Introduction: DIY Expandable File

About: I'm a part-time grad school student, part-time musician, full-time accountant, dad, and husband. I'm busy, but I'm busy with a lot of good things, so I count myself fortunate. With a full docket and not a lot …

Ever need to use an expandable file that only gets occasional use (like for receipts)? Ever cringe a bit to pay $5-10 for something that you'll use for a year and the file away likely to seldom be used again? Well, call me cheap, but I have.

These days I pay most of my bills online. Although I select paperless billing as often as possible, there are still some bills that I'll still get in the mail that have return envelopes that I will never use. One day I was sitting there thinking to myself, there has to be some kind of useful thing to do with these. They're not really useful for mailing things on account of all the writing and markings that come on them. Then it hit me, why not make an expandable file out of them? I already use expandable files for receipts and I pay $5-10 a piece for these expandable files just to be filed away in a box at the end of the year. Why not pay nothing? So, without further's how to make an expandable file using only envelopes, scissors, and a rubber band (and saliva...). 

Step 1: Step 1: Gather Materials

What you'll need: 13 envelopes (roughly the same size), scissors, a rubber band, and your mouth.

Step 2: Step 2: Cut Stuff

First, take 12 of the 13 envelopes and cut the top sealing flaps off at the crease. Then, take those sealing flaps and trim the non-glue parts off. You should have 12 glue strips left. Cut these in half. Now you should have 12 topless envelopes and 24 glue strips (along with a regular envelope and a rubber band).

Step 3: Step 3: Glue Stuff

Take two of your topless envelopes and place them next to each other with the bottom of each envelope toward the other with one facing up, the other facing down (see the picture and it will make more sense). Then take two glue strips and use them to attach the two envelopes together at each corner. Repeat this with the remaining 10 topless envelopes.

Step 4: Step 4: Fold Stuff

Take each glued pair and fold them so that the glue strip is inside.

Step 5: Step 5: Glue More Stuff

Now take each folded pair and glue them together the same way (one face up, the other face-down, bottoms facing each other). You should now have 3 sets of 4 folded & glued topless envelopes. Take these and glue them to each other the same way. You should now have 1 set of 12 folded and glued topless envelopes. It should now start to look like an expandable file.

Step 6: Step 6: Glue a Bit More Stuff

Now take your remaining two glue strips and bind the two bottom corners together (see pic). Then take the regular envelope and, using the sealing flap, affix it to the top of the rearmost topless envelope and fold over the top and front of the file. Now wrap with the rubber band.

Step 7: Step 7: YOU'RE DONE!

Voila: expandable file on the super-cheap. Enjoy!