened was this, and I did try to explain it at the time, though few listened.  Not that they should have listened – that’s up to them – and it certainly didn’t bother me slightest…

Two things happened at pretty much the same time.  Firstly, the BBCi website, as it was called then, ran a feature about Character Options and their dedication to accuracy with the range they had created and in this, they touched upon the role play Sonic, comparing the toy next to the “original” in a photograph that you can see below.  The thing was, the “original” was actually CO’s resin prototype Sonic Screwdriver that was in deed closer to the actual prop than the final release of their toy.  For production reasons, the toy had to be made slightly over sized in some places to allow for the internal electronics, as well as the pen feature that it had.  So ultimately, both Sonics in the image were from CO.

The second thing to happen was that with the success of the revamped show, the BBC decided to create a new exhibition dedicated to this era specifically and it was to be housed at Brighton Pier, which can be found on the south coast of the UK.  The problem was that by the time it was to open, BBC Wales would be in the midst of making series two, so therefore, certain new props wouldn’t be available for display – the Sonic Screwdriver being one of them.  However, this being such a key feature of the programme, it would be rather conspicuous by its absence and something had to be done to circumvent this.  The answer was to use one of the Character Options resin prototypes in the original’s place.  As misfortune would have it, this resin Sonic didn’t last at the exhibition for long as one day, a visitor to the site decided that it would be for the best to rip it from the wall (complete with the display case) and take it home with them.  It’s just as well then that it was effectively only a replica as it would have been terrible for yet another original Screwdriver prop to go walkabouts without leave.  Anyway, here’s some pictures for you to compare.

Having said all the above, as time went on, the CO toy Sonic did end up being used in the programme in various guises for various reasons.  Each time it appeared though, it was only seen briefly as a stunt prop to stand in for the far more valuable original.  Sometimes it was an actual bought off the shelf toy that had been modified and other times, it was a resin casting of the toy.  Most, if not all, were broken on set.  They were never used in close up or for any sustained period, but when you did see them, it would usually be in a sequence where the Sonic was to be dropped or thrown.  The last time this version of the screwdriver was seen on screen, was where (as part of the storyline) it gets destroyed while the newly regenerated 11th Doctor is holding it aloft during an action scene in his first full episode.  What you see him holding is in deed a modified, off the shelf, store bought toy – but only when it meets its demise in a shower of sparks and flames – all other shots around this sequence are of the metal hero prop.  Being shot in HD, the difference between the two props is painfully obvious, less so in SD, but still quite apparent.

Let’s go back in time now.  Towards the end of the summer in 2006, I was approached by a company to work on a fully licensed reproduction of this style of Sonic and going by what I was commissioned to do, it was to be a highly detailed, screen accurate metal replica, aimed squarely at the high-end collector’s market.  When I wrote this originally on my old website, I didn’t name the company involved as the license was still active, yet they hadn’t made any announcement about its arrival or made a decision on how they were to take the project forward, but anyway, enough time has passed, so I can tell you.  It was for The Stamp Centre of London, otherwise known as Sci-Fi Collector.

As I mentioned, I was commissioned to tackle this project in the September of 2006 and the project was required for delivery quite urgently.  The only problem was that at the time, I was just about to leave the country for a couple of weeks which meant that I had to scramble like crazy to complete the work and send it off before I left.  My task was to draw up a full set of engineering schematics as well as make a rough mock-up of the final piece to show to BBC Licensing.  At the time, I was staggered by the reaction of my client when I told them the fee I’d be charging, they nearly snapped my arm off in eagerness as a result.  I should have guessed that something was up – I later found out that they were expecting to pay the standard industry rate which was ten times the amount that I’d agreed to.  Darn it!  Oh well, you live and learn.

Creating the schematics was to be the (slightly) easier part of the job, but with the short deadline, creating the mock-up from scratch was obviously going to be impossible to achieve and so it was agreed that I’d use the Character Options toy as the basis for speed.  To that end, I had to use three of them to make the single piece as required.

Above is the crude mock-up that I “built” in the space of a day.  When making this, it quickly became obvious to me that CO had not had access to the original prop because even if we take into account that it was made slightly longer to accommodate the required internals, it had details that were more in common with the BBC’s rudimentary schematics than the screen used hero prop – again this was a bit of a regular occurrence at the time as initially, CO were having troubles gaining access to things for reference.  Thankfully this was only a passing phase on the BBC’s part.

Back to the idiosyncracies of the CO toy.  It had certain extra details as illustrated in those schematics that never made it to the final prop, plus it was also lacking other details that were also on the prop, but not the schematics.  Anyway, using three of the toys, I managed to adjust it to the point that it was a fairly good reflection of what it was meant to be.  All we needed now was the final approval from BBC Worldwide, so I went off to the States and thought nothing more about it.

Several weeks after I’d returned to the UK, I was finally told by Sci-Fi Collector what the deal was; the BBC weren’t happy with what we were going to produce because it was “too accurate.”  Eh?  Surely that’s exactly what they’d want!

It wasn’t until a very long time after the event that I discovered what they’d actually meant by all this “too accurate” business.  They didn’t like the fact that we were going to include the wide open slot with the tactile micro switch that operates the LED light and serves as the function by which you open and close the prop.  Apparently, the BBC Art Department said that this was not meant to be a part of the prop that is obvious, despite the fact that you can see it as clear as day in virtually every scene that you see this prop in.  It also explains why the hero version was later rebuilt to improve on this function and make it more discreet, but the Art Department were still insistent that the slider was not meant to be seen and that in the context of the Doctor Who universe, there was no slider on his Sonic – it was only there on the prop as a technicality.  It also makes it abundantly clear to me now why in a lot of the promotional images where you see the Doctor holding his Sonic, that he’s always holding it in the most awkward of manners – to hide the “ugly” slider control.  Ahhh, I see.  Anyway, this licensed replica never happened, but I wasn’t too bothered if I’m honest as I’d been paid, even if it was peanuts.

It all went quiet on the Sonic front for maybe a year or two when one day, quite out of the blue, an internet friend of mine approached me with a proposal; that if I provide him with the full schematics that I took from the prop, his mate would make three of them, one for me, one for my mate and one for himself.  I was fine with the idea in principle until I found out who my mate’s mate was.  I realised that I also knew this chap and not only that, but I also knew who this guy was currently working for. 

It then dawned on me, I was about to be wheedled out of a professional fee.  Cheeky buggers.  I’ve been had in this fashion a few times before and by now had gotten wise to this type of ploy and I certainly wasn’t going to fall for it again.  Now I’m not going to name names as it’s pointless, all in the distant past now – and quite frankly, I honestly don’t really give a flying fig enough to care about it all anyway.  The way that I see it though, is that if a company wants to make something professionally, don’t use my friends to get to my stuff without having to pay me for the pleasure, come to me directly and we can talk business, it’s only fair and not underhanded!  I’m fairly certain that this caused an amount of bad blood, but I can live with it as it’s no loss to me.

Again the Sonic became a distant memory and then around the Christmas of 2009 (I think) I received an email from another friend, apparently some company was trying to get in touch with me about creating a new line of fully licensed Doctor Who replicas.  I spoke to the guy in question and what he told me, I wasn’t too keen on as I thought that he was barking up the wrong tree and told him so, which I think annoyed him a little – but I had to be honest and realistic with him.  Actually, I sort of half mentioned this conversation in the early days of this very blog.  Anyway, we discussed other options and various ideas that I had and he said he’d go away and think about it and discuss it with his employers.  I really didn’t ever expect to hear from him again, but I did a few months later.

We were back to the bloody Sonic Screwdriver again, this time it was the 10th Doctor’s version as a 1:1 scale replica for the high-end collector’s market, now where had I heard all this before?  I had to tell him that all the information that I had related to the 9th Doctor’s prop which was slightly different to the 10th Doctor’s, not by much, but anything I’d contribute to the project would have to be adapted and researched further to take things forward.  The thing was, by this point, I was so sick and tired of the damned thing that I really wasn’t up for, and certainly couldn’t face, creating yet another new set of schematics, so we agreed that I’d be a consultant in a one off meeting to exchange data and make the changes to what I had that were pertinent to the 10th Doctor’s Sonic.  We agreed a fee for a four hour consultation.  What the hell was I about to let myself in for?!

I should have known better.  The consultation meeting went on for about 6 hours and not only that, I was constantly being called up multiple times a day over several months, asked to look at stuff, make changes, do calculations, do further research and it was certainly looking like I was going to be doing all the work that I said I wouldn’t be doing.  To make matters worse, I wasn’t going to receive any further payments for all this extra work that I was doing and I certainly wasn’t going to be credited for any of this either – which I was fine about, what I wasn’t fine about was someone else taking the credit for it.  My wife was getting quite annoyed by all this fuss too, as was I and so too were the engineering firm that I’d introduced matey to, to actually fabricate the prototypes.

As time went on, access was gained to the actual BBC prop (as well as the current version), moulds were taken for reference by our chum and he was changing the schematics on what seemed like a weekly basis.  Things came to a head when the engineering firm called me out of sheer frustration one day because the plans provided just did not make any sense, nothing added up correctly or calculated out right at all.  It was a complete and total mess and didn’t even look right when compared to the massively high resolution photographs that we had!

The plans were binned and we started from scratch, using my old notes combined with our own measurements taken from the reference casts.  Effectively, what we produced was wholly our own work and nothing to do with matey, even down to re-engineering the internals to make them nicer and more robust than the original’s.  Just as the deadline was coming up, I had to go away for a few weeks and from what I understand, the relationship between the engineering firm and chummy had more or less broken down, the job was completed and handed over.  It’s just as well then that I’d refused to work on the 11th Doctor’s Sonic then.  When I returned from my travels with the family, I officially left the project and what do I have to show for all that work?  Effectively nothing, apart from this:

This is an unfinished prototype with an initial paint test on the main handle.  Now this may look as rough as old boots to you, but it may surprise you to know that the filming prop is not as nice as you’d think it should be in close up.  The crackle glaze is very lumpy and looks like dried, white mud and nothing like the porcelain that it’s meant to be.  This particular test has different levels of crud on it and we were going to choose which area was the closest to the original.  Because of the relationship breakdown however, it never progressed further than this and chummy went off with his two prototypes and painted them up himself. 

While the prototypes were great (and in all honesty they were the most accurate replica ever produced of its kind), there were a couple of small mistakes that we noticed after they’d been taken away, but there was nothing that we could do about it now – and besides, it was no longer our problem anyway.

I hope that from reading all this that you don’t think that I have any ill feelings or am bitter towards our chum or the company that he used to work for, really I’m not.  Again I just don’t care enough to give a damn.  I haven’t heard anything about the project in nearly a year, so what’s happened to it or where it’s going these days, if anywhere, is a complete mystery to me.

And there you have it, five years worth of Sonic Screwdriver commissions, near misses, almost props and fan requests for help.  How do I feel about it all now?  Well, it’s been quite a ride, but I hope that I never have to go through all this again.  I’m more interested in the 11th Doctor sonic, to me it just looks far more funky and with luck, someone, somewhere will come up with a decent replica to bring to market – good luck to them though, I counted over 45 parts in that one alone.  Whoever ends up with that assembly job has my deepest of sympathies!

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~ by PurpleBlancmange on June 15, 2011.

64 Responses to “The 9th and 10th Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver (Updated).”

  1. Interesting and informative. I have to say that all the back and forth stuff would have driven me mad!!

    • Tell me about it. The last Sonic project caused many arguments at home and really did my head in. This was the first time where I’ve ever walked away from a commission before its completion, but when you know you’re onto a bad thing that clearly goes against everything you stand for in a work situation, it’s always best to call it a day.

  2. I am working on a replica of the 9th Doctors Sonic Screwdriver (not for production, just a hobby model scratch build) and would like to bounce a few questions off of you if you have time. I am using mostly screen captures for reference. My plans are about done but I wanted to confirm my overall scaling is close. Any help would be great.

    • So long as your scaling ensures that the widest diameter of the main handle / shaft is 19mm (3/4″) you should be alright. When closed up, it ought be 150mm (6″) in length, though to be honest, this was variable depending on how far the head lens was pushed in (or out of) the top section. Hope that’s of some help, even if it’s only a little bit.

      Best of luck with your project!

  3. It looks like I am close :)

    18.8722mm width
    149.6314mm Length

    I did not round anything so far, I scaled it from the rear screw and the switch. One other question, the amount of the tactile switch that is sticking out of the body (about half of it at least in the screen caps I have) seems like it must be sitting on some kind of little riser part on the slide. When I machine a flat in the slide for the switch to sit on it is not sticking out far enough. Was there something like that on there that the switch was sitting on (I am trying to get it as close to the original setup as possible)?

    Thanks for posting the size info, I may actually be able to start machining this thing this weekend (I have been tweaking the plans for weeks and can’t wait to get to work, from your post it looks like you know the feeling).

    • Ooh, we’re going back a long time, but if I recall correctly, it seemed that the tactile switch was just sitting on the inner rod which had a diameter of just shy of (whatever) the inside diameter of the external handle was – don’t ask, I can’t remember that number off hand. There were a couple of notch outs for the wire contacts to sit in, so it was only really the plastic part of the switch that sat “on top of” the internal rod.

      I hope that this all makes sense. Try as I may, but concentrating to write this reply with two kids arsing around in the background is somewhat of an uphill struggle.

  4. Hmmm, I think I understand what you are talking about. How does the switch not short out? Is the entire slide on that one plastic? I had assumed the back part of it that contacts the inside of the handle when it slides was metal (brass, I can see what looks like brass in front of the switch in one of my reference photos but have wondered if it is the front of a battery and not the slide itself).

    I may be thinking about the inside slide part wrong.

    “I hope that this all makes sense. Try as I may, but concentrating to write this reply with two kids arsing around in the background is somewhat of an uphill struggle.”

    I have four so I know where you coming from :)

    • Again, going from memory here (we’re talking nearly 6 years ago now) but I have a feeling that the inner tube had either black insulation tape over it or shrink wrap. I didn’t really get the chance to have a detailed look at the inner workings as I was mainly concentrating on the outside of the piece. It’s possible that the switch was sitting on a plastic block, but if it was, that was covered over by the black material… so I have no real idea, but I could guess – which I have.

      Four kids? Now that’s dedication. Either that or you’re Catholic. :)

  5. Now that is interesting!!!
    Is it possible that the slide was machined out of black DELRIN. That would explain a few design problems that I have been having with the inside of of the sonic. I realize it was a few years back I I am very grateful for the time you are taking to answer some questions. From what you have told me so far I think I may have made a few assumptions on how it was made that might no be correct.

    • It is possible that the part could have been Delrin, but I got the distinct impression that the black was added to the piece, rather that *being* the piece. I’m fairly certain that the black end cap was Delrin though – when we did one of the replicas, we used that material there for that section.

  6. Is it possible you could shoot me an email. I am trying to envision what the wrap looked like and would like to email you a sketch if you have time.

    • If you look at the four images above of the Stamp Centre mock up made from the CO toys, that’s what the black tape or shrink wrap looked like. It was simply black material wrapped over the inner sliding tube with a tactile switch stuck on top.

      If you want to show me your sketch, you can just upload it into the reply box if you have an image hosting site that you use – just include the url, but not the actual image.

  7. Hey, erm… i bet this post is long since dead, but i’m really trying to make a sonic screwdriver, and i like Tennant’s overall style, but i thoroughly enjoy the claw bit on Smith’s… just looking for a bit of advice and some help in the overall design. pm me or email me… dunno if you can…

    • Ooh, sorry that I missed this, been out in the sticks for a while.

      If you require advice, I can try to help you out as best I can. Just ask away here and we’ll take it forward from there. Sounds like you have a fun project in mind.

  8. Thank you very much for this article and sharing your experiences with the prop. I’ve been a fan of the sonic screwdriver since my first episode of Doctor Who back in the very early 1980’s.

  9. hay gues what you can get the 11th doctor sonic screwdriver prop in metal lethar brase copper and 148 pieses each of them

    • I know, for £2700. It’s a lot of money for a flashlight. When I counted up the parts for it, I wasn’t including the innards, springs or the screws. By the way, the handle grip is actually made of lathed foam, covered in lamb’s skin leather.

  10. i have alot of trantrums when i try modding a sonic or when i ask my dad for the prop and he sais forget about it i just want to stab him sometimes

    • That’s a terrible thing to say. You can’t always get what you want, no matter how much you desire something. I’d rather have my Dad than a pointless, expensive screwdriver.

  11. sometimes bits of it brake and some parts just wont go your way

  12. i know what your going to say but its $4000 in australia its blody shit but i mean its the same as the prop and you know how that goes i think nick just wants more money by the sounds of things , but iv already signed up for and i dont have jack shit

    • It’s a lot of money here too. I doubt that Nick is being greedy, these things are extremely fiddly and vastly timing consuming to make. I’d be more concerned with QMx taking a huge cut of the cash, they’re nothing more than middle men, allowing Nick to piggy back their license while they procrastinate with their own replica… which will probably never come out any way.

  13. this stuff is just driving me made about the prices of things i mean have a look at that sonic its cool but not for $4000, thats just to far. dont you think

  14. do you live in britten

  15. i wouldent get it eny way because it would brake so easly i mean its maid of like 148 pices of shit and an led

  16. i hope nick robatto dident sign up on this website

  17. im so not fuckin spaming

    • Less of the language and the attitude, if you don’t mind. I’ve simply asked you to place your comments into one reply, rather than several which I then have to approve individually… which by definition is spamming.

  18. well he did join

  19. Very interesting article! You talked in the beginning about having schematics for the 9th/10th screwdriver, I’m wondering if by schematics you meant 3D autoCAD blueprints or just 2D drawings?

    I’m currently working in a university shop/lab with a lot of capability, and I’m trying to draw the sonic screwdriver in CAD and have the machines fully mill it out of four pieces. The most difficult measurements at present are the champers and angles of the head and its interlocking teeth – if they’re off by much the whole piece looks absolutely ridiculous.

    • Well, thank you very much. Glad you liked the piece.

      If you’re asking me for the CAD models, there’s two answers to this and you probably wouldn’t like either, I’m sorry to say:

      1/ There are CAD models, but I don’t have them as I don’t own a computer that is cabable of running them – my machine falls over even if I try to open an email with attachments. The engineering firm still have the files as a result.

      2/ Because these files were created for a client, there’s no way that I would be allowed to pass them on. Think of it as if I’d designed an engine for BMW, they would not be best pleased if I then handed their drawings out to third parties… a law suit could ensue.

      Sorry to be a bit of a stick in the mud over this, but that’s how business works I’m afraid.

      Good luck with your progress, I’m sure that with a bit of work, you will make it just fantastic. :)

  20. lets just talk about the 11th sonic i dont mind if i dont get one in about 10 years they will be on ebay / i hope for about $450/$500

    • Yes, I’m happy to talk about the 11th Doctor sonic, though you may be better served to take part in the chat on this topic within the posting on Nick Robatto’s sonic, “Look, but don’t touch… or can’t have” is the entry that you’ll need to visit.

      While on the topic, I doubt any of his Sonics will appear on eBay for that kind of price, though there are two companies that are claiming that they’ll produce a low cost version. Perhaps you should try your luck with them, they are QMx and CT. Good luck! :)

  21. i know how you fell about that 11th prop i read it i fell for you but the price only true doctor who fans with the money would get it but i think we all want it, im with ya mate

  22. hay i found i website were you can buy the parts for the 9th and 10th doctor sonic screwdriver and 11th

  23. Say…that quick 1 day prototype sonic you made looks the bees knees.
    Any slight chance you could show a tutorial on how to make a replica using 3 character options sonics?
    ’cause that would actually be the coolest thing since bowties and fezs came In the same pack for £10 at a costume shop in Dublin.

    • Well, I’m glad that you liked it, though I always felt that it was a bit rough. That said, if you were to take a bit more time and care, you could do a much better job.

      It was a long time ago now when I made it, so I’ll try my best to list what I did, though you could probably work it out yourself with one of the toys in front of you…

      As I recall, I chopped about 1cm off of the top of the main body to get it to the correct length, then opened out the wide slider to accomodate the button. I did this with a modeller’s knife. From here, I reattached the silver crown to the top of the body. For the black bulb end, I took that off, complete with the nib and the silver section that was left behind on the body was also chopped off.

      I replaced that with another of the nib ends, which I cut down to fit and put that back on, back-to-front, at the base of the main body. I then just glued the rest of the black bulb and silver nib back into place. Having done all this, you’ll need to shorten the battery compartment – you don’t need three seperate chambers for each of the cells, just have them all stacked and it’ll save you more room.

      It was then a case of filling gaps and seams, then a spot of painting. As I said, take more time and you could do a much better job than I did.

      Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the process as I was too busy making the thing and I cannot recreate the piece as I don’t have any of the toys to hack up, but if you take the project on, feel free to ask questions if you get stuck.

      Hope some of this helps you out.

      Failing all that, you could always commission me to make one for you. I kid.

      • That’s cool, but if you go into depth as this is pretty vague. The sonic in the pic above is excellent, and I have 3 eccleston CO sonics in front of me, 29 others in case of mistakes. If you could do accurate measurements and tools needed, that would be ****ing beautiful.

      • Sorry that it’s a bit vague for your needs, but I pretty much made the prototype up as I went along… the conversion job was fairly self governing, I just looked at what was wrong and changed it – well most of what I could, given the short time frame.

        As I don’t own the prototype and haven’t seen it since 2005 or 2006 (or whenever it was), there’s no way that I can provide you with measurements. I just know that I removed 1cm from the top of the main body. I’m sure you could work it out by looking at the pictures. Honestly, it really is very simple to do – and if I did it, then I bet you would be able to as well. :)

      • Do you have exact measurements for the sonic?
        I finished it and used chrome paint. The LED torch sonic head was better than the CO one and it looks pretty identical to the CT one.

      • That’s excellent that you finished your Sonic, good score on that.

        As for your request for dims, I refer you to the answer that I gave to Josh Gilbert (above) on this before, I only half remember the dims, but the measurements that we took are still at the engineering firm who turned the prototype replica, so I don’t have them here to hand.

  24. Thanks for the tips on the Season 9 Sonic. I finally finished it up :)~

  25. holy s**t that is good , man do you have a lathe or somthing those things do cost a bomb, how mutch did you pay for the parts

  26. “holy s**t that is good , man
    do you have a lathe or somthing those things do cost a bomb, how mutch did you pay for the parts”

    The metal stock and parts cost about 30.00, but it is all custom machined (I did not buy any of the parts). I do have a lathe and mill that i used.

    • What values did you use for the outer/inner diameter of the two pieces (outer handle and inner sliding piece)? How did you get the crackle effect on the handle? I love the way yours came out!

  27. Hi PurpleBlancmange. Someone a while back posted here a site where you can buy parts for the sonic screwdriver. I checked it out and the images are computer generated but apparently the person makes the the parts too. Parts made are things from the end cap, main body/shaft, slider, button etc. What do you think?
    Parts for the sonic screwdriver

    • I’m not really sure what to think. The models look okay, some better than others, but the question really is – what material are you going to have it printed in if you decide to buy?

      The resolution can be hit and miss sometimes, but one thing that I’ve noticed with all these kinds of printed items is that you will have to do a bit of clean up afterwards, you know, sanding, filling and buffing.

      At the prices these are on offer at, you’d be mad not to (at the very least) try it out!

      • When you say the question is – what material are you going to have it printed in if you decide to buy – do you mean the material the part will end up being actually mad of? Like Delrin, resin, steel, etc? You use of the “printed” threw me a bit. On one hand I thought these might just be blueprints showing a good image to go by when making it yourself, but I also saw a selection to the right on those pages that seem to indicate actual materials you can buy the actual parts in. I suppose I can just call them and ask.

      • Yes, Shapeways is a company that allows you to upload 3D meshes and have it printed out using Rapid Prototyping technology which involves laying up hundreds of substrates of the material of your choice to “print” the final piece that you are after.

        Here’s a couple of Wiki write-ups on the subject that may interest you:


  28. Hey, I’m the guy who drew up the David Tennant sonic parts posted hear. Unfortunately, you can’t print in aluminum, but they do have a new material called smooth aluminide, that is sort of a plastic with aluminum powder. Alternatively, stainless steel is an option, but as Purple has said. You will get a texture to the printing that will be tough to polish out. If you do use any of these parts to build your own sonic, I’d recomend using a blue 15mm Round Glass Cabochon from as the lens.


  29. Thanks Dan, and also for the tip about the cabochons. I’d like to pass along an idea about that too. As for something to use for the head lens, I’ve been looking for acrylic cabochons, in particular cast acrylic, as cast acrylic is regarded for its optical clarity and light transmission properties, making it ideal for the flashlight feature. Cast acrylic is better than extruded or molded acrylic because of better machining properties and higher tensile strength. I found this following source, but: I haven’t yet checked if they are still in stock and also if the silver foil backing can be removed.. I’d think it could be though. I also don’t know if these are cast acrylic or molded acrylic but I thought I’d pass this on for anyone who might be interested in checking it out. They come in different colors, but I post the links to the light and darker sapphire. Looks like they’ light up nicely if the foil can be removed. I plan to call and ask.

    Light Sapphire – Light Sapphire Jewel Tone Color – Smooth Domed Top with Silver Foiled Flatback 15mm. Round Acrylic Lucite Cabochons. Superior Quality – Sold in Lots of 144

    Sapphire – Sapphire Jewel Tone Color – Smooth Domed Top with Silver Foiled Flatback 15mm. Round Acrylic Lucite Cabochons. Superior Quality – Sold in Lots of 144

  30. I was reading something recently by someone who has made his own 10th Doctor’s Sonic, and it was really good too. But he said that it’s not exact to any specific season and that any dimensions or features that might resemble any BBC license screen accurate version is coincidental.
    So my question is: Is there some general BBC proprietary law that makes it illegal for people to make screen accurate replicas on their own??

    • I’m not an expert in this and what I’m about to say may no-longer be the case from the time I was involved in licensed pieces, but I doubt it.

      What I was told by the chap at BBCWW Licensing (Jason Rice) was that it’s okay to make something for yourself and a couple of mates so long as no profit was being made. I was later told that you could sell a handful, but if you then made 4, the fourth one would be considered to be part of a production line and thusly the BBC would not see this in a good light.

      I think that you should just use common sense. If you don’t have a license, don’t make multiple copies of the same piece and sell them on eBay and the likes, if it’s just for you and your mates, and you keep it off radar, then there should be no worries… and it doesn’t matter how accurate it is, though the BBC may wonder how you got it so good – if they happen to pick up on your own builds – which they probably won’t.

      Basically, don’t poke the tiger with a stick or you’ll get bitten. Keep the stick to yourself and the tiger will leave you alone.

      Hope that helps you. :)

  31. Are there cad files that we can use to build our own sonic?

  32. a very interesting read and a great diary of how you did things.
    one day i ‘might’ give you the ORIGINAL specifications AND the internal schematics (plus the crucial main parts obviously..! because as you will know, ‘certain’ internals are Time-Lord science) then you can build yourself a REAL one but as i am sure you already know, if you build one, it will obviously need to be linked to your own personal neural network which means it will ONLY ever work for you.
    thanks for posting…

  33. […] where and when? Very good spot- I knew I'd read it somewhere. This is the blog in question: The 9th and 10th Doctor?s Sonic Screwdriver (Updated). | PurpleBlancmange Purpleblancmange said: It was great and folk were happy, even more so when the rumour […]

  34. […] of use of Sonic toys on the actual show (TL;DR- sometimes, as a stunt prop to be tossed/blown up): The 9th and 10th Doctor?s Sonic Screwdriver (Updated). | PurpleBlancmange And some more. I wonder if he's a member here. It?s almost here ? Doctor Who?s 50th Anniversary. | […]

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