DIY Pocket Protector




About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...

Maybe I've spent too much time at Instructables World Headquarters, but I woke up this morning with a sudden urge to make myself a pocket protector.

Upon seeing how cool my pocket protector was, everyone else at Instructables requested that I make some for them.

In short, making your own pocket protector will turn you into a very popular person.

Disclaimer: Melting vinyl or plastic may be toxic and should be done in a well-ventilated area. Do this at your own risk.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need...

- a 3-ring binder with a vinyl cover (as pictured)
- or a vinyl term paper cover

- a plastic bag sealer
- or a soldering iron and some wax paper

- a laser cutter
- or ink jet printer

Step 2: Start Cutting Up the Binder

Cut off one side of the binder along the fold.

Trim excess plastic around the sealed edges.

Step 3: Remove the Cardboard

Cut off the edge on the side where the joint was.

Pull the cardboard out through this opening.

(Don't do like I've done in the picture. See picture comments for more info.)

Step 4: Cut the Vinyl Some More

Measure 3-3/4" in across the length of the long-edge of the cover (the edge that is still sealed shut).

At this measurement, cut across the vinyl so that you produce a folded-over strip that is 3-3/4" wide and about 10" long.

Cut 3" off the strip so that it is 7" long (folded in half), but do not remove the side where the edge is still sealed.

Next, cut away the sealing joint that runs lengthwise down the strip.

You should now be left with a folded strip that is 7" long, a little under 3-3/4" wide and is folded over at the bottom of the shorter side.

Step 5: Fold.

Pick one side, measure 2-1/4" from the top and evenly fold it over to make a crease.

Once you are sure the fold is correct, run your thumb back and forth over this crease a couple of times while applying a strong pressure.

Step 6: Seal

Fold back the flap that you just made and turn on your heat-sealer.

Place the edge of your protector on the heat sealer so that the edge of the heat sealer lines up to the crease that you just made (see pictures).

Seal for three seconds (or as necessary. I recommend doing test seals.)

If you are using a soldering iron, sandwich the protector between the waxy side of two sheets of wax paper. Trace the edge of the protector from the crease that you folded to the bottom crease using the soldering iron. This may take some testing before you get it right.

Step 7: Some Final Modifications

Finish it up by trimming about an inch off the back side of the pocket protector (the side that you didn't fold or seal).

Carefully and slowly round of the corners of the top side and the front flap with a pair of scissors.

Trim any excess material that may be sticking out from the side of the case.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Lastly, customize.

I decorated mine with a Epilog laser cutter (settings: Raster cut. Speed = 100%. Power = 30%).

You can also try running it through an ink jet printer. However, you might have had better luck printing on the pocket protector material from the onset (before you did any folding, sealing or cutting).



    • Tape Contest

      Tape Contest
    • Gardening Contest

      Gardening Contest
    • Arduino Contest 2019

      Arduino Contest 2019

    32 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I was super excited about this project but using a soldering iron makes the edges all black and charred :( Oh well.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    No! Embedded linux! XP doesn't work so great on embedded platforms... and I think it no longer makes it "embedded", as it can then do anything...


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh? How dare you say that about duct tape oh wait that means more for me. My precious


    10 years ago on Introduction

    hahaha I love this, thanks randofo!! I got me thinkin of making just a faux pocket protector and wear it as an ID Badge holder (around the neck style like my company likes) I'm sure I can find a way to get a clear side in the front somehow (clear vinyl binder + iron to melt it all into 1 piece?? idk) we'll have to see but thanks for the great idea!!

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Just be careful when ironing it, heating vinyl can produce chlorine gas which can be lethal.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Oh how i wish i had seen this before the "nerd rodeo" party i went to a few months back. Sigh. I had all the accessories except a pocket protector. If you think about it a nerd rodeo is about the best themed party that anyone ever thought of. I knew you'd agree.

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Nerd rodeo. That sounds pretty awesome. I wish I got invited to nerd rodeos. Was there a mechanical bull?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I would guess to print on it, you can cut it to an 8.5" x 11" sheet (the size of normal paper) and then play with your printer material settings and just try to send it through and see what happens.