How to Make a Custom Set of Playing Cards - Approach 2

In How to make a custom set of playing cards - Approach 1 I presented the approach I currently use to make playing cards for games I am prototyping. I think it is the best approach, but it is not the cheapest. This instructable shows a previous approach that is cheap, easy and surprisingly playable. The only real downside is that the area for customization is quite small.

Step 1: Assemble Your Supplies

For this instructable you will need:
1) Your card designs
2) Cheap pack of playing cards
3) Mailing labels

The playing cards can be picked up at the dollar store (2 packs for $1 at my local Dollar Tree) as can be the mailing labels. That means you can create 112 unique cards (these decks have 4 jokers) for $2 in supplies.

Step 2: Printing the Cards

For this step you have a few options.
The first is to use Excel or a similar spreadsheet as shown in the template below. This enabled me to print vertically on the labels (side ways) matching the orientation of the card.
The second is to use a word processor, but you may find it hard to do vertical labels.
The last choice is to simply write on the labels by hand. This gives you the greatest degree of flexibility but the most work as well.
NOTE: You could also use the nanDeck program mentioned in my other instructable which would make the vertical printing much easier.

Step 3: Finish the Cards

The final step of course is to add the labels. The finished results are below.
The good news is that the cards shuffle and handle well.
The good/bad news is that the labels can not be removed which means that the deck will last but you can't easily change the cards. Your only real option is to stick a new label on top.
Which brings us to the bad news. The labels had a little thickness. You don't notice this with a few cards, but when you have a lot of cards you will notice it. This get's worse of course with labels on top of labels.



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    16 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I made some great Game of Thrones themed playing cards thanks to a free downloadable printable from they also have a box and instructions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    A good place to do your cards without being too expensive is they're a professional manufacturer with no minimum order. I've been doing a lot of designs with them.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    You could create your images and then just upload it onto online playing card makers such as which is the best that I've come across yet. I make them for my school.


    11 years ago on Step 1

    I work in a casino in Vancouver, BC, Canada. If you ask the person at Guest Services, they will give you a box of cards, which includes 12 decks, for free.

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    They do that because they probably feel guilty about taking all of your money.


    11 years ago on Step 3

    Cool. But could you show us how to make a cover box for the cards? It would be pretty usefull. Thanks.


    I did this so that I could prototype a new game I was developing call "I, Detective". In general someone would do this if they were making a new game, or recreating an old one that was missing cards.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Could you not just print off paper with something on it in the size and shape and then glue/tape them on? You'd have a lot more freedom with customization, to the point that you could even make your own Magic cards or something if you wanted. I don't understand your labels, that's the thing - is that your own game with crimes and stuff?

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Just read your other instructable (Approach 1). It's a much better idea. Slightly more expensive, but one shouldn't be nit-pickety about a few quarters.