Introduction: How to Build Your Own IPad Case.

Picture of How to Build Your Own IPad Case.

I know we have all seen and drooled over the new iPads and a few of us have shelled out the big bucks to get one.

If you are like me you want to protect your investment and make it look nice. If it can fit your personality and you make it your self, well that's a plus.


Step 1: Things You Will Need for This Project..

Picture of Things You Will Need for This Project..

1. iPad (or other such thing) 1a. If you are not doing a iPad a good ruler and other measuring tools.

2. Wood/Bamboo for the protective ring.

3. Hand tools (Drill, Drill bits, Saw, Files, Rasps, Dremmel tool X-acto knife, and glue.) Or you can do what I did and use a home built Cnc (a computer controlled wood router). Use what you got. 3a. If you are using a Cnc you can download the code however it is set for Mach 3 software and might need some adjusting if you don't use this program.

4 Old coat from Good Will (something that you like the fabric). You are going to destroy it so a few holes or elbow patches are ok.

5 Did I say Glue.. Get spray Super 77 and Elmer's. Double sided tape is nice to have as well..

Step 2: First Step, Measurements

Picture of First Step, Measurements

First step get the measurements of your new expensive item. For demonstration purposes we are going to use the iPad but any such device will work. All my settings are in Inches.

The iPad's measurements are 8.5 by 9.5 The corners are .5 radi and the thickness is .58 the edge is .25

Step 3: Second Step the Blank.

Picture of Second Step the Blank.

Second step The Blank. This is where the fun began for me. I have scrap wood all around my shop from past projects and the like. I ripped down some old bamboo flooring for my first iPad case. The second I got some walnut and cherry from a woodworker friend's scrap bin.

You don't need much... 12x12 by 3/4 is more than enough for this project. If you have a larger item add 1/4 to 1/2 inch all the way around to get the blank size you need.

I just ran the edges I wanted to glue, through the table saw and glued them together with old fashioned white glue. Nothing special. I did clamp it down to a chunk of glass to keep it flat and stable and not sticking to anything You can never have too many clamps..  

Step 4: Third Step the Programing..

Picture of Third Step the Programing..

Third step The programing.. While the glued dried I started on the program for the Cnc (my homemade computer controlled wood router)..

If you don't have one you can skip this step.

1. I entered all the measurements into my software program. Including the blank size and centered it. I added 1/32 of an inch to each edge for spaceing around the edge so the iPad would fit nicely. Then I offset it .25 to the left because there aren't any buttons on that side. I didn't like the way there were holes around the edge when the book was closed so I modified the edges to hide them as much as possible.

 2. I calculated my tool paths. On this project I started using all of my bits three or 4 times but I kept adjusting and modifying until I got 3 tool changes and all of the tool steps were together.

 3. A tip to save time I left the center as a block. I don't know what I am going to do with the scraps but they are cool.

 4. I left space around the buttons so I could get my fingers in For my hands I needed a half an inch to activate the buttons and be able to plug in and remove the cables and wires.

Step 5: Fourth Step, the Milling.

Picture of Fourth Step, the Milling.

Fourth step the milling. Each Computer Controlled Routing machine is different so I will show you what I did.

1. I made a flat board by milling it down with the largest bit I had.. This is not really part of making the case but you need the surface flat and true for this project.

2. I used wood screws to hold down the blank. I measured this 4 or 5 times to keep my expensive bits from nicking the wood screws. Some people have edge clamps and tape to hold down there work pieces.. Do what ever works for your table.. This works for me.

3. Mark the zero point. I do this with a chisel. This will help you set up each bit when you are setting up the next step.

If you are not using a Cnc you can still make your own case with a wood chisel. A drill press and saber saw will help speed the process along make sure to check your fit often.

Step 6: Fifth Step, Cutting of the Blank.

Picture of Fifth Step, Cutting of the Blank.

Fifth step is the cutting of the blank.

 1. I started smoothing the blank with my machine's largest bit. If I had done a better job setting up my blank and had better wood I think I could have skipped this step. (that is why it is not included in the software steps.

 2. The first bit is the .25 flat bottom spiral cut bit I used this to hog out most of the wood then to cut out the edges. I was worried that the part would break loos if I put too much stress on the part while milling. So I did most of the hard work while the edges were secured then I moved the screws to the middle for the next phase.

 3. I put in the .25 ball nose bit for the finishing. This is a nice bit and left a soft wave pattern on the bottom of the cut. I like this effect so I left it in and didn't sand it out.

 4. I spent quite a bit time making little engravings around the edges inside the pockets but after the first one looked poor I stopped the process. Live and learn.

This wasn't the fastest processes in the world. It takes almost 2 hours to complete so I started on the next step the cover while the blank was milling out.

Step 7: Sixth Step, the Cover.

Picture of Sixth Step, the Cover.

Sixth step the cover. No book is complete with out a cover.

I made mine out of a leather coat I got from Good Will I think the next time I will get a dress coat.. They are cheeper and the wool looks really cool but I went with leather this time. It took a hour and a half to strip out the back panel with a X-acto knife. I would recommend a seam ripper from the fabric store if you are going to do this.

 1. The wood is birch plywood (aircraft grade) from the local hobby store. It is 1/8 of an inch thick and stiff as a board (ha ha) You can use stiff cardboard for this or a old book that you have stripped the covers off of. If you use a old book check the size to make sure it will fit your blank.

 2. I added .25 of a inch to the top bottom and 1 side of the blanks final size to give it a bit of a over hang. Make 2. On the iPad I split the front cover 3 inches over from the spine so I could fold the cover back upon it's self and use it as a easel back. (I haven't used this feature much but It looks so cool!

 3. I added speaker holes in front so I can listen to the iPad with the cover closed. I haven't seen any one do this and my experiments show it doesn't make much of a difference, but there again it looks cool!

 4. The logo is mine and I cut it into the cover as well. I set the depth to 1/16 of an inch and this was too deep. I think 1/32 could work just fine but you need to take into account the fabric thickness and the boldness of your design.
If you wish to be even bolder you can take cardboard or paper and glue it to the board under your covering for a razed look. (I have done this on past projects and it looks cool too, and is a lot easer to do than carving out the wood.) If you are going to emboss your design in Keep It Bold. Fine detail gets lost... Just look at the button on the sleeve of the hook...

Step 8: Seventh Step. Finishing,

Picture of Seventh Step. Finishing,

Seventh step. Finishing,

 1. Sand everything!!! Twice!!. Remove all sharp edges and tool marks you don't want. I left some "witness" marks on mine to show off but a smooth case looks nice.

 2. Varnish your wood surround. This is going to be a hard working piece that is going to be in your grubby hands a lot so apply a good wood varnish or polyurethane. 3 coats is the minimum here. Sand between each coat people will be looking at this a lot and you don't want to be shamed by a poor finish job.

 3. While the surround is drying it is time to start on the cover. This is where spray glue comes in.

3a. Lay out your fabric or leather and place each one of the board on the surface leaving .25 of an inch on either side of the spine for spacing. Mark the layout and placement of the boards and cut off the excess fabric giving your self a .5" seam allowance.

3b. Coat the covers on one side with a good amount of spray glue and set in place. Adjust as needed before pressing down firmly. If you make a mistake pull it up quickly. Add more glue before reapplying. Take your time with this. You don't have anything else to do the varnish is drying.

3c. Now if you have put a logo on the cover now is the time to rub it in with the cap from a ball point pen or your finger nail. Be careful and make sure not to rip the fabric. A little water or rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle will help with this process.

3d. Rolling the edges is the trickiest part of this process. The corners always give me trouble.. So I start from the middle and work my way out the corners. I use spring clamps and take my time stretching each piece slightly one inch at a time. You can trim the edges after the glue is dry to keep things neat and tidy.

4 The inside panels. I make up some inside panels out of card stock and fabric the same way the book's covers however I am using thiner stock and thiner fabric because this is for trim and it will not take as much ware.. These panels you will want to keep about 1/16th smaller on the top and 1 side (keep the side towards the spine full length). Spray glue the card stock, and place them on the fabric. Then cut them out, spray the back and wrap over the edges. One more hit of spray glue and stick them in place.

5 If you are lucky and your surround is dry you can mount it into your cover. I use double sided carpet tape for this incase I wanted to change or modify things later. (Don't use the foam backed double sided tape because it adds thickness and it might show).

Step 9: Eighth Step, Final Tweaks.

Picture of Eighth Step, Final Tweaks.

Eighth step. Final tweaks.

Remember that 1/32 of a inch I included in the build step. Well my iPad was rattling around a bit so I added some thin strips of black craft foam on the edges of the top and bottom and that stopped the movement and gave me a good tight fit. I am also thinking about adding magnets to hold the case closed but haven't gotten there yet.

So Good luck with your case and if you have any questions please write me. Also test the files attached they work for my machine but may not work for yours. There are no promises or guarantees.

Take pride in your mistakes because they are the only thing you can truly call your own. 

Visit my web page Blackdog Carving Dot Com


Cheezpaper (author)2011-02-08

Haha my case looks like a book. I can use my iPad in class.

ahmed alhouti (author)Cheezpaper2015-03-30

lol why parents pay for school if thier son is playing in school >>?

sushi44 (author)2012-05-15

It's BEAUTIFUL !!!!!! Nice job!!

gregory46580 (author)2011-06-23

very creative idea,how did you come up with it?

It came from a need to protect my iPad but I was out of work and didn't have the money for the store bought one, but that was just the start.

My nickname is "Black Dog" Like most nicknames it is kind of a insult..
So I decided to embrace it and take it on as my image..
Blackdog was a pirate that gave Long John Silver the black spot so the Pirate theme was also a natural choice.

I have found out that if you want a really good idea you need to combine 2 or three into one, coming at it from several different thought angles.


patriots8888 (author)2011-05-22

Now to make an iPad....;-)

Ward_Nox (author)2010-07-25

i'd have made it say "Don't panic" but that's just me

Blackdog Barker (author)Ward_Nox2010-07-25

That is only if I add a button that when pushed it says Panic... Always travel with a towel, and the answer is 42.

And your personal supercomputer is called Deep Thought? Didn't look at all steps but end result looks fantastic! nice one.

It is nice to cross paths with a fellow traveler. :)

Ditto, even if the thread died several months ago. ;)

We apologise for the inconvenience.

HAHA - I finally found a case with "Don't Panic" on the cover - very excited about getting one.

acidbass (author)2010-08-02

i think the ipad is overrated but i would buy one just to make this

Blackdog Barker (author)acidbass2010-08-02

I need a friend with a kindle or a iPhone, so I can make other cases... I must encourage you to make a case because it is so choice. (paraphrased from Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

acidbass (author)Blackdog Barker2010-08-03

hmmmmm (i noticed my fave movie)

Blackdog Barker (author)acidbass2010-08-24

What?? You too?? No?? So Cool!!!

acidbass (author)Blackdog Barker2010-08-25

i love that movie

GeekyAdam (author)2010-08-01

When I first saw this, I thought the design on the front was Fruit Fu**er from

Maybe next time... I will have to watch it because my mother reads this...

cwix09 (author)2010-08-01

with what did you cut out the logo in your leather? your CNC?

Blackdog Barker (author)cwix092010-08-01

I cut the logo out of the plywood sub base and then press the leather into the void left behind.. It stays there because of spray glue...

NCBob (author)2010-07-29

Great instructable, for your CNC code what did you use to generate it? Did you just code it by hand or did you use a program. I was planning on making one as well, I've got a Bluumax CNC with some modifications and I use Vectrix Cut2D to generate my GCode. I'm going to get Cut3D but can't quite afford it yet :) I love the walnut mixed in with the bamboo, looks very sharp!

Blackdog Barker (author)NCBob2010-07-29

I used a Vectrix product, Aspire yes the expensive one.. I must say I am most impressed with the software.. You get what you pay for.. I know g code but I am not so good that I can type out thousands of lines. The first iPad case was solid bamboo.. The second case I stepped it up a bit and made it out of walnut and cherry.. Glad you liked the article and I would like to see your project when done..

NCBob (author)Blackdog Barker2010-07-30

Yes, I agree, the vectrix software is the best I've found. Mine is probably going to be totally out of bamboo, with some small rube pieces in the four corners to help hold it in. For the outer shell i was going to use a journal and take out the pages, but now that I've seen yours I like the idea of binding it myself because then I can have it stand up, and of course I can do a cool logo on the front as well. I might even make this project be my first instructable, and i might include the CNC steps since this is where I got started with my CNC. Thanks again for an excellent instructable!!!!!

Blackdog Barker (author)NCBob2010-07-30

I though about little rubber stoppers but, I have found great success with using art foam (it is 1/16th thick and comes in 8.5x11 sheets in different colors) with double sided taped on the back of the foam. I cut thin strips and place them along the rim inside the frame.. It holds great and you can add just as much as you need for a press fit. If you can find someone putting in bamboo flooring you can use the scraps for your project.. That is what I did with my first experiment. I have found solid wood flooring the thickness you need for the rim... You can still use the covers from the journal if they fit. Your logo could be cut from thick paper glued under the leather... I have found .02 to .03 is working better than .0625 that I cut into the cover.

bliu7496 (author)2010-07-29

this looks awesome but it seems a little hard to make

milesduggan (author)2010-07-29

Wow beautiful work!

Lithium Rain (author)2010-07-27

Absolutely gorgeous. Don't suppose you'd post files of your logo...? :)

Post my logo hahahaha you are so funny!!! I must admit you crack me up.. he....

Surely posting it under a restricted license results only in free advertising? :)

Oh you weren't kidding, awkward..

Just thought it was purty...guess I'll have to replicate it myself if I want it on anything of mine. :p

gamnoparts (author)2010-07-27

Nice. I just watched a video a cpl days ago from dodocase walking you through how they make their case. Maybe it will help someone not quite sure of the process. This is just the cover, but there are probably more that I'm too lazy to look up. ;) FWIW: I definitely like the contour of your cover.

Yes I saw that too.. I would have bought one if I had seen it before I made my first one.. After I made the first one and found out how easy it was I had to make another then, well I had to post...

beyondimagination (author)2010-07-27

I love it! Makes me want to buy an Ipad, just to make one.

If you make a case I would love to see the photos!

Ill see if i can make one for my phone

carlfreeland (author)2010-07-28

You got really stellar results (and on WALNUT!) using your CNC mill. What CNC mill did you build? Are the instructions for it posted here on instructables?

Almost any Cnc on this site will do just fine.. I got my Cnc from a kit and I feel if I posted how I built it, it would be a bit like cheating... The trick with Walnut is to have a sharp tool and take passes 20% of your bit dia..

piperjon (author)2010-07-27

Absolutely beautiful! That's some mighty fine work there, yo. I can see my Kindle resting comfortably in something like this, if I had the tools. Perhaps some fine day, eh? - Pj

Blackdog Barker (author)piperjon2010-07-27

It is not hard to find someone with tools.. If you have someone make a ring the cover is the fun part.. You can even cut the ring out with a copping saw...

junits15 (author)2010-07-25

the ipad is stupid

drhulsey (author)junits152010-07-25

My suggestion would be, don't buy one.

junits15 (author)drhulsey2010-07-27


Blackdog Barker (author)junits152010-07-25

That may be but you can use this to protect other things as well.. I have yet to try a Nintendo Ds or a Game boy. I also would like to try a iPhone or a blackberry..

If you are looking to try an iPhone.... Would you be up for a commission?! :D

I would love to try a iPhone... I have lots of ideas for one..

tygrr (author)2010-07-27

This is super sexy. I would love it for my nook

canida (author)2010-07-26

That's downright elegant! Fabulous work.

Creativeman (author)2010-07-25

Outstanding! You no doubt, are a pro...perhaps we could see some more instructables? Thanks for posting. Cman

About This Instructable




Bio: I earned an art degree from the Art Institute of Seattle and became a official Graphic Designer and Electronic prepress expert. To add to the ... More »
More by Blackdog Barker:Fish Fire Place MantelHow to install a Bamboo FloorHow to build your own iPad case.
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