This document will show you how to make a Hacker's Wallet, a wallet made from recyclates that is easy to make, repair and hack. The project is housed at www.openthing.org/products/hackerswallet .

Features in this version:
A long pocket for UK bank notes with a small opening at the bottom.
Two pockets suitable for several standard credit card sized cards.
Tough and durable for daily use.
Translucent for viewing the contents from the outside.
Measures 105mm x 90mm when closed.
Made by local makers from locally sourced, reclaimed materials.

Updates from v1.1
* length increased to accommodate £20 note (thanks to Paul Gault).

This design is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license. You are encouraged to copy and modify, especially for commercial purposes, and are obliged to share your source similarly.

Greensteam , Zero-waste Design ,
Annalisa Simonella, Paul Gault (AKA peg)

You can buy Hacker's Wallets from the sites listed here .

Step 1: What you need.

For one wallet you will need:

Electrical/insulation tape - This comes in a variety of bright colours such as these value packs from Maplin . Good quality tape (thicker, cleanly finished at the edges, not too gooey) is a joy to work with but is not essential.

Some reclaimed thin, tough translucent material (see sizes in step 2) - The printed circuit acetate found in computer keyboards is ideal, but hard to get in bulk. I have also used old acetate maps, old window blind material, or what looked like waterproofing membrane. The translucency allows you to see the items inside the wallet from the outside, so again is optional, opaque stuff is also fine.

The template downloadable in the zip below, or from here - it is basically two rectangles. There's also a great quick assembly guide below drawn by Annalisa Simonella, includeed in the zip. See the Readme file for format details.

A sewing machine and tough thread - upholstery thread is ideal, or thick cotton thread, or a polymer based thread.


A craft knife and new blade.

A straight edge and cutting mat, or a laser cutter.

A small piece of scrap cardboard or plastic. (~ 50mm square)

Here is the version I made using glossy-paper from some advertisement that got sent home to me thru the mail. It's going to be interesting to see when it will break but otherwise I am very happy with the result :)
wow, looks great! Keep us up to date with how it fares.<br>
Thank you! It has worked pretty great so far; however the paper has started to tear a bit in the middle of the wallet (see image). I will probably make a new version with tape in the middle aswell.
I have not yet tested this, but, in replacing the cardboard with a piece of sheet metal sanded/ protected with tape, or even just by adding few layers of aluminum foil, you could make this RFID-proof .
I feel like having a transparent wallet might not be a great idea, but I guess people know there's money in it anyway... you might want to keep small denominations on the outside, though. <br>My tyvek USPS envelope wallet is getting pretty worn, so I might have to get a hold of an old keyboard and make one of these. Have you had any problems with the tape peeling up at the edges and getting dirty?<br>Nice instructable!
No, the electrical tape takes very well to acetate-like material. It's not so good with certain woven materials I've tried, definitely the smoother the better.
I've actually been taking apart a few keyboards in my design lab at work and have been looking for something to turn the printed circuit into. Great idea! If I want to adapt this into a class and credit &amp; link back to you, would that be okay? I work at a nonprofit science/tech museum.
That is all within the ethos of open design, of course. Please credit all the authors, greensteam, annalisa and myself, and, strictly speaking, all the other related wallet designs out there!<br>
These are really beautiful! and functional! Great job!!
Excellent and simple idea. Have you ever thought of making other accessories? How durable would you say these are?
The one I'm using I've had for about 6 months and is enduring well. A little crumpled around the corners.<br>I would expect the wallet to last well for at least a year and if anything to fail at the connections rather than the material, os should be easily fixed with some re-taping and sewing.
You could make the edges a bit stronger by putting pieces of wire, or even parachute cord, inside the edges, under the tape. Then you could sew (with dental floss, much stronger) around the wire through the tape and material. That would make the edges stiffer and the stitching less likely to tear, without making the wallet much more complex or ruining it's low profile. just an idea. ILPUG
I didn't quite get the instructions-- Where do I get this template you speak of? I checked the ZIP and didn't see one. Oh well. I got the basic idea and tried it out, sort of jerry rigging it. It looks really cool anyway! Great source of inspiration. :D
Sorry about that. In the zip file, the .ai and .svg files entitled 'hacker's wallet v1.0' are the layouts/template. The .ai is for Illustrator CS4 and the .svg is v1.1., openable in Inkscape.
Oh, okay, gotcha. I couldn't open either of those, so that explains why I couldn't find it. Either way, I sort of got the idea from the pictures and made one that works, so I'm happy. It looks awesome.
Aplogies again, will add a .pdf next time if that is any help.
PDF is a good idea, accessible to everyone without having to rely on shared programs
What do you mean ``shared programs''? I understand objecting to the .ai, but .svg can be opened in Firefox (3.5+?; free), Google Chrome (free), most recent web browsers, Inkscape (free), can be imported into GIMP (free) and a number of other common programs.
Sorry, lukeshu, I was talking in general. <br>People visit Instructables from really different backgrounds -network connections, system and age of their computers, etc- besides having or not the same programs as the author. <br>Also, some people either aren't allowed to install programs in the computer they are using, are not comfortable having to do it, or simply don't know how to do it. Uploading PDFs makes the document easier to read in many of these cases.
Have updated to v1.1 with a .pdf layout and fixed the boundaries on the.svg so hopefully they are more fully viewable (works in my Firefox).<br>Thanks for your feedback!

About This Instructable


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Bio: I am a freelance design engineer and drummer. My business site is at http://www.zero-waste.co.uk and is often concerned with appropriate technologies ... More »
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