Introduction: The Spiral Data Tato -- a Curiously Complex Origami CD Case

Picture of The Spiral Data Tato -- a Curiously Complex Origami CD Case

[This instructable appears here under the Terms of Service. It also appears here under my terms of service. Mine say that this content is free as in speech and free as in beer. If you paid to see this content, you've been imposed upon. Ask for your money back and buy yourself a beer.]

The Spiral Data Tato is an origami CD or DVD case of the origata or tsutsumi ilk, that is, a complicated presentation model, intended as a gift for an honored recipient. Tato is a Japanese word that means purse or wallet.

The Spiral Data Tato opens and closes, using a charming innovation we like to call The Origami Zipper. It is available in American letter paper and in A4 versions and I have made some .DOC files (editable in MS Word or in OO Writer), in case you want to make a mix CD or display the contents of the disk on the outside of the model.

This is not a quick and simple fold and is not intended to be. There are several quick and simple origami CD holders out there, if that's what you looking for -- I highly recommend Tom Hull's American CD Case. This model is for the discerning hunter of geek chic, the intrepid seeker of cheap thrills and complex beauty for its own sake. It's also for the little nerdy guy who thinks he can get that beautiful blonde in Calculus 102 to talk to him, if he could only get her to listen to his ultimate roadtrip mix CD...yeah, buddy, this will do the trick. But you better have some conversation prepared for when she does talk to you and not just stand there, babbling on and on the way you do. All right? All right, let's fold.

Step 1: Crease Patterns

Picture of Crease Patterns

With most origami models, you start with a piece of paper and move from step to step, making landmark creases and folding this part to that. And this model can be folded that way. Trouble is, the American letter paper version starts out dividing the width of the paper into nine even sections; the A4 version needs eleven even sections. I could show you how that works, but it involves math and a leap of logic or two and maybe 90% of the readers will click out at that point. If you want to learn more about this, try here. The rest of you, come with me and download a crease pattern.

The American letter paper version is 8½ inches by 11 inches -- this is the one you want if you live in the US or in Canada.

The A4 version is 210 mm by 297 mm -- this is the one you want if you don't live in the US or in Canada.

Why are they different? It has nothing to do with my wonted (and much vaunted) hostility to the metric system, if that's what you're thinking. No, it's just that the arithmetic works out slightly differently with the change of width. The A4 version has a couple more folds in it and makes a rather prettier model. All part of life's rich pageant.

Step 2: Printing Out the Crease Pattern

Picture of Printing Out the Crease Pattern

Adobe Reader or KPDF or whatever you're using to view the file may want to shrink the crease pattern when you go to print it. The print dialog may seem quite plausible, but I urge you to resist it and to print without scaling. You'll lose the ends of the crease lines at the edges of the page, it's true, but there'll be more than enough to see where the lines are going.

Step 3: Folding the Crease Pattern

Picture of Folding the Crease Pattern

Examine the lines on the paper: the black, solid lines are mountain folds, the red, dashed lines are valley folds. (For those unclear on the distinction.) I tend to fold all the mountain folds first and then the valley folds. I also tend to fold the valleys as mountains and then reverse them, but that is to taste. Any way you can get the creases going in the right direction is cool.

Step 4: Super Double Secret A4 Step

Picture of Super Double Secret A4 Step

Shh...don't tell the Americadians. This is the secret step for folders of the A4 version. You fold down this flap.

You could, I suppose, cut it off, but it's not a bad place to have some reinforcement.

Step 5: Collapsing the Spiral Data Tato

Once you have all your creases in place, it's a good time to switch to video. This is how we collapse the crease pattern.

Your first time through will take you a little longer. Do not despair -- fold one or two of these and you'll be able to fold them as fast or faster than this.

Step 6: Inserting the Disk

Take your CD or DVD and insert between the helices.

Nice fit, eh? If it isn't, check to make sure you didn't scale the image when you printed it.

Step 7: Closing the Spiral Data Tato

After you've inserted the CD or DVD, collapse the upper spiral onto the disk and use your thumb to push the little flaps into the little pockets.

This is what we call The Origami Zipper.

Step 8: Opening the Spiral Data Tato

Holding the tato by the edges, pinch the edge of the band as shown and pull upwards. Zip!

The number of times you can zip up and unzip your disk depends on the quality of the paper you use. I like 24 lb. parchment, myself, but you may wish to experiment with what you have on hand.

(Oh, and little nerdy guy? You still with us? This is where the blonde in Calculus 102 goes, "Oooh!" and you get to show her the zipping several times over, until she can do it, herself. That's when you need to start a new topic. Make it good -- you start prosing on about your linux box or your LOTR figurines, this has all been for naught. Offer to teach her the model. There you go.)

Step 9: Afterword

Picture of Afterword

Would you like to try printing words onto the model? Here are the files:

Spiral Data Tato A4 for Word
Spiral Data Tato American Letter Paper for Word

I have tested these in Word and in Open Office Writer. Feel free to move the text boxes around and change fonts and such. Indeed, this model is Creative Commons licensed and I hope you will take it and modify it and make it your own.

There are a lot of folks out there who will say (in a Stewie Griffin voice, moreover), "Oh, that's a rectangle, that's not origami", or "There's lines on the paper, that's not origami." Well, modern origami conventions are pretty much just that: modern and conventions. There is no Académie Francaise for paperfolding, nor ought there be. If you're pure of heart and your skill is strong, you can fold it any way you like.

But I'll tell you a secret, just because I like you: it isn't origami until you share it.


nomannda (author)2014-02-28


I made it !!!


from japan

fuzzybunny2222 (author)2013-10-26


higgsboson23 (author)2012-12-17

This is amazing! Thank you so much for posting these instructions.

elroboto (author)2012-12-08

This is a great instructable and I would like to make some mix cds for gifts using this. However, sadly the .doc files are no longer working. Could something be done about it? I would love to print the songs, but I guess I could also do it all by hand.

oschene (author)elroboto2012-12-08

Don't know what's up with that -- that's a link to a file on Instructables' servers. But don't let it slow you down, the files can be found here:

origami crane (author)2012-01-16

there's actually an origami boulder site that sells a piece of scrunched up paper for $10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

go here

coolo52 (author)origami crane2012-02-22

why would anyone pay $10 for wadded up paper???

maybe i should sell origami boulders for $10

Jimi27 (author)2012-01-26

If you have a large format printer you can set up the A4 version to double up on super B size (13 x 19) paper for printing out. Plenty of room for the entire drawing twice.

origami crane (author)2012-01-16

the creasing took AGES but it's a very beautiful and useful origami model.

origami crane (author)2012-01-16

cool! thee creasing patterns are very similar to the origamispring into action. i just made one yesterday

lukestanmore (author)2011-10-31

This is well beyond excellent! Well done, I will be trying this over the next few days as soon as I have time. I will re-draw the folding lines on Techsoft 2D Design and laser cut/score the paper, this also opens the possibility to engrave text on the paper, creating a traditional feel to the gift. Thank you very much!

Jimi27 (author)2011-08-28

Great Instructable! The creasing may be time consuming and the folding is a little tricky at first but once you've done about two the folding becomes a snap. The how to fold videos were very helpful!!! This is a wonderful project for when you want to give someone a special gift of a mix CD or a DVD video.

The Nomlack (author)2011-02-09

Cool! this is just like spring into action

paperairplanecreator (author)2011-01-07

Jefferson Airplane FTW

dodgedehaven (author)2010-11-26

Bravo!  This is a clever fold, and a beautiful Instructable.  I wholeheartedly concur with your philosophy of origami.

Emiliano Valencia (author)2010-10-01

wow i've done it! its wonderful!
Men, pots some more 'ibles like this one.

Valeil (author)2010-08-15

lol Americadians

Vinka (author)2010-06-29

HI! This cd case is the coolness!! Will make one as soon as I'm done with the uber cleaning going on in my house. Also, I'm with the 10% that wants to know how this is folded step by step (not that I'm against the templates, I love those) but the link to the diagrams page is broken. Does anyone know where to get them?

fenixmita (author)2010-05-21

my bad xD, forgot to fold =P
Came out cool, thanks!

fenixmita (author)2010-05-21

hi there, awesome instructable.
I've got this far into the steps... But I'm using size A4, and the edges are too long to fit in like in the video... =(

sideshowzimmie (author)2009-02-11

Now that is just awesome! I printed out the pdf with no page scaling but it missed a couple of lines. I think it's because my printer can't print edge to edge, but I'm not sure. I made one, but realized it was just a little too small. I mean, it's okay.. but not like yours! :(

oschene (author)sideshowzimmie2009-02-11

Did you use the A4 pdf with A4? The 8.5 x 11 model won't work on A4.

sideshowzimmie (author)oschene2009-02-11

I did! :) Half of the flap that you fold in on the A4 version didn't exist on my printed paper. I'm gonna check the settings on the printer later on

Zenosythe (author)sideshowzimmie2010-04-07

This happened to me too, but i was using the 8.5 x 11 Word model and paper. Im trying it with the A4 model and paper, hopefully it will fit :P

crosszxcvbnm (author)2010-02-25

for me this part was a little hard then it started to get easer. now i'm making the cd case for my friends. i can make some money thank u

oschene (author)crosszxcvbnm2010-02-25

Please read the license -- no commercial use without prior arrangement.

andamas (author)2010-02-03

 Excellent Piece, if you prepare the folds carefully, it almost closes itself. Thank you very much!

tubajoey1 (author)2009-02-17

I love how you pointed out the Ubuntu disk...LINUX PWNS ALL!!!

froggyman (author)tubajoey12009-02-17

i 2nd that do i hear a third

froggyman (author)froggyman2009-02-17

there are better linux distros than UBUNTU. For old/slow computers use SLAX For "regular" computers use RedHat, Debian or DreamLinux my opinion

tubajoey1 (author)froggyman2009-02-17

Yeah, Ubuntu is aimed more towards the beginning linux user. While I have been with Ubuntu for over a year now and feel like I know it, I still use ubuntu. Mainly because i have a sony vaio, and the support for the stuff in it is horrible. Mainly in the wireless card area. But Fedora is nice as well, and I had it for a bit, but I had to stay connected with an ethernet cable. But yeah...anyone reading this should try linux if you havent already. You can even dual boot and not harm your winblows...or mac. Very nice ible

froggyman (author)tubajoey12009-02-17

i agree, but dont do a dual boot, untill you are sure you want that Linux distro. and know what you are doing with it and understand the functions. I dont even have it installed on my computer, its on a 16GB Adata jump drive(which i got for $30, I felt like i was stealling it from him...), this way works very well and you dont have to worry about your Computer Crashing and loosing your data if you are unsure about how to "use" and install Linux. Plus this way i basicly have my "computer" with me, i just need a ahh... well computer. i had a friend who knew nothing about linux except that he want it on his computer, so he found some random distro, thinking they are all the same just a different GUI (they arent btw), so he did a full install on his primary HDD. Lost all of his data on his computer and currently has no OS on it or data, told him to install on an external HDD or flash, but he didnt listen! ohh well

tubajoey1 (author)froggyman2009-02-17

HAHAHA!!! Thats a nifty little way of using linux that I have also been meaning to do for a bit. But my primary OS is Ubuntu 7.10 (its the latest one I know works with vaio) and I am experimenting with xp as a virtual machine. I dont think I could ever go back to windows...or at least not as a primary OS.

oschene (author)tubajoey12009-02-18

I'm largely stuck with Windows because I use a vector drawing program that doesn't work under WINE and linux has no functional equivalent. (Yes, I have tried them all.)

But I dual boot to Kubuntu and like it very well, though I could wish it gave me more control over my X settings.

hanelyp (author)oschene2009-12-27

I use inkscape myself.  A fairly good SVG based vector drawing program, works on a range of desktop systems.  What program are you using, and what does it do special?

oschene (author)hanelyp2009-12-28

 I use CorelDraw -- it's simply more powerful and easier to use that Inkscape. I look forward to the day when open source vector drawing programs offer the same resources, but that isn't today.

tubajoey1 (author)oschene2009-02-18

You could try to edit the programing a bit with that vector drawing program. I personally dont know how that is done, but I heard one can produce some surprising results. And I recall hearing about a vector drawing program for linux...but dont recall the name of it...maybe its just in my head...

Rosselyn (author)2009-12-22

Buenisimo, hace rato andaba buscando como hacerlo pero al principio en el video no se entendia Thanks!!

lightis (author)2009-12-21

Thanks! This was amazing! Just wondering if you have a pdf template for where to add text like on the cover on the first slide?

oschene (author)lightis2009-12-21

 Try step 9.

london_kitty5 (author)2009-11-22

Gonna make one today!!  Many thanks!

Leyendecker (author)2009-10-12

 that was brilliant :)
and SO much fun to do! you've explained it really well..thanks!

biancahearts (author)2009-07-22

Maybe I'm way too impatient, but I honestly couldn't do it.

Even after taking seven hundred years in the folding, this part, I just couldn't fathom. ):

It is still superbly nice.
I might even attempt it again tomorrow.

Lady_Ophelia (author)2009-07-11

This is great! It's really worth the effort.

starrymirth (author)2009-07-09

This blonde in calculus 102, (Well, at my university we call it Maths 1, but it's calculus) is the one who DOES the origami. My boyfriend - (in my maths/physics classes), who won my heart a while back (yes, he has a personal server, running linux), just won National Debating, so I want to make him something special to say congrats.

addison101 (author)2009-04-05

Me too

Obelisk1101 (author)2009-03-22

Great instructable! I made one and it fit my DVDs perfectly. Now my ill-gotten media will have a proper home...

froggyman (author)2009-02-17

just a suggestion for when you take pictures up close, try to play around with the flash, like turning it off or on or inbetween settings, it should help get rid of the weird color

oschene (author)froggyman2009-02-18

Thanks, but I wasn't using a flash -- the color of the paper is off-white. And since then, I've gotten a nice light tent.

froggyman (author)oschene2009-02-18

I still love you videos you made with this, because when it comes to oragami it would take me years on how to figure this out. Those videos do so much than the expalining that would be done it writing. I already made my first one and it rox!

About This Instructable




Bio: Oschene is Philip Chapman-Bell, a human resources drudge living in western Massachusetts. I probably should mention my deep and abiding enthusiasm for Open Source Origami ... More »
More by oschene:The Guinness Box -- Sort of an Origami Box for St. Patrick's DayThe Spiral Data Tato -- A Curiously Complex Origami CD CaseThe Three Card Monte - An Origami Wallet
Add instructable to: