Introduction: Mini Explorers Travel Case

About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with!

All good explorers need to be able to document where they have been, and what they have seen!

My son loves to explore, and always carries a notebook around with him so he can draw and write about what he finds. I wanted to make something where he could put all the things he would need when out and about.

After some thought, I decided to go with a slim, wooden case. This way he would be able to use it to lean on when he’s taking notes. I also wanted a way that he could sling it over his shoulder when his trekking along, so I included a strap as well.

The trickiest part was to work out how I was going to make the inside storage section. The solution I came up with was to use some 10mm dense foam and cut out the sections. This worked a treat, and by adding a couple of magnets, the cover and foam the case locks together.

So, without further ado - here's how to make one...

Step 1: Parts and Tools


1. Ply wood (I used 5mm ply wood but you could use thinner if you wanted to)

2. Piece of scrap material (needs to be strong and dense)

3. Foam board (10mm)

4. Things to put into the case – sharpener, pencils, rubber, notebook

5. Small, strong magnets

6. Eye Hooks

7. Bag strap (or rope)


1. All-purpose glue

2. Table saw (or any type of saw that will work with cutting ply wood)

3. Stanley knife

4. Ruler

5. Marker

6. super glue

Step 2: Cutting and Painting the Wooden Cover

Firstly, you need to decide on how big you

want to make the case. I wanted mine to be big enough so my son could use it as a leaning board when his drawing / writing


1. Decide on the size of the case and cut 2 equal pieces of ply wood

2. Cut another piece of ply wood the same length. The width should be 2 mm larger than the foam board. This will be the spine.

3. Paint with clear varnish and leave to dry.

Step 3: Adding the Spine

1. Using a sharp Stanley knife. Cut a length of fabric. This should be long enough to go right around the spine.

2. Glue the fabric to one side of the case as shown below.

3. Next, put the foam inside the case and place the spine against the edge of the case. Glue the spine and other side of the case to the fabric. This will make the outside of the spine. You will also need to glue the fabric to the inside of the case as well.

Step 4: Adding the Spine (Inside the Book)


1. Once the glue has dried on the fabric, open the case up.

2. Cut the fabric so there are 2 long sections on the top and bottom of the book. What you want to do is to remove the fabric where it would sit on the spine. You do this so the case will open and close correctly. Make sure that you leave some fabric at the end (where the spine and covers are) as this will be folded over and glued later

3. You need to glue the spine to the bottom board of the case. Do this and leave to dry

4. Next, glue the fabric straps to the inside of the book as shown.

Step 5: Adding the Foam Insert


1. If you haven’t done so already, cut the foam board to size.

2. On the side that will stick to the back of the case, mark-out the sections that you need to cut. It’s up to you what you want to put into your case and where it’s to go.

Take your time with this part; you want to make sure that the cuts are clean and straight. Use a ruler and make sure that your blade is sharp. The foam board is very easy to cut so don’t rush.

Step 6: Adding Magnets and Gluing


1. Next step is to add some strong magnets to the corners of the cases lid and foam board.

2. With an exacto knife or Stanley knife, carefully cut out the foam so the magnets sit flush.

3. Do the same to the case lid. A sharp blade will be able to cut through the wood pretty easily. Again, take your time to ensure you don’t cut the wrong part!

4. Use some super-glue and attach the magnets

5. Next you can glue the foam board to the bottom of the case.

6. On the cover of the case, I decided to glue a picture. You can leave this blank if you want but I wanted to cover-up the fabric.

Step 7: Adding a Strap


1. Add a couple of small eye screws to the spine – one on each end. IThe eye screws that I had were a little small so I just just a couple of hooks which I bent over

2. Next find a thin strap – you could just use one from an old bag or make one out of some rope etc. I went with some string but will probably keep a look out for a second hand leather bag and take the strap off this.

3. Add some foam off-cut as a shoulder pad.

4. Attach the strap to each end of the eye hooks and determine how long it needs to be by measuring it on someone.

5. Done.

Step 8: Go and Test It Out!

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