Introduction: Hardwood Card Case

About: Tate is an artist, occasionally a curator, author, social designer as well as a frequent workshop facilitator focusing on utilization of available materials, tools and site specificity.

Wallets are so often just a place to accumulate stuff you don't really need to be carrying around. Choose to make a step in a more minimalist direction by ditching that clunky wallet for an elegant and efficient hardwood card case.

These wooden card cases are super simple to make and really classic looking. Unfortunately I can't take credit for the original design as it is my friend's dad's, but I did do some modifications to it. With a couple of small scraps of hardwood and an old bike inner tube, you can make one for yourself, for a friend or a family member for that next special occasion.

Step 1: Tools & Ingredients


  • Table saw or saw
  • Band saw (if you need to split your wood to make it thinner, optionally you could plane it thinner)
  • Belt sander or some sandpaper and a rasp
  • Chisel


  • A small piece of hardwood at-least 180mm by 60mm by 5-7mm (OR) 90mm by 120mm
  • Some wood glue
  • The wood finish of your choice (or none)

Step 2: Cut Your Pieces

You will need to cut two pieces approximately 60mm x 90mm x 5-7mm.

You can accomplish this using any kind of saw you feel comfortable with. I used a bandsaw.

Simple, no?

Step 3: Get Your Groove on (if You Want To)

Ok, so this step is not part of the original design but I thought it would be nice to have a groove in the wood as a seat for the inner tube rings.

You just need to make several cuts a couple of millimeters deep into your wood. The beginning and end cuts should be about 20mm apart with regularly spaced cuts between. Use your chisel to remove the bits that remain sticking up around your saw cuts and make a nice groove. You shouldn't need to use a hammer with your chisel; just wiggle the chisel in the grooves to get rid of all of those bits holding their ground. If your chisel is sharp, this should be no problem.

Alternatively, if you skip this step it gives more options to store things under the bike inner tube but on the outside of the wood. I keep just a couple of cards(library card & ID) on me and some cash so the groove is more preferable to me but you will have to make this decision based on whatever suits your lifestyle.

Step 4: Fulcrum Point

Ok, so this is also not part of the original design but I quite like this amendment.

If you have any wood left over. cut a piece which is as thick as your other pieces and also as wide...something like 6mm x 6mm x 60mm. Take this piece and glue it to the bottom/inside of one of your pieces of wood. Wait for the glue to dry before moving on to the next step.

This piece will act a bit like a fulcrum for your card case and cause a direct pinching force on your cards at the end while allowing the case to open a bit easier...It also reminds me of those chopsticks for children with the rubber-band around them.

*Note: The picture for this step was taken after sanding because originally I didn't add the fulcrum until after I had sanded it which, in retrospect, was a minor mistake.

Step 5: Sand

Now is the time to sand your pieces. I was using a belt sander which is how I made the gradated notch in the pieces and rounded the edges. You could also use a rasp/sandpaper/sanding-block combination to get the same effect but with a bit more effort.

Step 6: Done?

You can call this a finished project if you want to use it as-it-is without any sealant to your wood.

All you have to do is to cut a ring of bike inner tube to fit your notch (~20mm) and stretch it around your card case until you get it in place. The inner tube is incredibly strong and should last you for years but will be very difficult to stretch at first.

Step 7: Sealing

Well, if you decided in the last step that you didn't want for this project to end (I totally understand. It's way too quick) there is one last thing you can do which is to apply a finishing coat or two.

  • The sealant I used is labeled as "finishing oil". Finishing oils are traditionally vegetable oils with some solvent, mine has a strong presence of Tung oil in it which leaves the wood smelling similar to sesame oil which I really like. The solvent in it will give me a headache if I am not using it in a ventilated you should definitely use this or any other solvent based finish in a ventilated area. After the solvent evaporates all that is left is the oil finish which is safe for food-preparation surfaces (according to the website). One or two coats of this is all that is needed.
  • Oil-based polyurethane coats can give you a really luscious glossy finish with several thin coats and a light sanding with a super-fine sandpaper between coats.
  • Water based polyurethane sealants are great and non-toxic. You can get a glossy finish just like with the oil-based polyurethane BUT you will never achieve the same ultra-luscious gloss that you can get with the oil-based.

Step 8: Finished!

So you've made it all the way to the end and now you just need to cut a 20mm ring of bike inner-tube and fit it around your two pieces of wood and slide your (business)cards and/or cash into it.

Thanks for checking out this instructable all the way to the end and please comment or ask any questions that you might have :)

Woodworking Contest 2017

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest 2017