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The average price for a laptop sleeve is about $30. I will show you a quick and easy way to upcycle an old three ring binder into a laptop sleeve.

Step 1: Measure Your Laptop

For this project the most important item you need is the binder. The brand and style of binder you select will largely depend on the dimensions of your laptop. To ensure an optimal fit, you will need to measure the footprint of your laptop. You will need to make sure that the overall width, depth and height of the binder will accommodate your laptop. I took measurements of my laptop and a small measuring tape with me when I went looking for a binder.

Step 2: Selecting a Binder

Now that you have the proper measurements for your laptop, you need to find a binder. I did not have any that fit my laptop, so I had to go hunting for one. Garage sales and thrift stores are great places to find binders. I found 2 binders at a thrift store for $.25 each.

I liked them both for different reasons. The first binder is a nice rugged looking binder with a heavy duty zipper and a nice camouflaged canvas cover. The cover has lots of pockets and pouches on the outside. This is something that I would take on longer outdoor trips. The pockets are handy for all of the peripheral gear that one uses with their laptop (mouse, usb hub, memory stick...).

The second binder is more streamlined. It has a nice heavy zipper, but does not have any exterior pockets. There is a nice interior pouch. This is the sleeve I will use for bumming around town. It is compact and provides a fair amount of protection.

An added bonus of using a binder for a laptop sleeve is obfuscation. Laptops are stolen all of the time. On the other hand, I do not see many notebook thieves out there prospering. I also liked the irony in using a binder to hold a "notebook" computer.

Step 3: Preparing the Binder

During this step you will need to clean the binder if you choose too. Mine had a few papers left in it, and some sticker residue on the cover. I cleaned the papers out, and scrubbed off the sticker goo. The binders were ready to be modified.

Step 4: Modifying the Binder

Now it is time to perform the modifications that will turn your binder into a laptop sleeve. I used a cheap Leatherman knock off because that is what I had on hand to work with. You might find these modifications easier to make with a different tool.

The basic premise is to remove the rings and hardware of the binder from the spine of the binder without removing anything that provides support or protection. The method you choose will largely depend on the type of binder you have, the tools that are available to you and how much work you want to make for yourself.

I removed the metal 3 ring assembly of the camo binder by snapping off the rivets that hold that assembly to the spine. You may have more work on your binder to get it to where you need it so you can fit your laptop inside.

Step 5: Introduce Your Laptop to It's New Sleeve

Now you can put the laptop in the sleeve! If you are upto it you could customize the sleeve more with some lights and perhaps a solar charging panel!
I only have one question. I read through this, mind you quickly, and I couldn't find how you secured the laptop to the modified binder? How do you go about that? Or, is it that you don't secure it, you just sit the laptop in?
For those of you having trouble removing the rivets... it's quite easy. I've modded many computer cases in my days and came across many rivets. Just use an electric drill and a bit big enough to grind away the top center edge&nbsp;of the rivet. Problem solved! <br /> <br /> Btw, if the rivet gets stuck on the bit, use plyers&nbsp;to remove&nbsp;it. Grip tight onto the rivet and put the drill in reverse. <br /> <br /> Hope this helps,<br /> hed
I am very impressed. The only thing is I would want to customize it! And I think I could. I'll play with it and send you a picture of the finished product!!! Thanks for sharing. Gale
FOUND A GR8 BINDER! if only i could get the rings out...X(
I used pliers and just yanked them out. If that is not an option look at cutting them out with a hacksaw.
i ripped mine out with my bare hands, just alot of bending back and forth...
if you yank them out, won;t it hav a nasty rip on the outside?
on all of them that I have built there are no rips on the outside when I have ripped them out. There are generally only 2 rivets on the outer side of the binder. If you use pliers you can generally break the rings out without causing the rivets to tear through the binder.
you could probably stitch some elastic bands to the inside so that they would go over the keyboard area of you laptop to hold it in better
before I looked at this I had 3 options 1.) use my old laptop bas that is a MONSTER and heavy in addition to normal school bag. This was really heavy, and bulky 2.) Buy a laptop sleeve. Considering a spartanic sleeve down here costs 50 bucks, I was like "HELL NO" 3.) Carry my brand new laptop in the same compartment in my bag as my books and paper... well this isn't really an option... cuz I like my laptop quite a lot, thank you. this was exactly what I needed... and very strong yet spartanic case that could withstand some abuse(those little cases are just a thin piece of cloth..., this ones a tank!)
I did this for my macbook, but didn't really like it. (felt like it would fall out) Nice job!
I was a little concerned with that as well, I am currently working on adding Velcro pads on the back of my laptop that would connect it more securely to the inside of the sleeve. There are other ways to make sure that the laptop stays inside as well, but I have lots of Velcro and little time and that seems to be the best solution for me for now.
It is a dell d600 series. They are basically the same size. I have a friend with a 630 and it still fit even though the screen was a little wider.
Is that laptop a Dell C400, Just guessing by the size of it. As I was going to do this with my L400 (same size) Joe
This is awesome mate. Your idea is inexpensive, readily available, easily & endlessly customizable & I just luurrrvvve it!! I had the same idea for my camcorder only I used a camo (in more ways than one)cooler lunch bag, plenty of pockets for accessories, padded, somewhat waterproof & no one has tried to knock off my "lunch" yet! I will be using this idea to do the same with my laptop. Thanx for your insight. Have a good one.
Thank you for your very kind words. I am still working on some additional customizations of my own. Perhaps if I ever finish I can update the Instructable.

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