Thursday, February 25, 2010

Drac in a Box (Version 1)

As a kid I watched far too many monster movies. I'd scan the TV guide at the beginning of the week to see what awaited me in the Saturday late night monster movie time slots. One of the movies that always filled my week with dread was Christopher Lee's Dracula has Risen from the Grave. I was an absolute moth to the flame with that one. It was one of the few movies that actually scared me and it also led to one of the more salient pieces of weirdness from my childhood. 

In the movie Dracula is revived accidently and that really bugged me. Although it is still hard (impossible?) to explain, I became worried that if I flushed a toilet at just the right moment, Dracula would come back from the dead. What can I say? That movie REALLY scared me. (I'm over that particular bit of oddness, thank you very much. But don't worry; my cabinet of weirdness is still so full I can't close the door.)

I've mentioned how frugal I am about raw materials and when people give me free stuff, I just can't resist. So a few years ago after a friend gave me an empty tea box with a sliding lid, I faced my fears and built a Dracula toy. Instead of Dracula rising from the grave, I decided to make him pop out of a tea box coffin. (I'd say that this was systematic desensitization or exposure therapy... but honestly, I just wanted to make something fun my girls would get a kick out of.)

Drac himself is 3 3/8" long and cut from 1/2" pine. I cut him out using a coping saw, but would now use a band or scroll saw. There is a plan at the bottom of this post, but obviously, you can make him (or her) however you want. Just keep in mind the dimensions of your box. There is a 5/16" hole all the way through his body towards his bottom. A 1/4" dowel fits through this hole to allow him to pivot up in his coffin.
The tea box I used was 5 3/4" long by 3 3/16" tall by 2 1/8" deep. The sliding lid is 1/4" thick with 1/16" inch tongues that slide into grooves the full length of the box.  The only changes I made to the box were to paint it and drill a few holes. The four holes:
  • A very small (3/64) hole at the foot of the coffin. This holds one end of a rubber band. The other end goes through Drac's mid-section.
  • A 1/4" hole all the way through from side to side that holds a 1/4" dowel. That dowel goes through a 5/16" hole through Drac's body. This allows him to swing/pivot up when the trigger dowel is removed.
  • A 1/4" hole in the "head" of the coffin. It holds a 1/4" piece of dowel that keeps Drac in place and under tension. This is the trigger dowel.
  • The last hole is 3/64" and it is in the sliding lid. A string leads from this hole to the trigger dowel. When the lid slides, the string pulls out the trigger dowel and Drac springs up.

The rubber band being threaded through Drac.
(Note his stylish cape. Just because you are un-dead doesn't mean you shouldn't try and look nice.)
Tie knots on either end of the rubber band to prevent it from pulling through the holes.
(Is that a Nobel Prize around his neck?)

Slide the lid partially closed. Then push Drac down and lock him in place with the trigger dowel.A small piece of black cloth along the top of the inside of the coffin folds down to hide Drac until he can spring up.
Here is a short video of the Drac in a Box in action.
(WARNING - Not for the faint of heart. This may be the most terrifying 11 second clip involving an old tea box and a two dimensional vampire on the internet. Well, at least I hope it is...)

Here are the plans for general reference. If you make your own, your dimensions and set up would be dependant on the box you used. Adjust as necessary.

(Version 2 is the works and will do away with the rubber band and will be a bit easier to "load.")

  1 comment:

  1. Hello from the Russian Federation! I look with great interest at your building of Drac in Box. I should wish to ask if you can please post dimensions in metric would be most helpful.


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While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
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Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.