Introduction: The Cardboard Ukulele Case

I recently impulse bought a Ukulele(Lanikai LU-21). The Uke by itself cost me about 5500INR. It did not come with a bag or a carry case and since hard-cases for Ukulele are expensive, I decided to build one myself.

Special thanks to SYLRIG's original post on how to make a cardboard Ukulele case, I used that as reference material for my Ukulele case. You can find his original post here

The whole build will be using parts and brands available in India, hence all brand names and local names are specific to India.

The whole case cost me less than 500 rupees to build, the most expensive parts being the Glue and the brass items.

Step 1: Materials Used

Types of Glue used

  • Fevicol MR
  • Fevicol Marine
  • Glue gun

Tools Used

  • A pair of paper Scissors
  • A pair of fabric scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Hot air gun
  • An Iron Box
  • Electric Drill
  • Permanent marker
  • Ruler, pencils and erasers
  • A screwdriver
  • A Plastic paintbrush
  • Stiff plastic visiting card

Supplies Used

  • 6 ply cardboard( thickest, cleanest piece you can find)
  • Brass Hinges
  • Brass Latches
  • Brass/ Plastic suitcase handle
  • Brass Screws
  • An Old pair of Jeans
  • A Clean old T-Shirt
  • Old newspaper
  • Clothesline clips
  • Packing foam
  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • Nylon brush and scotchbrite

Step 2: Reusing the Packaging

The Uke came in a cardboard box. For simplicity reasons, I reused the cardboard box as a template.

Make a lid and a base with the thinner cardboard. This will be your skeleton of the case. The stronger cardboard pieces will be glued onto this skeleton. Ensure that you remove all the staples in the cardboard when you glue the skeleton back together.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Cardboard and Gluing

I salvagedsome 6 ply cardboard from a packing carton and decided to use the same for this build.

Prepare and cut individual pieces for the top, sides and bottom of both the lid and the base. Ensure all the measurements are accurate. Measure twice, cut once. Do not worry if you cut something out bigger, you can always trim it out or file it down with sandpaper.

Professional tip: Make the whole box with six pieces of cardboard, glue it together and then cut it out with a band-saw or a hacksaw to ensure the lid and the base align perfectly.

Fevicol Marine was used for all the gluing here since it is stronger and water resistant once dry. Once all the pieces were aligned, clamp them together with some clothesline clips and add weights on the larger sections to ensure proper adhesion with the base cardboard. Leave overnight to dry. ( A hot air gun can be used to expedite the drying process)

Once dry, dilute two parts of Fevicol marine with one part water to make a semi runny paste. Use a plastic brush and coat the whole case with it and leave to dry overnight.

Step 4: Test Fitting

Once the glue is dry test fit the box. The test fit is to ensure proper alignment and make sure you do not overlook any measurement.

Also you can decide whether or not, you like the components you purchased. In my case I realized the brass handle was a bad idea and went ahead with a plastic handle from an old suitcase.

Step 5: Test Fitting and Gluing the Foam in Place

Since I work in manufacturing, white packing foam ( EPS Foam or extruded polystyrene) is plentiful and always a waste material as it is used for cushioning and packing. I had multiple small pieces so I made a sort of a mosaic jigsaw patter, test fitted them and glued them on. For places where I needed form, I glued twice the required quantity and carved out the unnecessary parts for a proper fit.

Alternates to packing foam:

  • Sponge
  • Thermocol ( polystyrene)
  • Cloth

Step 6: Covering the Exterior of the Ukulele Case

I used a navy blue denim for the exterior. I used one full piece for the base and one full piece for the lid.

Fevicol marine works well for this process. Drop a dollop onto the cardboard, use a plastic card to spread it evenly and stretch out the denim over it to ensure proper adhesion. Once the glue has, dried a second coat of Fevicol marine, diluted with water is painted over the denim exterior with a plastic paintbrush. If you cannot find a plastic paintbrush you can use a brush from a hair dye kit, it works pretty well.

To finish off the exterior, the remaining denim edges onto the inside edge of the base and glue it in place with Fevicol. Repeat process for the lid.

Step 7: Interior Work

The interior work is similar to the cardboard cutouts. Use one piece for the base and one piece for the sides.

The method I employed was tuck and glue rather than glue the whole fabric because Fevicol spoils the soft feel of a T-Shirt. A glue gun is used for all the gluing since it is the most effective. Pull the piece over the edge, put in a straight line of glue from the glue gun, between the foam and the cardboard and then press together for a good fit. Clothesline clips can be used to ensure adhesion. Hot glue dries very quickly, so the above process needs to be quick.

Step 8: Reinforcing the External Connection Points

Though the cardboard is sturdy on it's own, it is encouraged to reinforce points of heavy wear and tear. The durability of the case would improve exponentially.

A 5 millimeter thick piece of plywood would do well. Cut out a strip and place it between the foam and the cardboard inside. Glue it in place. Drill pilot holes for the screws and then screw in the latches. Follow the same procedure for the hinges and the handle.

Step 9: Finishing and Test Fitting

Interior: Make sure the Uke sits snugly and there is not much movement inside. The neck needs to be supported appropriately

Exterior: Slight misalignment due to different shapes of the lid and the base is to be expected.

I used an iron box and pressure to heat up the offending edges and train them to the proper shape.

Step 10: Finishing Touches and Things to Improve

Use a nylon brush and scotchbrite to rough up the exterior to give a more softer denim like feel.

This step is necessary as the Fevicol significantly hardens the exterior of the denim.

Things to improve:

  • Should have ordered the hasp latches well in advance. I ordered them from Aliexpress towards the end of this project and they took well over 3 months to arrive
  • Make a full box and then cut out the lid with a saw
  • Add corner protectors of some kind using corners off plastic takeout boxes.
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