You can do this with virtually any large piece of cardboard and any printable design in addition to using existing designs on the box.
When I got my new laptop in the mail, I was like, "Wow, neat box!" What irked me slightly was the lack of a matching case. After shopping around, I realized that all of the sleek looking sleeves were way overpriced and rarely had room for power cables, and the cases were bulky and ill fitting for a good looking laptop.
So I looked over some Instructables for ideas.
The cardboard and duct tape designs were cool, so I decided to give it a shot, except I would not be masking the entire box with duct tape, but rather keeping the design logo. Considering all of the fancy boxes these days, I imagine it wouldn't be hard to use some other box and do the same thing. Otherwise, you can just print out your favorite designs on paper and put that on.
In the end, I got a water resistant, reasonably protective and stylish case.
This is my first Instructable, so feel free to comment and add!
It's also entered in the Gorilla Glue Cardboard Contest, so vote if you like what you see!
Step 1: To the Scrap Heap!!!
-Your fancy laptop box, or plain corrugated box. Yes, its possible with a plain box.
-Your laptop, for measurements and testing. And a laptop case is nothing without a laptop.
-Clear packing tape. I recommend the durable stuff.
-Colorful duct tape. At a flea market, you might find a whole bunch of rolls for a dollar apiece.
-Sharp utility knife. Must be sharp for clean cuts.
-Yardstick or Meter stick. Small rulers may work for a netbook case, however.
-Some kind of fastener to keep the case closed.
Optional, as in Recommended
-Square Angle for perfect corners
-Some padding, if you want extra security. Some good types of padding are packing foam wrap, neoprene from a recycled wetsuit, sponges, diaper(extra absorbent!), etc. I'd use the foam wrap. But the diaper would probably add some water protection if any liquids do. Remember to make the case a bit larger than the laptop to accommodate the padding. Or else you will have a really tight fit.
-An adult, if you are too young to use a knife by yourself.
Optional, as in I'd be cool if we added this...
-Letter sized or slightly larger manila envelope with fastener.
-Pictures and stuff on 8.5"x11" paper.
-Printed Decals and Graphics. Plain paper is fine. Photo paper looks better, but is thicker.
-Dry erase marker.
-Cloth to wipe off dry erase marker.
-9V Battery Safe. More on this later.
Step 2: Disarm and Dismantle
When taking apart the box, be very careful not to crease, rip or dent the cardboard if you want it to look nice. Lay it flat so you can start planning.
Step 3: On Your Mark....
This is the obvious, but most important part of the planning. Here I have the laptop laying on top of the printed side. Depending on your style, you may want your design on the front, on the side, or both. If possible, make the entire case out of one piece, as I did. If you must, make the cuts where the edges of your box will be.
Either way, for best results, make your design as flawless as possible, without creases and folds all over the faces of your case. It makes for sturdier and more aesthetically pleasing case.
Please do not do as I did and mark on the printed side as well. Actually, I didn't mark, so that explains the sorry sight on the back of my case. And use a straight edge (meterstick/yardstick) while marking and cutting. Use a right angle for the corners if possible.
Always measure a bit extra, just in case.
And measure a little more extra, if using padding.
When finished marking your cuts, score your fold lines with the knife, being careful not to cut in deeply.
Step 4: Get Set...
This is an outline of where you would be cutting and where you would be scoring the folds. Red is for cuts, and blue is for folds. Remember to remove the items before scoring and cutting.
Step 5: And....CUT!
Do be careful.
Step 6: A Little Extra Padding Never Hurt
Add your padding to the inside. Hopefully you heeded my warnings earlier to give leeway for pads if you are using them, because it would really be a shame to have a nice case that your laptop doesn't fit into.
This is where the foam paper stuff comes in handy. It just rolls right over, so you can trim and tape with relative ease. Neoprene works well too. For everything else, it is probably easier to space the padding in the midsections of each panel.
Sorry there's no picture for this step. I skipped this step when making my case. Cardboard itself will protect form small dings and scratches, but not from larger impacts.
*Edit* Rule of thumb: the padding should not, I repeat, SHOULD NOT have a high friction coefficient. Meaning it shouldn't grip your laptop too much, or you will have a hard time forcing it in.
Step 7: And That's a Wrap!
Carefully fold up the flaps and tape them with the really strong packing tape, or any other really strong tape. A serious maker would also hot glue the joints, but who has time for that?
DO NOT forget to leave one side flap open so you can stick your laptop in.
Step 8: Duct Tape Fixes Everything, I Am Proof
In my instance, I'm going to use white duct tape. It cost around $3.50 for 20 yards, so it wasn't cheap.
To me anyways.
I later found mini rolls of colored duct tape 2 for $1 at a flea market.
If you are using a plain cardboard box, tape your design on now.
Use the clear packing tape to cover your designs to waterproof and protect them from the cutting blade, and apply the white (or otherwise) duct tape in an even pattern.
To make things easier, don't press the duct tape onto your design. It makes removal difficult. Scraps of paper also work well, but keep it away from the design's edge.
Carefully cut away the duct tape over the designs. A sharp X-acto knife will do well for intricate designs and tight spaces. Just remember to press hard enough to pierce the duct tape, but not enough to slice the box.
Remember to fold tape over edges, as to reduce the risk of flaking and peeling.
Step 9: Fasten Your Seat Belts!
You did keep one open, right?
Again, sorry for the lack of photographic evidence that this is possible. I have procrastinated on putting on the fasteners ever since I came upon that problem. All it needs is a bit of Velcro, really, but I'm just too lazy to go find some.
I've been holding it with tape. Yay tape!
Step 10: Add Ons!
-For mine, I added a page protector to the back, secured by tape. This serves two functions: it holds a neat picture and/or papers and it serves as a dry erase board. It's amazing how well it works. If your tape background is too dark to use as a "whiteboard," just stick in a piece of printer paper. Note that this is not water resistant if you don't seal the open edge.
-Folding an extra piece of cardboard to make another compartment in the case will keep your cables and laptop from rubbing together during transport.
-Alternately, add an envelope or manila folder that 's been taped on two sides and secured with a flap on the other to the back. Now you have a folder for papers.
-You can stick a 9V battery safe in the case with your laptop for valuables. Basically, open up a 9V battery, take out the cells, and replace with what you want to put in. Slide the cap back in, and if you did it good enough, no one can tell it has been tampered with. I'll add an Instructable with photos if demand is high enough, but I'm a bit tired finishing this one up. | : >P
-Cut up some of the foam that came with the laptop into little blocks. Use them to prop your laptop on the case so you can use the laptop on your lap. Ingenious.
-Cutting a flap where the lock port on your laptop is will allow you to lock the laptop in the box. Haven't tried it, so please comment if you do.
Step 11: Mission Accomplished!
Now, to go over the features one more time:
-Great Way To Pass Time!
-Ghetto! Wait, that's not a plus...is it?
-(Add feature here!)
Thanks for going through this highly detailed and wordy Instructable, and I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope to bring on many more in college!