Canadian Woodworking

Fancy business card cases

Author: Charles Mak
Photos: Charles Mak
Published: April May 2013

Make these fancy card-holders – by the dozen – and you’ll become a favourite woodworker among your family and friends.


First impressions are impor­tant, and business cards are often exchanged during a first business encounter. Impress your contacts with a stylish card case you made, and customized, yourself. I’ve made and given these pocket-size card cases to fresh graduates and friends, knowing that theirs will stand out from their peers’ store-bought leather or aluminum holders. Your project could change or influence someone’s career.

Create a pattern for the case cover that can be a monogram for a personalized effect. You can find countless designs or ideas from pattern books or the Internet.

Stack and Drill
Drilling the finger notch on the two pieces at the same time ensures consistency.

Cut the Pattern
 Mak cuts on the line and then uses needle files to remove the saw marks.

Mix and Match
 The short grain joining the two longer sides of the middle section together is weak, so handle the part carefully. Here are two maple and three walnut middle sections ready for assembly.

Make an Alignment Jig
 Clamp two straight edges to form an L-shaped platform for the assembly process.

Clamp the Case
Using CA glue will speed up the process, but other glues will work fine.

Chamfer the Edges
 Bevels can be added by hand or on a sander. They help the finished case feel nice in your hand.

Gather your wood

The laminated card case consists of the top, the middle strips and the bottom. For one case, you’ll need two pieces of hardwood 1/8″ t. x 2 3/8″ w. x 3 3/4″ l. and a hardwood in contrasting color, 1/8″ x 2 3/8″ x 3 3/4″ for the middle section. These are suggested dimensions and you can vary them slightly.

Make the cover and bottom

First, stack the top and bottom pieces and secure the stack using two strips of double-sided tape. Mark a 3/8″ radius half-circle centered on one end and use the 3/4″ diameter Forstner bit to drill the half-circle opening. Remove and put the bottom piece aside.

Using temporary-bond spray adhe­sive, attach the desired pattern on the top piece. If you’re making multiple cases with the same design, stack them together with double-sided tape. Drill a blade entry hole through the stack to install the blade and cut out the pattern with a scroll saw or coping saw. Use a fine file to remove any saw marks on the inside edge and fine-tune the cut.

Make the middle piece

Lay out the U-shapes pattern on the middle work piece and cut out the U-shaped strip (or, in a stack when made in multiples). The resulting piece will have very weak short-grain on the end, so be careful handling it. Alternatively, you can make three narrow strips that can be sandwiched between the top and bot­tom pieces, but aligning them is a bit tricky. Once you do a couple of cases, you will find the task does get easier.

Assemble the case

To align the pieces for assembly, I formed an L-shaped assembly jig by clamping two boards perpendicular to each other on the workbench. Place the bottom piece inside the jig and CA glue the middle strip to the bottom, ensur­ing the edges are aligned. Then apply glue to the strip and clamp the cover to it, again ensuring the edges are aligned.

To create a softer, more finished look, sand all edges using a bench-top sander or by hand, then add a small chamfer to the edges. Finish-sand the entire project. Don’t forget to sign your project; my favorite way of signing this kind of project is with punch stamps bearing my monogram and the maple leaf symbol. Remove all sanding dust before applying your finish of choice. For the project shown, Old English lemon oil was applied to the wood.

Deciding what pattern to use, what woods to mix and how many to make is relatively easy. Who gets to receive your first handcrafted card case could be the hard decision.

Charles Mak - [email protected]

Charles is one of the few hobby mechanical sculpture-makers in Canada, and likes to design and include mechanical elements in many of his projects.

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