How to Make a Hacker's Wallet V.1.2 Using Reclaimed Materials




About: I am a freelance design engineer and drummer. My business site is at and is often concerned with appropriate technologies, open source design and design for sustainability.

This document will show you how to make a Hacker's Wallet, a wallet made from recyclates that is easy to make, repair and hack. The project is housed at .

Features in this version:
A long pocket for UK bank notes with a small opening at the bottom.
Two pockets suitable for several standard credit card sized cards.
Tough and durable for daily use.
Translucent for viewing the contents from the outside.
Measures 105mm x 90mm when closed.
Made by local makers from locally sourced, reclaimed materials.

Updates from v1.1
* length increased to accommodate £20 note (thanks to Paul Gault).

This design is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license. You are encouraged to copy and modify, especially for commercial purposes, and are obliged to share your source similarly.

Greensteam , Zero-waste Design ,
Annalisa Simonella, Paul Gault (AKA peg)

You can buy Hacker's Wallets from the sites listed here .

Step 1: What You Need.

For one wallet you will need:

Electrical/insulation tape - This comes in a variety of bright colours such as these value packs from Maplin . Good quality tape (thicker, cleanly finished at the edges, not too gooey) is a joy to work with but is not essential.

Some reclaimed thin, tough translucent material (see sizes in step 2) - The printed circuit acetate found in computer keyboards is ideal, but hard to get in bulk. I have also used old acetate maps, old window blind material, or what looked like waterproofing membrane. The translucency allows you to see the items inside the wallet from the outside, so again is optional, opaque stuff is also fine.

The template downloadable in the zip below, or from here - it is basically two rectangles. There's also a great quick assembly guide below drawn by Annalisa Simonella, includeed in the zip. See the Readme file for format details.

A sewing machine and tough thread - upholstery thread is ideal, or thick cotton thread, or a polymer based thread.


A craft knife and new blade.

A straight edge and cutting mat, or a laser cutter.

A small piece of scrap cardboard or plastic. (~ 50mm square)

Step 2: Cut the Material to Size.

If you are making wallets in bulk and have access to a laser cutter, then laser cutting the parts from the template file will save a lot of time.

Otherwise, good old manual cutting is also good. Mark out the parts to be cut in fine marker on your material using a ruler. Cut using a craft knife and straight edge or a large pair of scissors.
If you are making a batch of wallets, cut out templates in card or thicker plastic, and draw around them.

Each wallet comprises an outer part, A, measuring 105mm x 181mm and an inner part, B, measuring 100mm x 276mm.

Step 3: Prepare the Inner.

Fold the inner (B) along the two folds marked on the template. The folds are each 50mm in from their nearest edge. These will form the card pockets of the wallet.

Take your tape and cut a length of at least 70mm*. Apply to the top of one of the pocket flaps as shown. The tape needs to overhang the top edge by half its width, and over the end of the flap by 5-10mm. rub to ensure the tape is well stuck down.
Flip part B over and fold the tape along its length over the edge of the flap and back surface and rub down all the way to the edges.

Repeat this process for the top of the flap on the other side.

Trim off the excess tape around the outside edges with sharp scissors.

Sew along the taped edges, about 3-5mm from the edge with a short (~2mm) straight stitch. double back, and double back again on your stitching at the open end of the pocket to ensure agood fastening.
Trim off the excess thread close to the stitching.

* Tip: insulation tape can be torn by hand with a little practice. However, it leaves a decidedly frilly edge, so use scissors for the ends that will be visible.

Step 4: Prepare the Outer

Tape along the top long edge of part A, allowing some tape to overhang the ends. Again let the tape overhang the top by half its width and fold it over the edge and stick to the reverse side, sealing the edge.

If you are a very precise maker, save this edge for sewing later. If not, sew along this edge now as before.

Cut a length of tape about 30mm long and apply in the centre of the bottom edge as shown. Allow it to overhang, then fold back over to the seal edge as before. You do not need to sew the edge.

Step 5: Join the Inner and Outer.

Place the outer (A) with the face that you want to be visible facing up, and the long taped edge at the top.

Apply a length of tape sticky side down to the right hand edge, overhanging by half along its length but do not fold over yet.

Flip A over so that the taped side is no on the left, sticky side up. Place B to the left with the pockets facing down and the sewn and taped edges at the top.

bring B over to meet A. These need to be lined up at their bottom corners, with a little gap (~1mm) all the way up the taped edge. Rub to stick down.

Flip over the whole assembly and repeat, adding tape in the same way to the other side.

Flip the whole assembly over again so that the tape is sticky side up. Fold B over onto A and line up the free edges, so that they meet at their bottom corners, as shown. You will have to pull B so tht they meet up as it is 5mm shorter to allow the wallet to easily close. Fold over the tape and rub to seal.

Trim off the excess tape.

Step 6: Close the Bottom Edges and Sew.

Cut a 70mm length of tape and apply to the bottom edges of the pockets, similarly to step 3, however allow the tape to enclose bothe the inner and outer this time. Trim off the excess tape at the outside edges.

Sew along the bottoms of the pockets and sides of the wallet, in 'L' shaped paths as shown. Again triple the stitching for about 10mm at each end of the stitching, for strength. If you precise, and you skipped sewing the top edge in step 4, all these edges can be sewn in one neat stitch along a 'C' shaped path as shown.
Trim of the excess thread close to the stitching.

Step 7: Finishing

Precisely fold the whole assembly in half and crease. This may not work very well if you are using a rubbery material, but will soon work its way into shape with use.

Take a craft knife with a new blade and very carefully slice the 4 pieces of tape at the pocket openings up to the stitching, as shown. It is helpful to lift the ends of the tape and insert a small piece of scrap card or plastic into the pocket to cut against.

Step 8: Adapt, Hack, Improve and Share

This is an open source product, so improve it, publish your results and source, and comment. This can all be done on the development wiki at .



    • Jewelry Challenge

      Jewelry Challenge
    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure
    • Tape Contest

      Tape Contest

    20 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Here is the version I made using glossy-paper from some advertisement that got sent home to me thru the mail. It's going to be interesting to see when it will break but otherwise I am very happy with the result :)

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! It has worked pretty great so far; however the paper has started to tear a bit in the middle of the wallet (see image). I will probably make a new version with tape in the middle aswell.


    I have not yet tested this, but, in replacing the cardboard with a piece of sheet metal sanded/ protected with tape, or even just by adding few layers of aluminum foil, you could make this RFID-proof .


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I feel like having a transparent wallet might not be a great idea, but I guess people know there's money in it anyway... you might want to keep small denominations on the outside, though.
    My tyvek USPS envelope wallet is getting pretty worn, so I might have to get a hold of an old keyboard and make one of these. Have you had any problems with the tape peeling up at the edges and getting dirty?
    Nice instructable!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    No, the electrical tape takes very well to acetate-like material. It's not so good with certain woven materials I've tried, definitely the smoother the better.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I've actually been taking apart a few keyboards in my design lab at work and have been looking for something to turn the printed circuit into. Great idea! If I want to adapt this into a class and credit & link back to you, would that be okay? I work at a nonprofit science/tech museum.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    That is all within the ethos of open design, of course. Please credit all the authors, greensteam, annalisa and myself, and, strictly speaking, all the other related wallet designs out there!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    These are really beautiful! and functional! Great job!!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent and simple idea. Have you ever thought of making other accessories? How durable would you say these are?

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The one I'm using I've had for about 6 months and is enduring well. A little crumpled around the corners.
    I would expect the wallet to last well for at least a year and if anything to fail at the connections rather than the material, os should be easily fixed with some re-taping and sewing.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    You could make the edges a bit stronger by putting pieces of wire, or even parachute cord, inside the edges, under the tape. Then you could sew (with dental floss, much stronger) around the wire through the tape and material. That would make the edges stiffer and the stitching less likely to tear, without making the wallet much more complex or ruining it's low profile. just an idea. ILPUG


    I didn't quite get the instructions-- Where do I get this template you speak of? I checked the ZIP and didn't see one. Oh well. I got the basic idea and tried it out, sort of jerry rigging it. It looks really cool anyway! Great source of inspiration. :D

    7 replies

    Sorry about that. In the zip file, the .ai and .svg files entitled 'hacker's wallet v1.0' are the layouts/template. The .ai is for Illustrator CS4 and the .svg is v1.1., openable in Inkscape.

    Oh, okay, gotcha. I couldn't open either of those, so that explains why I couldn't find it. Either way, I sort of got the idea from the pictures and made one that works, so I'm happy. It looks awesome.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    PDF is a good idea, accessible to everyone without having to rely on shared programs


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    What do you mean ``shared programs''? I understand objecting to the .ai, but .svg can be opened in Firefox (3.5+?; free), Google Chrome (free), most recent web browsers, Inkscape (free), can be imported into GIMP (free) and a number of other common programs.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry, lukeshu, I was talking in general.
    People visit Instructables from really different backgrounds -network connections, system and age of their computers, etc- besides having or not the same programs as the author.
    Also, some people either aren't allowed to install programs in the computer they are using, are not comfortable having to do it, or simply don't know how to do it. Uploading PDFs makes the document easier to read in many of these cases.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Have updated to v1.1 with a .pdf layout and fixed the boundaries on the.svg so hopefully they are more fully viewable (works in my Firefox).
    Thanks for your feedback!