In an increasingly DIY world, duct tape certainly hasn't lost its place. From tulips to tuxedos, duct tape artists have been wowing and inciting curiosity with their creativity for the past few decades. If you have always wanted to learn how to create with duct tape, but lack the know-how, you're in the right place! The purpose of this instructable is to teach those who have no experience working with duct tape how to make a simple, two-fold duct tape wallet; but perhaps more importantly, to teach some of the basics of working with duct tape. This instruction set will help you unleash your duct tape potential. With no prior experience, anticipate spending about 45-60 minutes making your first wallet - and then impressing all your friends with your new, stylish billfold.
Step 1: Materials, Tools and Process Overview
Materials and Tools
Before you begin, you will need the following to make your duct tape wallet:
1) *Duct tape (10 yds is more than enough)
3) Cash (one banknote for size reference)
4) Sticky notes, or some form of paper (optional)
5) Workspace (table, desk - anything flat you can work on)
*The brand of the tape is a matter of choice. The stronger the tape, the more durable the wallet, but the more difficult to work with and the more stiff a wallet. The weaker the tape, the more prone to fall apart, but the easier to work with and the easier to form after completion. I personally prefer to work with weaker, less-expensive tape, as it does not drastically affect the overall quality of the wallet and is easier to work with and use. In this tutorial, I will be using duct tape from Bazic Products.
The overall process of making a simple duct tape wallet looks something like this:
1) Make two duct tape wallet "walls" (solid "sheets" of duct tape - making non-adhesive duct tape material that can be worked with)
2) Join the walls at the bottom and side
3) Individually create desired wallet accessories
4) Attach wallet accessories
There are a number of different ways you can customize your wallet; credit card sleeves, change pockets, transparent sleeves, etc. For the sake of simplicity in this demo, I will only be creating credit card sleeves.
Step 2: The First Cut: Determining the Size of the Wallet
Before you begin taping anything, you will want to gauge the size of your wallet. This will entirely depend on what you personally carry in your wallet, and whether you want a two-fold or three-fold wallet. If you tend to carry a lot of cards or change, you will want a larger wallet. If you are minimalist and don't like to keep much in your wallet, you will want a smaller wallet. The "size" of your wallet translates into the length of the wallet "walls" you will be creating, and by implication, the length of the cuts of tape you will be making. In this demo, I will be creating a small two-fold wallet. The process of creating a three-fold wallet is fundamentally the same; the differences come in the creasing and accessorizing of the wallet.
Typically speaking, if you want a larger wallet, you will want your wallet walls to be at least half an inch longer than the length of banknote on either side; for a smaller wallet, at least a quarter-inch longer. For each crease (a two-fold wallet has one crease and a three-fold wallet has two creases) you should increase the overall length of the wallet wall by half an inch, and by implication, a quarter inch on either side of the length of the banknote. For example, to make a small two-fold wallet, I would want the wallet walls to be half an inch longer the length of the banknote on either side (a quarter inch as a general rule of thumb for smaller wallets, and an additional quarter inch on both sides due to the single crease of the two-fold wallet).
If that seems like too much to think about, don't worry too much about it; just know that you need to make the wallet walls slightly longer than the length of the banknote - and slightly longer than that if you anticipate having a more full wallet.
Finally, to make the first cut
1) *Pull a length of tape that exceeds your anticipated wallet wall length by at least one inch.
2) **Tear (or cut) the length of the tape.
3) Position the length of tape adhesive-side up.
*You'll need to account for the error created by tearing by providing some extra length in the cut. You should typically account for at least half an inch on each side of the banknote. Note that in the video, I've accounted for about an inch total on each side, thus preparing to make a small, two-fold wallet (extra wallet wall length and extra length to account for error).
**Tearing the tape may take some practice. It is much quicker than cutting, and can therefore be preferable when a clean edge is not important. Don't get discouraged if it takes a number of tries (and a number of wads of unusable tape) before you do it successfully. It is not uncommon for the tape to tear halfway down its width, then tear down its length, or leave a strand on the roll of the tape. Make sure when you are tearing that you tear as close to perpendicular to the length of the tape as possible. This will maximize your chances of a successful tear.
It is also not uncommon for the length to "whip" back and adhere to itself after being torn off, as shown in the video above. Once you have mastered the tearing motion, try to control it such that you minimize the whipping motion, and thereby reduce the chances of the length of tape adhering to itself.
Note the frayed short edges of the length of tape at the end of the video. This is expected. It is for this reason that we allow for at least a half inch of excess that we can cut off when we are ready to finalize our wallet wall.
Also note at the end of the video, the difficulty in releasing the length of tape adhesive-side up. This simply takes practice. You can also adhere the edge of a sticky note to the end of the length of tape, which will make releasing from it significantly easier (the sticky note would be cut off later along with excess tape).
Step 3: The Second Cut: Beginning the Wall
To begin constructing the wall, you will first need to
1) Repeat step 2;
but instead of deriving the length to tear off, reference the length of the first cut of tape. As you can never perfectly replicate the length of the first cut, it is good practice to air on the side of caution and tear the succeeding cuts slightly larger than the first. Once you have made your second cut,
2) Adhere the adhesive side of the second length of tape to the adhesive side of the first length of tape such that only half of the width of each length is adhered to half of the length of the other (see video for clarification).
This step is best accomplished by lowering the second length of tape onto the first, with the adhesive side down and a slight sag, letting the two lengths adhere to each other from the inside out (see video). This process sometimes results in bumps in between the two lengths of tape. These bumps could be bits of debris, or air bubbles. These blemishes can be avoided by making sure that you are working on a clean surface, and by carefully making sure that you are adhering the two lengths from the inside out.
Step 4: Building the Wall
To build the wall, you will essentially repeat Step 3, but with a series of lengths of tape that have been adhered together. Repeat this process until you have made a "wall" of tape (The mesh of tape shown in the video only required four lengths of tape). As it is difficult to get the edges of the tape to match perfectly, there will likely either be a small gap or overlap. Notice in the video that on one side there is a slight overlap, and on the other, a slight gap. The gap tends to happen if you are trying to get the edges of the tape to line up perfectly. While you may not want too much overlap, for aesthetic purposes, a little overlap doesn't look too bad and it provides extra strength for your wallet.
Notice also in the video that the banknote just barely fits within the mesh of tape that is adhered together. If you have more overlap you may want an additional length of tape. Additional height, however, can be added in the following step.
Step 5: Finish the Wall
Fold the remaining adhesive tape over the non-adhesive mesh of tape.
It is best to start (as in Step 3) from the middle and work your way out. This minimizes the chance of wrinkling or bubbling in the final product.
As shown in the video, you can fold it such that all of the adhesive is in contact with the tape, or such that the adhesive portion is mostly adhered to itself. Adhering what is left to itself will increase the height of the wall, but is a little trickier and can result in a gap between tape edges (as shown in the video). Do whichever seems best for the wallet you would like.
Step 6: Trim the Edges
Trim the edges of the wall, making sure that you allow for the amount of excess material you determined in Step 2. Notice that I have allowed for approximately half an inch of excess on either side of the banknote, which is ideal for making a small two-fold wallet.
Step 7: Make the Second Wall
Repeat Steps 2-6. It will be helpful to use the first wall you have made for reference.
Once you have made the second wall, overlay the two to make sure that the dimensions are approximately the same. You may need to do some trimming to make them the same fit.
Step 8: Joining the Walls - Taping the Inside
1) Begin by adhering a length of tape to the long edge of one of the wallet walls (see video). Be sure that the length of tape exceeds the length of the wall.
2) Carefully adhere the second wall to the same length of tape, allowing for a slight gap in between the edges of the walls (~1/16 in), as shown in the video. The adhesive will be exposed to what will become the exterior of the wallet, and the gap will allow for greater flexibility in folding the wallet walls together.
3) Remove the excess tape with scissors. This may be easier if you fold the walls together first, as shown in the video.
4) Cut a length of tape slightly in excess of the height of the wallet wall.
5) Adhere the length of tape to the short edge of one of the walls, as shown in the video.
6) Repeat the three previous substeps, but apply the second length of tape to the short edge opposite the short edge taped in substep 5.
7) Release the tape from the table.
8) Fold back one of the loose lengths of tape just applied and adhere it to the second wall, as shown in the video.This can be a little tricky. Be sure that the tape is taut, and try to start the adhesion at the intersection of the two walls, as shown in the video. This will allow for as smooth an adhesion as possible.
9) Repeat substep 8 with the second applied length of tape.
This will be a little more tricky, as one edge of the wallet will already be adhered, and the geometry is inherently awkward. Focus first on getting the remaining adhesive-exposed portion of the length of tape in between the walls at the intersection of the walls first. Then pull the tape taut, while it is flush with the table, and repeat the procedure in substep 8. As in the video, you may need to pull apart the bond, and reapply if the adhesion was not satisfactory. This is one of the trickier parts of the process, so don't get too frustrated if it is at first difficult.
10) Ensure the adhesions are strong by going over them with your fingers.
Step 9: Joining the Walls - Taping the Outside
1) Tear a length of tape that exceeds the length of the wallet.
2) Tape half the width of the length along the bottom as shown in the video.
3) Fold over the remaining adhesive tape to the other side.
When folding over any object with tape, it is best to work from the inside out. Apply pressure from the interface of the tape and the object, and from the middle to the outside of the adhesion (see video for clarification).
4) Trim off the excess tape on the outside edges of the wallet.
5) Tear a length of tape the marginally exceeds the height of the wallet.
6) Apply this length of tape the one outside edge of wall and fold it to the other side as shown in the video.
7) Trim off the excess tape on the outside edges of the wallet.
8) Repeat substeps 5-7 for the remaining edge of the wallet.
In doing substeps 5-8, you have taped the wallet shut. Simply open the wallet from the inside, and the residual adhesive will spread apart, as shown in the video.
Step 10: Crease the Wallet
Fold the wallet in half to create a crease in the middle of the wallet.
Notice in the second picture that standard plastic cards just barely fit between the crease and the wallet edge. This size of wallet serendipitously creates just enough room for two columns of standard cards.
If the wallet you made is too small, however, or you can tell that trying to fit cards in a columnar fashion will create too tight a fit, you can create sleeves in the orthogonal direction. This will typically make it so the cards extend slightly past the height of the wallet, but that is usually not an issue.
Step 11: Creating the Card Sleeves
As mentioned in Step 1, in this demo we will only be creating card sleeves. Theoretically, you can make as many sleeves as you can fit in the wallet while still being able to fold it closed. Typically you would make 4-8 sleeves in a wallet like the one you are making. The following instructions account for 6 card sleeves.
The creation of the sleeve is similar to the process of creating the wallet walls in Step 3.
1) Tear a length of tape that exceed the length of a standard plastic card by at least half an inch of either side.
2) Place the length of tape adhesive-side up on the table.
3) Repeat substep 1.
4) Adhere the entire width of second length of tape to the width of the first, as shown in the video.
5) Trim the length of tape such that it is marginally longer than the card you have used for reference (~1/10 in - see photo for reference).
6) Repeat substeps 1-5.
7) Refer to the second image in Step 10; notice the arrangement of the cards. Determine how you want the sleeves to be arranged. Don't stack them too closely; allow for at least 1/4 in of gap between each succeeding sleeve.
Step 12: Attaching the Sleeves
Before attaching the sleeves, you will need to do the following preparation:
1) Cut or tear a length of tape that exceeds the length of the wallet.
2) Cut or tear the previous length of tape in half along its length (as shown in the first picture).
3) Cut 4 pieces of tape with a width of about 3/4 in. Do not try to tear off these pieces of tape; tearing off short pieces of tape is typically unsuccessful, and you will want these pieces to have clean edges so they do not affect the aesthetics or smoothness of the wallet later.
4) Position your first sleeve where you want the top sleeve to be on one fold of the wallet, as shown in the video. You must begin with the top sleeve; if you begin at the bottom, you will not be able to apply additional sleeves without covering the previous ones.
5) Adhere the short edges of the sleeve to the wallet with the small pieces of tape, as shown in the video.
6) Repeat substeps 4 and 5 on the other fold of the wallet, as shown in the video. Be sure that the sleeves are flush, as in the video.
7) Adhere the bottoms of the sleeves to the wallet with one of the half-width lengths. It doesn't matter much if the edges are frayed, or uneven, as they will not be seen.
8) Trim the half-length to be flush with the outside edges of the wallet, as shown in the video.
9) Repeat substeps 3-8, except position these sleeves such that their bottom edges are halfway between the bottom edge of the wallet, and the bottom edges of the first set of sleeves.
10) Repeat substep 9, except position these sleeves to be flush with the bottom of the wallet.
At this point, you no longer have half of a length of tape to apply to the bottom of the sleeves. Instead of cutting a half-width length of tape as done previously, cut a full-width length of tape and apply it to both sides of the bottom of the wallet, as shown in the video.
Your wallet should now look something like the second and third images. Notice the inconsistencies on the back of the wallet. We will clean that up in the next step.
Step 13: Cleaning Up the Edges
As shown in the previous step, the back of the wallet now has some unseemly patterns on it due to the application of the sleeves. We will be covering them up in this step.
1) Cut a length of tape whose length is approximately twice the height of the wallet.
2) Adhere the length of tape the back of the wallet, such that it is flush with the edge of the wallet and such that there is about an inch of excess extending past the top of the wallet (see video for clarification).
3) Open the wallet wide such that you can fold and adhere the excess flap of tape to the inside of the wallet, as shown in the video.
4) Adhere rest of the tape around the bottom edge of the wallet, and on the front side, up until the top edge of the first sleeve.
5) Trim the excess tape from the top of the sleeve.
6) Repeat substeps 1-5 on the other side of the wallet.
The previous steps treated the side edges of the wallet. The following treats the bottom edge. This is an optional step. It has no effect on the function of the wallet.
7) Pull a length from the roll of tape in excess of the length of the wallet. Adhere it somewhere along the bottom such that it is flush with the bottom (as shown in the video). For aesthetic purposes, you may want to begin the adhesion such that the beginning of the tape is flush with the outside edge of the wallet, as in the video, or flush with the crease.
8) Adhere the tape all the way around the bottom of the wallet. Cut it such that the end of the length of tape is nearly collinear with the beginning edge.
Step 14: Fitting and Enjoying Your Wallet
Congratulations! You've just completed your first duct tape wallet, and you are on your way to duct tape DIY-dom. Now go fill it with your cash and cards, and start showing off your creative capital with all your colleagues.
Your wallet will be pretty stiff for a while - typically for a week or two, depending on how you carry it (if it is in your back pocket and you are sitting on it, it will soften up quicker). Regardless, carry it consistently, and your body heat and the ductility of the tape will cause it to take form in your pockets. It is common for wrinkles to develop in this bending process (see photo). It is also common for the corners and bottom edges to wear out more quickly than the rest of the wallet. But the great thing about a tape wallet is that if it begins to fall apart, you can tape it back together again!