Make the Perfect Compact Tool Bag for $20




Introduction: Make the Perfect Compact Tool Bag for $20

A tool case slim enough to slip into my laptop bag was all I wanted. Yet all I could find was a little too big and way too pricey. If you search for a technicians tool case, for example, you'll find these start at $100 and they only go up from there. I'll show you how to make a compact and durable soft-sided tool case for only $20.

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Step 1: What You Need



  • Scissors
  • Rivet gun
  • Rivets and washers (I used 1/8" x 5/16" rivets)
  • Glue gun
  • Soldering iron
  • Marker or chalk


2 hours

Step 2: Turn Bag Inside Out

  • Grab the tools you wish to store in your bag and set aside.
  • Take the bag, unzip the largest compartment, and turn the bag inside out.
  • You'll find thin nylon pockets on each side. Cut them out.

Step 3: Glue the Storage Sleeves

Each side of the bag is a little different. One has a couple extra pockets, the other has a strap going across. Each of these things are going to hide the rivets in the end product. The next part is going to focus on the bag side with the strap.

  • Cut the elastic band into two 3 foot lengths.
  • Glue one of the bands onto one edge, then drape over the bag.
    • The top of the elastic should be about 1/2 - 3/4 inch below the bottom of the zipper. This will ensure the rivets will line up with the strap on the other side of the bag. The strap will hide the rivets.
  • Lay out the tools and mark the spots between them on the elastic.
    • Keep in mind that the glue will spread, so keep about a 3/4 inch between each tool.
    • For larger tools, such as a multimeter, make a little slack in the elastic. But for most tools, the band laying flat should have plenty of give.
  • Glue the strap down at each of the lines you marked, top to bottom, as well as the other panel edge. The fourth picture here shows the amount of glue I used.

Step 4: Rivet the Sleeves

Rivet the top of the elastic band at each bead of glue you laid down. This will prevent the band from pulling apart.

  • Cut a pilot hole for your rivet. it should penetrate both layers of the bag but not the strap on the outer shell.
    • For this, I used a finely tipped soldering iron as my hot knife.
  • Place rivet in hole and pop it into place using a rivet gun.
    • Use backing plates, or washers, with the rivets on both sides. This will prevent the rivets from pulling out.

Step 5: Add Bonus Layer of Tool Storage

Now you should have the band glued and riveted in place with a bunch of slack hanging off one end. Fold that back over and glue on top of the tool storage we just created. This accomplishes two things: One, it hides the chalk marks as well as your rivets. Two, it creates more usable storage.

  • Mark each side of the rivet where the glue will go.
    • The glue will spread. So, with rivet on center, leave approximately 2 inches between marks.
  • Glue at the marks.
  • Trim excess elastic band with scissors.

Step 6: Repeat Steps 4 and 5 on the Other Side

This other side is pretty much the same. Only on this side, the rivets will be hidden inside the extra pocket, instead of the strap.

Step 7: Re-Invert Bag, Put Tools in It

There you have it. You now have a tool case that is literally the only one like it in the world! It's customized to your liking, affordable, and durable. I used the first iteration daily for 10 months with no issues whatsoever. The one you see here I made for the purposes of this Instructable.

Thanks for reading!

1 Person Made This Project!


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6 Discussions


4 years ago

nice idea but why oh why ? Did you have to send the video into meltdown?

Jin Man
Jin Man

Reply 4 years ago

? Wut u mean


Reply 4 years ago

I like to watch video at a normal speed in order to see just how an item is made. You speeded it up so that I could not actually follow the instructable. So it spoiled it for me. That is what I mean by meltdown.
Sorry, but that was what lost me. Good idea overall. Not all people appreciate the 'arty' film maker.

Jin Man
Jin Man

Reply 4 years ago

Thanks for the feedback. The arty comment made me lol. You were right, the video was too fast, so replaced it with a "normal" speed version. Enjoy.


4 years ago

Very neat design and well executed!


4 years ago

Excellent idea!