MakeKit: a Boredom Kit for Makers




About: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

This is an on-the-go kit of general making and fixing supplies.

Occasionally I find myself away from home and looking to pass the time in the way I prefer most: Making and fixing stuff!

If you're like me and are inherently driven to tinker, fix, and create, you ought to put together a MakeKit for yourself, customized to match your interests. Throw it in your car or bag, and always have something to do!

Read on to see how I made mine and what I included. Hope you enjoy this!

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Step 1: Items Not Included

For me, a decent multi-tool (like a Leatherman) and a lighter are essential tools to have in conjunction with a kit like this.

However, I did not physically include them in my kit since I tend to use these items on a daily basis. Having them stuck in a box like this just wasn't practical.

The intention was to include supplies I would want in order to create things with "found materials" . . . like sticks, paper, cardboard, soda cans, etc. Conveniently, the basic supplies in this kit are incredibly useful for general fixing of existing objects as well.

Note that this is definitely not airport-friendly, nor was it intended to be.

Step 2: Choose a Case

I have several of these two-sided plastic Plano brand cases that I use for a variety of things. They're great.

I get them for $4 at Walmart in the fishing section, although they are surely found at a variety of stores.

There are any number of cases you could use for a maker's kit like this. You should choose a case that fits whatever you want to put in your kit. (Knitting supplies? You're probably gonna need a bigger case than this, for example.)

For the case I used, it comes with removable compartment dividers and each little bay has protruding lips that hold the dividers in place. I found these divider lips to be in the way, so they were carefully scraped out and removed with a sharp 1/4" chisel.

Step 3: Side One

The following steps cover the details of what is included in the first side of my case.

Step 4: Compartment 1: Wire

This compartment holds a small pile of large paper clips, as well as 10 feet of rebar tie wire.

Large paper clips are infinitely useful, as they provide small, ready-to-go bits of strong, fairly stiff wire.

Rebar tie wire is perfect for general making and fastening because it is fairly soft and flexible, and easy to manipulate by hand. With a Leatherman for cutting as well as more intricate bending and crimping, you're good to go.

Step 5: Compartment 2: Cordage

In this compartment I have 10 feet of paracord, 20 feet of thin cotton string, and a simple homemade sewing kit.

The sewing kit was made by wrapping about 15 feet of a variety of threads around a piece of thin cardboard. Four of the threads are common light-duty thread, and two of them are thicker upholstery thread. I included a couple of regular hand-sewing needles, as well as a couple of heavier duty needles for the upholstery thread.

(If you're thinking "Only 10 feet of paracord??", keep in mind that this is a kit for simple making and fixing, and not intended for wilderness survival.)

Step 6: Compartment 3: Heat Shrink Tubing and Rubber Bands

Rubber bands and heat-shrink tubing come in handy for a variety for fixing and making situations.

Step 7: Compartment 4: Little Tools

I'll be honest, this is the compartment I'm most proud of!

In this compartment I have sandpaper in a variety of grits, a modified x-acto handle with blades, a modified paint brush, a piece of a hacksaw blade, toothpicks, and a bit of paraffin wax.

For the sandpaper, I used an old pair of scissors to cut up quarter-sheets of 60, 150, and 220 grits into 8 sections each.

I used a cut-off disc in my rotary tool and cut down a metal x-acto handle so it would fit in the case, and made a small pouch out of paper and duct tape to hold six new blades. (The handle was covered with black heat shrink tubing to add a rubbery grip.)

I cut the handle of an older (but still good) paint brush so it would fit in the case, and sanded the end to a point so it could double as a sculpting tool.

A piece of a metal-cutting hacksaw blade was trimmed to fit the x-acto handle as well. (This was a brilliant idea from user K.hall86--thank you!) I think this will be especially useful for actually cutting small pieces of wood, rather than metal. Either way, it's a good thing to include as it takes up practically no space.

Toothpicks are great for a variety of uses, from sculpting clay to intricate painting, so I included a few.

And I added a small chunk of paraffin wax. You never know when a bit of wax will come in handy.

Step 8: Compartments 5 & 6: Paint

I wanted to include some small tubs of water-based craft paint.

However in order to make them fit, I actually had to modify the case further. I carefully scored the plastic separating two end compartments with a hobby knife, popped the piece out, and then trimmed away any remaining bits of plastic.

Six little tubs of paint now fit in this double compartment, although I had to first trim off the little tabs and hinges from each tub. I had room for six, so I went with the primaries plus green, black, and white.

Step 9: Side Two

The following steps cover the details of what is included in the second side of my case.

Step 10: Compartment 7: Glues

In this compartment I included two tubes of basic super glue, and three straw packets filled with wood glue.

To use the straw packets, I will just nip off a corner and then seal it back up when I'm done.

Step 11: Compartment 8: Gorilla Tape

I love Gorilla Tape. It's like duct tape on steroids . . . thicker, stickier, and more durable.

I bought a narrow roll of it (the width of which happens to fit perfectly in the case compartments!), and carefully wrapped a bunch of it onto a piece of a paint stir stick.

Step 12: Compartment 9: Epoxy Putty and Some Oil

I also love two-part epoxy putty.

It has some uniquely beneficial qualities and is incredibly useful for all kinds of applications. For that reason, I didn't fee bad dedicating an entire compartment to hold a whole roll of the stuff.

Since there was room on top of the putty and I was looking to include some basic lubricating oil in the kit somewhere, I added it here.

A bit of oil was sealed into a straw packet just as was done earlier with the wood glue.

There's actually room in this compartment for a few more straw packets if I think of any other types of liquid I want to include. Ideas?

Step 13: Compartment 10: Clay

In the final compartment I included some oil-based clay, which will never dry out.

This is great for making non-permanent, time-passing sculptures. The colors will likely all get mixed when my kids get ahold of them, but that's okay.

Step 14: That's It!

Well, that's it! I'm all set for on-the-go making and fixing.

If you were to make a similar kit, what would you include in yours?

If you make one, I'd love to see and hear about it in the comments!

Thanks for taking a look.

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70 Discussions


Reply 4 years ago on Step 12

The oil I included was actually sewing machine oil (ie, light machine oil), as I tend to use that for much more than just sewing machines.

I wanted to include a couple kinds of solvents, but was wary of heat-sealing them in straw packets as I did for the glue and oil. Any ideas on how I could store a small bit of solvent? Do you think straw packets would work?

Because WD-40 and GooGone would be terrific additions. Excellent suggestions!


Reply 1 year ago

Would the aluminum pill tubes, or barrel dog tags hold up to the solvents? I included links in another comment. This comment is redundant.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

If the solvent doesn't have issues with heat (or dissolving plastic) then you should be OK.

Might want to run a few test batches and just leave them hanging over a container so they don't mess up your kit if they leak.

I'd also probably make sure they don't interact with anything else (e.g. cyanoacrylate glue) to do things like make fires or toxic fumes.

I think WD-40 would be fine. It *is* flammable but at least in my experience it's much less so than say, spray paint. No clue about GooGone, but if it's naphtha I suspect that would burn more than you want.

I could swear there used to be a WD-40 pen-sized applicator with a metal tube but I can't seem to find it anywhere. However it does appear there's a WD-40 pen product that looks roughly like a felt-tipped pen filled with WD-40 rather than ink.

Ah, look up "precision oiler" on amazon and you'll find examples of what I was thinking about.


4 years ago on Step 12

The problem with solvents is that they normally tear down all plastic containers, so maybe a thin allu or iron tube would do the thing? One end of it could be soldered/hammered so that there are no leaks, but the other end should have some sort of cap or be pinched with pliers or something when you're done using the solvent (although laying the tube in horizontal position could make the solvent leak). A tiny glass bottle - like those for perfume samples - could also do the trick, but you should test the resistance of its plastic cap too. Or other bigger (but still small :)) perfume/bath cream glass bottles could also be good solvent containers, like those with rubber or metal caps.

1 reply

Reply 1 year ago

I wonder if those aluminum pill pendants with the screw cap would do the trick. Or the barrel dog tags that hold a tivek information sheet?

5*1.7CM Waterproof Aluminum Pill Box Keychain

Stainless Steel Pet ID Barrel


3 years ago

I added five zip ties (as has been suggested in the comments) and I found that folding them into thirds and securing them with a rubber band allows them to fit perfectly into the compartments (and gives you an extra rubber band).

16, 12:12 AM.jpg

3 years ago

I love it! I have been trying to get a good box for my own kit because all I have are Altoids tins


3 years ago

awesome!! This could easily be a survival kit if u added a firestarter


4 years ago

Cool, I think. I'm not sure what you use this kit for? Just to have something to occupy yourself when you're bored or to fix stuff?

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

Both! :)

For example, this coming week I'll be heading to a relative's house for a few days over Thanksgiving. I'm going to take this along so I can still putter and make stuff, despite being away from my own little workshop.


4 years ago

Very nicely done!

Thanks for sharing your little kit. I'm glad you were inspired to make one! :)


4 years ago

that looks awsmazing


4 years ago

I just wanted to say thanks for this. I've been putting together my own version now and just the process of doing so has been incredibly fun. I've taken to calling it my "MacGyver" box for reasons obvious to any fan of the old show. Some of my additions/ideas:

- Small binder clips. You can fit 5 or 6 in one of the sections with the divider in. Endlessly useful as a small glue clamp, chip clip, phone stand, etc.

- Small magnifying glass. You can find little plastic ones on-line with 1 inch or less lenses for around a dollar. Haven't done this yet but should fit. Useful for those of us with aging eyes.

- a Sharpie Mini fits perfectly

- Zebra SL-F2 Mini Ballpoint pen from Jet Pens. These are $5 and fit right in.

- Folding Utility Saw and/or Knife by Dermasafe.

I believe these were made for the military. In any case they are small and inexpensive enough to be almost disposable.

Thanks again for the great guide and to everyone who has contributed their own ideas.

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

Most excellent!

Great ideas and comment, thank you so much. I actually wanted to call it a MacGyver Kit, but I recalled a past project where the owners of the show contacted the site and made the author change the name of his post... so I went with MakeKit just to be safe! Kinda silly, but you nailed it. This is a MacGyver Kit :)

Glad to hear you were inspired to make your own! I sent you a little bit of pro membership to say thanks for the great comment.


4 years ago

You have found the answer to all my problems!!! This is amazing!!! Do you have a link for the Walmart box you used?

1 reply

I love such kits, and I need to get myself a box for this. One idea I had was to use something else as "core" for the gorilla tape instead of the piece of wood. I was thinking razor blades, or maybe you could fit the pouch for the craft knives in a sleeve inside there.

Other things to add might be - depending on your predisposition - a card scraper; a stick of hot glue (for use with the lighter, but I think this has been mentioned before); a ball pen refill (with a piece of clay on the tip); a small permanent marker (there are those that are only long enough to hold when you put the cap on the bottom, something like that - sometimes necessary to draw the X for where the problem lies - engineers will understand); salt (to spice things up, but in this case to make wood glue-ups easier - a pinch of salt keeps the pieces from slipping); baloons and/or rubber gloves (the later for use as, well, gloves, but also, like the balloons, to entertain kids - inflate them, seal with a knot, loosely tie two fingers each to make legs, and the thumb will be the trunk - add face, and get a cute rubber elephant toy. Learned that trick from a paramedic). Hope I did not mention anything that is already in there, or has been mentioned!

Again, great idea, and very inspiring! And so versatile...