Magic Cardboard Wallet (Super Easy)




This fun little wallet is super easy to make, uses very few materials, and is a splendiferous way to impress your friends. (Yes, "splendiferous" is an actual word. Look it up.)

ᴅɪsᴄʟᴀɪᴍᴇʀ: ᴡᴀʟʟᴇᴛ ɪs ɴᴏᴛ ᴀᴄᴛᴜᴀʟʟʏ ᴍᴀɢɪᴄ. ᴅᴇɢʀᴇᴇ ᴏғ ғʀɪᴇɴᴅs' ɪᴍᴘʀᴇssᴇᴅɴᴇss ɴᴏᴛ ɢᴜᴀʀᴀɴᴛᴇᴇᴅ.

Step 1: What You'll Need

✘ Cardboard Box

I used an old Columbia shoe box, but if you don't have a box of your own that you're willing to cut up, I found these great ones on Amazon for a mere $1,387.12 + tax:

✘ Ruler
Or a tape measure.

✘ Glue
I used Aleene's Original Tacky Glue for this particular project.

✘ Tape
Literally any kind of tape will do - masking, scotch, duct, packing, electrical; whatever the heck you wanna use.

✘ Scissors
If you're really good, you can just use the knife to cut the ribbon, but I prefer scissors.

✘ Knife
A boxcutter works best to get clean edges.

✘ Fine-tip Sharpie
All this is used for is marking measurements, so a pen or pencil will work just as well as (and probably better than) a Sharpie, but I love Sharpie's so I use them for everything :)

✘ Ribbon

The stuff I used is apparently something called grosgrain ribbon (I googled it), which is heavier and stiffer than normal ribbon.

Step 2: Getting Ready

➵ Measure and mark out four rectangles on your cardboard box, two for the inside of the wallet and two for the outside. I made mine 3" x 5," but any size will work. Use your knife to cut them out then make sure they're all pretty close in size. Try to get the edges as clean and neat as you can.

➵ Take your ribbon and cut four pieces, each about 7" long (or longer if you're making a bigger wallet).

Step 3: Put It Together

➵ Start by laying two of the cardboard rectangles side by side (these will form the inside of the wallet). Take the four pieces of ribbon and arrange two of them into an "x" on one piece of cardboard. Use the other two to make two horizontal lines near the top and bottom of the other piece of cardboard.

➵ Tuck the outermost ends of all four ribbons back behind the cardboard, and secure them with tape.

➵ Then tuck the inner ends of the ribbons beneath the opposite piece of cardboard. (Make sure that the "x" and the horizontal lines do not overlap.)

➵ Flip the whole thing over and secure the four loose ribbon ends to the cardboard with tape.

➵ After everything is in the place you want it, start untaping the ribbon ends one by one and gluing them down to the cardboard. (Make sure to pull the ribbons fairly tight before gluing them in place; you don't want a whole lot of slack.) *This will be a messy step; don't worry about making it look nice.*

Step 4: Add the Cover

➵ Spread glue over all of both pieces of cardboard.

➵ Lay the two remaining pieces of cardboard onto the glue-covered cardboard to make the outside of your wallet. (Lay something heavy on it, like a stack of books, while it dries to help it stay nice and tight.)

➵ Once the glue dries, flip it back over, and you should have something like the picture above.

Step 5: Voila!

That's it. You're finished!

If you're feeling artsy, you could decorate your wallet cover with markers or paint or a rabbit pelt or whatever you like. I liked the blue cardboard on mine and just left it as is.

Now you're ready to see it in action.

Tuck some folded bills into each side, and close it up. Open it from the other side and watch the magic happen. The bills will have mysteriously swapped places. You can also set a bill inside on top of the ribbons and close the wallet. When you open it back up from the other side, the bill will be tucked under the ribbons!

Now go out and watch people's jaws drop in dumbstruck wonder at the sight of your baffling wizardry skills. Or at the very least, stump them a little. :)

(If you liked this Instructable, go ahead and show some love by leaving a comment below or voting for me in the Cardboard Challenge contest over on the "Contests" page. Thanks!)

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17 Discussions


6 months ago

Nice little wallet to stick in back pocket while on motorcycle OR add some rare earth magnets, a little flap closure and stick to bike tank. Would be good for those rides you need cash fast for the toll booths. The idea to use leather was also a good one. Thank you for sharing :)

2 replies

6 months ago

Great ible. I have some hefty leather laying around that I think will work well.

1 reply

Reply 6 months ago

Thanks! I bet leather would look really cool; I'd love to see a picture if you end up trying it out :)


6 months ago

Very cool take on the jacob's ladder toy - nice to see the effect applied to a homemade wallet. I like it!

3 replies

Reply 6 months ago

Is a Jacob's ladder the same as click-clack blocks?


6 months ago

I made one of these in junior school nearly 60 years ago. In those days they were known as Market Traders wallets. And coincidentally, I made another just a week ago.

1 reply

6 months ago

Just put it on top ribbon and flip and money will be under ribbon.

1 reply