Introduction: Custom Briefcase

You've always wanted a briefcase. You know you have.
But with all the options of different pockets and colors and designs which should you choose? Plus there is usually a pretty penny to spend for one.

Solution? Make one yourself! With recycled materials you get to save the planet and your purse, and make your briefcase exactly how you want it.

This Instructable is in the Epilog Challenge Contest, so don't forget to vote if you like it, and rate it too. :)

Step 1: Materials and Tools

-Cardboard - I used the bottom from a case of water bottles, and the packaging from some good 'ol Ramen Noodles
-News papers
-White glue and other adhesives of choice - I used white glue and tacky glue
-Nylon strapping

-bowl to mix in
-something to mix with, preferably disposable

Optional Tools/Supplies
-rivet gun

**You may also want items that you plan to carry in your new briefcase to size up with**

Step 2: Ruler...Scalpel..

Trim your boxes until they are [roughly] the same heights. This was pretty easy for me because the Ramen box had low edges that I cut level with.

Trim your boxes to the same dimensions LxW. Lucky for me, my boxes had nearly the same width, which is exactly what I want. Unfortunately though, the lengths were different. To fix this, cut a strip from the middle of the longer box. Make sure the strip you remove makes the new length just a bit shorter than the length of the other box.

Repair the damages. Using the strip you just cut, make a few small pieces to cross the gap and keep both halves together. Stick 'um down with tacky glue.

Since the cardboard bottom from the case of water bottles didn't have square corners, I had to separate bend and rejoin them to be square.

Step 3: Fortify the Defenses!

Cut up your news paper into strips about two inches wide. You could skip cutting it or cut into smaller scraps, but two-inch-wide strips seemed good to me.

Mix one part water to one part white glue. I ended up using most of the bottle for this, about 5 tablespoons.

Dunk the strips of paper into the watery mess and lay them in your boxes. The purpose of this is to help strengthen the cardboard.

Let dry and then go back and put more on. I left mine over night to dry, and then felt that a single coating on the inside would be sufficient. If you wish you could do more than one coat and coat the outside as well. Go crazy.

Step 4: Divide And...Join?

Optional Part:
Take what you plan to carry in your briefcase and lay it inside the half that will be the bottom. Use some extra cardboard to create dividers and tacky glue away.

I'm pretty bad-ass, so I divided mine into two sides: one for standard sized paper, and the other for my calculator and pens.

Not-So-Optional Part:
Take the box that will be the top (when you open it) of your briefcase. Now cut the corners on either end of one of the long sides. You should now have a large face and three tinier sides all connected, with a single lone side flapping. Take this loner and glue it to the bottom box. You have just created your hinge. Clamp it or compress it somehow so it dries and bonds well.

Step 5: Cover It

Roll out some tyvec and lay your briefcase on it. Outline your briefcase, leaving about three inches extra on every side. The trick is to not forget about every face of the briefcase. Now cut it out.

Make more cuts to the tyvec, tailoring the tyvec just for your briefcase. Fold it over the edges to check your cuts. Then I used tacky glue to glue the bottom and bottom-side-flaps first. Clamp, leave between a rock and a hard place and let dry. Repeat for the hinge and top, and then for the top-side-flaps.

I chose to use tyvec because it creates a seamless covering, is durable and strong, and water resistant. You can use whatever you wish.

I was going to line the inside with white paper after I put the tyvec on, but I like the look of the news paper.

Step 6: Handles

Find the center on the non-hinge side of each.. uh, side. Then measure 2.5 inches away in both directions, and then measure two inches down. Mark these spots. Repeat on the other side. (On the bottom side/box I only measured down 1.5 inches because of overlap between the boxes.)

Take your strapping and measure how long you want your handles, cut and affix to your briefcase. You could do this with glue or you could do what I did.


Collect up your rivets(5), rivet gun, pliers and torch.
First I sealed the ends of the strapping with the torch. Next, take one rivet and hold it securely in the pliers, heat the mandrel(the stick part, I believe that's what it's called) with the torch and then use the pliers to push the hot metal rod into the marks you made in the last step. You may need to rotate the rivet to bore into the cardboard a little. Do this for all four marked spots (Handle attachment spots).

Then, take the ends of the strapping, line them us and repeat the heating process to make a hole through all four ends. I needed to do them separately, not all together.


**It just occurred to me that you could just as easily use a soldering iron for this.**

Force a clean rivet into each end of your strapping handles, and then into the holes you made in your briefcase. Pop the rivets. I put a small washer on the inside for each rivet to help prevent it from pulling out.

You're done!

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