Introduction: How to Make a Minimalistic (and Cheap) Laptop Case

Picture of How to Make a Minimalistic (and Cheap) Laptop Case

I got tired of looking at the scratches and dents my MacBook suffered every time i tried to take it somewhere without throwing it in my rather large backpack. I needed something slim yet good looking. Something rugged yet inexpensive. I turned to my two best friends cardboard and duct tape! In this instructable I'll show you exactly how to make one of your own!

Step 1: Materials and Sizing

Picture of Materials and Sizing

Materials: cardboard, duct tape and a laptop.

I was lucky enough to find a box that was just the right size for my macBook. You may have to hunt around to find one you like but as long as there are no creases in the middle (eg too small a box) you should be ok with any size.

Your box is perfect if you can just barely stand your computer on end when it's all constructed.

Step 2: Trimming, Part One

Picture of Trimming, Part One

Alright, screw your courage to the sticking place and prepare for first blood.

Cut your box open down one of the corners. Then trim it down to two sections and loose two opposing flaps.

There will be two measurements you will have to make now. The first corresponds to the depth or hight of your lappy. The second corresponds to the width. The easiest way to do these is to just roll it. First set it so the bottom lines up with the edge of the two flaps (like it is in the pictures) then set it up on end while keeping one edge on the cardboard like a hinge. If you are careful you will get the exact hight measurement you need. Mark with a pen. This measurement will be a crease. Keep rolling it so its lying upside down. Mark again. This measurement will be a cut.

You can crease however you like but I cut through the first layer down on the inside down a ripple of the corrugated middle layer.

see the photos. I remember something about 1000 words....

Step 3: Trimming, Part Two

Picture of Trimming, Part Two

Alright. Almost done cutting.

now we need to create the sides of the case. To do this you trim the remaining flaps to the same length as the hight of your computer.

Step 4: Folding and Taping

Picture of Folding and Taping

I left enough material at the top to make a flap. I'm sure you could just as easily leave it open. If you do want a flap it's as easy as two extra creases and maybe a cut to shorten it.

Now fold her up. You can tape to suit you. some like straight lines, others like it all crazy like a square ball of yarn. I decided to do racing stripes.

The only thing that you need to do is get your horizontal strips in first. Everything after that can be purely cosmetic but you need some structure to start off with.

Step 5: Cosmetics

Picture of Cosmetics

Go wild.

I did red with white vertical racing stripes.


TreeHobo7 (author)2015-04-27

what else can I use as padding?

jessyho862013 (author)2013-11-29

that design look nice there, good job!! :)

Freshbott2 (author)2010-12-14

I'm considering making something similar to this only out of material, I like the look of this design.

royshearer (author)2008-08-09

Here is my version of this laptop case - I made a removable accessories tray for the power supply, hard drive, card reader and mouse. Removable as sometimes I need that stuff, and sometimes not (its a lot to carry around I know). Brought to you by the power of velcro, the flap can either fasten to the tray or the bottom of the case when the tray is not in use. Thank you, very useful instructable!

J-Manoo7 (author)royshearer2010-08-19

I like the tray, good job!

matbh (author)royshearer2009-05-24


stephenniall (author)royshearer2009-04-13

Wow thats Flippin awesome Omfg i love it LOl I may make one like urs and Paint it THks for the tray idea

bengerszewski (author)royshearer2009-02-13

That is amazing! if i end up making a case, i will definity use this design!

royshearer (author)bengerszewski2009-02-15

Great! I think if I did it again I would try making the tray bit even more compact and give the case a handle of some sort.

Yerboogieman (author)royshearer2008-12-26

Is that a tiny External HD i see?

royshearer (author)Yerboogieman2009-02-15

Well, its not that tiny, its a Lacie thing, about 100x130x15 I'd say.

zoundsPadang (author)royshearer2008-08-09

Wow that's really sweet! good to see an elaboration on my original design!

iLLiDiaN (author)2010-05-09

 nice idea here, keep up the great work

KatherineCraft (author)2009-05-19

I made this with an amazon box, no cutting required, it fit my macbook perfectly. I also used wrapping paper and poorly applied sticky-back plastic. I was so easy and cost me nothing.

and here it is

jessyratfink (author)2009-03-22

I think I might try this with cardboard and oilcloth. I think that will work just as well. :D

recritchlow (author)2009-03-14

Very neat. Put it into the cardboard and ducktape gallery. I expect this would be a TSA checkpoint friendly laptop case, too. It has no extra pockets and no metal parts to obscure the x-ray view. I think I'll add an extra layer of cardboard around the edges to provide extra padding, especially in the corners.

chriss727 (author)2008-12-19

it would be cool if you also add a strap

schoolgirl867869 (author)2008-06-23

I tried this and it was a relative success just make sure to cut the pieces a little bit bigger so the laptop in question fits but isn't too snug like mine was.

I made mine rather snug on purpose. If it's cardboard it should slide in and out nicely.

I made mine too snug I have to wiggle it out but i found a way to strech it so it isnt too difficult

André (author)2008-06-16

Nice! I love the idea!

JoeyJaroz (author)2007-11-10

My Compaq C55NR looks just like your MacBook except mine says Compaq on the front And it cost like 1/5 the price of your mac lol

zoundsPadang (author)JoeyJaroz2007-11-10

glad you like it. I love my macbook, which was worth the price and will continue to be for years to come too!

JoeyJaroz (author)zoundsPadang2008-03-20

true, my Compaq is allready slowin down im gettin a mac as soon as i get the money

Ora (author)2007-08-30

How well to spray painted stencils hold up on duct tape?

rasta_bhoy (author)Ora2008-03-06

paint will slide off the duct tape. try painting or stenciling the cardboard first and just leave that space free and just put duct tape for borders. your choice

zoundsPadang (author)Ora2007-08-31

meh. Depends on what kind of spray paint you get. If you were to wrap with clear tape after spraypanting however....

kittyno (author)2008-02-20

couldn't tyvek be used as well for a more rugged cover, in lieu of duct tape, or at least to cut down on the duct tape usage?

zoundsPadang (author)kittyno2008-02-20

You could. Of course, the amount of duct tape used in any given project is directly proportionate to the awesomeness of the final product. Also, I've used this case since i built it about 6 months ago and there's no degradation at all so it shouldn't be an issue.

koekoek (author)2008-01-22

Really cool! :P

lilianne (author)2008-01-22

we had to make this for school, it's really fun!

vurrud (author)2007-12-08

It´s really cool. Thanks for the idea

zoundsPadang (author)2007-11-10

A few people were afraid that this would scratch a 'book but after a few months of use I'm proud to say that my macbook is spotless!

e.bender (author)2007-11-03

Good instructable. i recently got the new 17 inch VIAO notebook, and there is not a cover that will fit it, its kinda huge. I may have to try this one. Thanks EB

Tom Trottier (author)2007-09-06

Use corroplast (plastic cardboard) for a longer-lived case. Old election signs are cheapest. tOM

helifino (author)Tom Trottier2007-09-08

I formed a relationship with my local convenience store's owner - he now saves all the coroplast signs (soda & tobaco ads) for me when the promotion they're used for is over.

buZztiaan (author)2007-09-06

nice one :)

zoundsPadang (author)2007-08-31

can i suggest ? I have black on a black macbook and it's just subtle enough to look classy. No one notices it until they have been sitting across from me in class for a semester. You should also check out which has a version that comes with a full sleeve. I just have the wrist wrest which is almost invisible and very comfortable!

zoundsPadang (author)2007-08-31

i think the magnets are also safer because they are stationary. It's not like they slide back and forth over the HDD. Where/why did you put the padding?

zoundsPadang (author)2007-08-31

yeh, you will need to overshoot the distance for that second fold on the top a bit but as you use it it will stay closed better. I flirted with the idea of magnets but decided that to be effective they would have to be strong enough to do damage to my computer after sliding it past them over ad over. I like the idea of velcro but my dorm is suspiciously devoid of it. :)

tiuk (author)2007-08-31

At my local Samsonite store they had small leather (ish, I think it's synthetic) cases that fit my laptop perfectly. I think they're meant for transporting documents or something, but it cost like $5 and works well.

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