Introduction: Make a Custom Tablet Case for Under $20!
When I bought my Kindle fire, I could not find a case that suited my needs for less than fifty dollars. Frankly, the cases that I had to choose from were not nearly cool enough. So the creative juices started flowing, and with a little research I came up with a design for a rigid case that would allow me to view my kindle from multiple angles. Perfect for watching a movie in bed or on a plane.
***This Instructable is scaleable to any sized tablet. There are a few details that will be different, but the basic principles can be applied to any sized tablet.***
Side note: Gorilla glue was essential to this project due to its ability to bond with metal, cardboard, rubber and nylon webbing!
I made my case from aluminum, but any material that is able to be folded and glued, can work!
Aluminum (or any medium you wish to use. I.E: leather, plastic, rubber, steel)
A logo or design
Step 1: Cutting the Cardboard
First, we must figure out the dimensions of the tablet.
For the cardboard covers and kick stand:
1. Measure the length and the width of the tablet.
2. Depending on how thick the device is add another 3/4 (for a kindle) to 1 1/4 inches on to all sides.
3. Using your straight edge, trace the measured dimensions on your sheet of cardboard.
4. Using great precision, cut out the cardboard rectangle. This must be accurate as it will form the basis for the whole project. Right angles are imperative. Make 4 of these.
5. Next, cut the width dimension in half and trace and cut out two long thin pieces that will be half as wide as the larger pieces.
All of the pieces must be exactly the same size all the way around.
You should end up with 4 pieces that will become the front and back covers, and two pieces that will form the kick stand piece.
Tips: Use thin, but rigid cardboard. do not use corrugated cardboard if you can help it. I used the front and back covers of a three ring binder. Use a sharp blade for cutting. A square or protractor can aid in getting the angles perfect.
Step 2: The Front Cover
Using 2 of the large pieces of cardboard, we will begin making the front cover. For my aluminum, I used old 11"x17" plates from a local printing company. Most companies will recycle the aluminum, so they should be able to sell for cheap or maybe even just give them to you! Get the cleanest plates you can! If you have a larger tablet than the kindle, you will need larger plates.
1. Lay the two pieces of cardboard out on the aluminum end to end. Make sure the aluminum is shiny side down (or the side you want to be the cover) Leave a gap in the middle of the cardboard equal to twice the thickness of one piece of cardboard. This will become the rounded bottom edge on the finished cover.
2. No need to measure here. Just make sure the pieces are squared up and the gap in the middle is even all the way across. Then trace the outline of the cardboard onto the aluminum. The traced lines will become the fold lines.
3. Ok, now you'll need to measure. Measure 3/4 of an inch from every edge, and connect the lines to create a 3/4 inch outline around the cardboard.
4. Using your straight edge and a sharp blade, carefully and lightly cut along the outside lines. Only push hard enough to deeply scratch the aluminum.
5. Next, Gently apply even pressure and fold the aluminum along the scratched edges. Rock the piece back and forth until it breaks off. Do this to all edges.
6. Next draw a right angle "pointing" into the gap between the cardboard. Leave a little space between the lines angle and the cardboard. about a tenth of an inch on both sides.
7. Draw a line perpendicular to the corner of the cardboard on all corners. Again leave a little gap between the line and the corner of the cardboard.
8. Cut along the angled lines and remove the pieces. This will make the edges fold neatly together.
Step 3: Folding the Aluminum
This step can be tricky. You don't want to crease the aluminum or it will break and ruin your perfectly smooth edged look.
1. Choose an edge to be the spine side of the case. You will need to fold both flaps on this side over onto the cardboard. Do so with even pressure. I used a scrap piece of cardboard to aid me in doing this. Try to fold it as tightly as possible to the cardboard, but don't crease it!
2. Cut off one flap opposite the folded "spine side" of the case. It should look like picture labeled "2."
3. Now its time for the logo! Print your logo, or draw it in the reverse image, and arrange it so it is centered on the side that still has both flaps. The fold between the pieces of cardboard will be the bottom of the case. Once it is centered, tape it to the aluminum. Using a straight edge (If your logo has straight lines) cut out the logo. This step it somewhat self explanatory. Just make sure your logo is oriented correctly before cutting!!
4. I wanted my logo to show black so I cut a small piece of plastic front an old folder and glued it to the cardboard, behind the logo. It is stuck to the cardboard, so there won't be any bumps under the aluminum.
Tips- Make sure to keep all surface clean. Especially when the outside of the case is face down, like when cutting the logo out.
Step 4: Folding the Cover
1. Slide the cardboard back in to the aluminum. Make sure the side with the logo backing is in place!
2. Using a scrap piece of cardboard, apply pressure to the bottom of one side of the case and slowly fold it up. Make sure to keep pressure on the piece on the table so it doesn't slide.
3. Continue to fold the piece over onto the other side. Remember, the fold is the bottom of the case, so make it look nice!
4. Glue the flaps with a little bead of gorilla glue. be sure to follow all gorilla glue instructions!
Nice Job! Now set this whole panel aside.
Step 5: The Tablet Panel
This is a big step. Buckle up.
This panel will hold your tablet and form the most essential piece of the case. This back of this panel will connect to the kickstand panel, and the side will need to connect to the front panel, both connections use webbing.
1. Follow the steps for the front panel and get your kindle panel to this stage.
2. Take the piece of cardboard that will become the back of the panel, and measure a rectangle that is 1/4" wide and centered. The length of the rectangle should leave about 3/4 of an inch on the top and bottom of the cardboard. (so you don't cut all the way through)
3. Using your box cutter, carefully cut out the skinny rectangle and place the cut out piece to the side. (for now)
4. Take the back side of your panel and cut out a strip of aluminum just a little bit skinnier than the slit made in the cardboard. Make sure the two cuts line up perfectly!!
5. Cut a piece of 2" webbing to the length of the slits you just made in the cardboard and the aluminum. (Use the lighter to melt the edge of the webbing where the cut was made, so it doesn't fray.) Thread the webbing sideways into the aluminum.
6. Next, place the cardboard back into the aluminum frame and pull the webbing into the cardboard slit. Allow for a little lip of the webbing to lay down inside of the slit.
7. Apply a bead of gorilla glue along the webbing, gluing it to the aluminum and the cardboard.
8. Take the cardboard cut out from the slit and place it back over the top of the webbing. Glue it in place. **It is important not to use too much glue at this point.** A little gorilla glue goes a long way!.
9. Now fold the panel just as we did on the first panel. Using a stick guide to bend the aluminum. Place a small bead of gorilla glue along the edges and place a weight on it to dry.
1b. Place your kindle in the center of the front panel and draw two lines, one on either side of the top and bottom of the kindle. The lines should come about 1/8" from the top of the cardboard.
2b. Cut out slits where the short lines were drawn. Cut two lengths of bike inner tube that is about twice the width of the kindle. Place the cardboard back into the aluminum and poke the slits in the aluminum as well.
3b. Thread the inner tube through the slits on the top and bottom of the panel. Pull the inner tube all the way through so the tube lays flat against the inside of the panel (where the kindle will sit.) Make sure to thread the tube through both the cardboard and the aluminum piece. The pictures do not show this!!!
4b. Glue the flaps of the inner tube to the back of the front panel. Glue both the top and bottom pieces of tube. These strips of rubber will hold your kindle in place, so make sure they are snug.
5b. Once the inner tube is glued, place a weight on it to ensure it remains tight. Allow it to dry.
6b. Now gently fold the panel together and fold all flaps in. You may need to cut notches in to the top flap for the innertube. (fig. A)
7b. Glue the panel together,and place a heavy weight on it.
Step 6: The Kick Stand Panel
In this step we will make the thin panel that will allow the two larger panels to hinge on the webbing in such a way that you can prop the kindle up for viewing. This step will also cover the assembly of all of the panels to make your awesome homemade scaleable tablet case!
1. Use the half wide cardboard rectangles we cut out in step one.
2. Using the same principles covered in the panel construction, measure and cut out aluminum to enclose the cardboard.
3. Cut the corners off so there is no extra metal when the flaps are folded in.
4. Fold the panels in and glue all sides to the cardboard.
5. Do the same for the other piece. You should have two identical pieces of cardboard covered aluminum.
6. Once the other panels are COMPLETELY DRY, place them on the table. Place the Tablet Panel face down on the table with the webbing facing up. Place the front panel face up next to it. Next place one of the skinny panels in between the two and line it up so that the webbing from both pieces is sitting on the skinny panel. Glue the webbing to the skinny panel.
7. Place the other skinny panel on top of the other skinny panel, sandwiching the webbing between the two skinny panels.
8. Pile on the weight, and weight for it to dry. (ha.. sometimes I think I'm funny.)
Step 7: Almost Done...
One more thing that is not shown. Cut a strip of webbing that is just shorter than the case and glue it to the edge of the inside cover. This will act as a rest for the kindle when it is in kickstand mode, so it wont just slide flat. It will also protect the kindle from the aluminum.
Congrats!! Enjoy the fruits of your labor! Show it off you just made your own kindle case on the cheap!