Introduction: Transparent Document Folders

About: I like making things out of items that would have otherwise been discarded. Check out my other projects!

I noticed that my fiancé uses transparent envelope-like document folders frequently.  (Both as a teacher at school and for personal use.)  They seem to be slightly larger than a letter size sheet of paper and have a fold-over portion that fastens with a plastic snap.  I have no idea what they are really called - I even flipped through an office supply catalog looking for a name.

I decided to use the circuit sheets from discarded computer keyboards (the same material from my wallet Instructable) to make some unique envelopes for her.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

This is a quick and fairly easy project that doesn't require specialized tools or skills. 
  • At least 2 keyboards
  • clear packing tape
  • Ruler or square
  • Scissors or a blade and cutting board
  • hook and loop adhesive pads
I prefer using a straight edge and hobby knife but this could be done using a fine-tipped marker and scissors. 

For the keyboards I tried to use out dated ones with a DIN connector or the more recent and not quite obsolete PS/2 connector.  USB keyboards would also work but it is easier to find them a good home. Definitely stay away from the "split" keyboards because they don't have enough material without interruptions to work very well for this project.

I found a stack at the thrift store for $1 each and went home with a few organ-donor keyboards.

Step 2: Cut the Main Pieces

Cut 4 pieces that are 12 inches long and 4.75 inches wide.  If you keep the sheets together right out of the keyboard you can cut these large pieces while they are still fused together.  If you want, you can make sure that those two pieces stay oriented that way so that when the envelope is empty, or isn't full with full-size-sheets, each half of the folder will have circuits that still appear to be completed between the front and the back of the envelope.

Step 3: Tape the Center Seam

Using a length of the packing tape, cover the seam in the center of the two halves.  I found that this worked well if i taped the pieces down to a table.  Fold over the ends of the tape at the top and bottom and then put a shorter strip on the other side of the two combined sheets.

Step 4: Make the Second Half

Repeat the previous steps and make the second half.  I endeavored to have the outside edges line up and didn't worry too much about variance in the center seam.  If you kept the pieces "fused" earlier you'll definitely need to break them apart now.

Step 5: Tape the Bottom and Sides

Use the tape to seal the bottom and sides - both inside and outside.  If you only do the outside, the tape will be prone to collecting detritus. 

Step 6: Cut Out the Top Flap

Using the actual dimensions of the opening you can measure and cut a triangular flap for the envelope.

Step 7: Wrap Envelope Flap Edges

I decided to wrap tape around the edges of the top flap.  This is optional though.  Tape the two short sides of the triangle.

Step 8: Attach the Flap

Put the flap on the envelope in a closed position, tape the seam and then open it and tape the seam with the flap open.

Step 9: Affix the Velcro Closures

I centered the closure on the tip of the flap, stuck the opposite velcro piece onto the first and then carefully closed the envelope to make sure they lined up well.

Step 10: Enjoy Your Transparent, Geeky, Homemade Envelope!

This envelope may have the highest ratio of appreciativeness:price of any gift i have given. 

Protecting your documents in your bag, being able to glance at details without opening ("our flight is at 7:10 PM"), and having it be a homemade item makes this one of my most practical projects ever!

I just realized that making one of these the size of a regular envelope could be used as a reusable mailing envelope.  You could put the address and return address on the outside and stick the stamp on the outside as well - or even have a cutout that allowed the cancellation to go through.  Hmmm....

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