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A Solid Case for DIY Covers

Whenever you buy anything that’s worth much, inevitably someone tries to sell you a cover. “Your expensive new purchase,” they say, “needs solid protection.” I concede the point, but cases can be costly.

Recently, I went online and dropped $100 on a new table tennis paddle. Like many case-worthy products, it’s a fragile thing that must be sheltered from dirt, water and accidental impacts. The retailer offers over twenty different models of cases. Prices average $25 and the fanciest ones cost $60.

When faced with a case of such expensive cases, what’s a cheapish ping pong player to do? I’m willing to splurge $100 to stay competitive, but it seems excessive to pay an extra $25 to safeguard my purchase—quite literally, this particular case seems to present some sort of protection racket. Is this onerous expense something I can sidestep; or is it an offer I can’t refuse?

The Craftier Side of Ping Pong

The packaging for my new paddle delivered a solid hint about how to avoid paying for a cover. The materials weren’t fancy. A flimsy cardboard box protected the paddle. An oversized bubble mailer protected the box. That’s it. Anyone might conclude that if thin cardboard and bubble wrap are strong enough safeguard paddles for shipment, they’re strong enough to safeguard paddles after delivery.

So although I’m not crafty by nature, I decided to build a do-it-yourself paddle case. I had everything on hand: the paddle’s mailing envelope, glue, duct tape, Velcro, cereal box cardboard and decorative decals. I took pictures each step of the way so that, if you wish, you too can build with your own DIY encasement—and if you want it can even protect something other than a ping pong paddle.

If you don’t stop to take pictures, this whole project takes about thirty minutes.

Step 1: Cut Mailer Down to Size

The bubble mailer is oversized so I cut it half, making sure to leave a flap. After this I reinforced the mailer’s edges with clear packing tape.

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Step 2: Reinforce Mailer Body with Rice Krispies Box

Snap, crackle and pop are bad things for a bubble mailer, so I added protective armor courtesy of Kellogg’s.

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Step 3: Reinforce Mailer Flap With Rice Krispies Box

I also reinforced the flap.

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Step 4:  Set the Glue

I added some weight to help the glue set up.

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Step 4½: Reject Impulse to Display Rice Krispies Exterior

The cereal motif looked so great that I almost stopped here. But a rainstorm would make everything soggy so I decided to add water-resistant duct tape.

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Step 5: Apply Duct Tape

Horizontal strips look cool.

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Step 6: Reinforce Edges 

The case will last longer if extra tape covers areas that get the most wear.

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Step 7: Apply Velcro

These will keep the flap closed and my precious paddle safe from the elements.

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Step 8: Apply Decorative Boston Accent

This attractive sticker came free with my 2016 Red Sox Nation membership and keeps the case from looking too much like a purse—the wrong message to send since table tennis is such a macho sport.

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Here’s the finished product side-by-side with my earlier Kindle Kover project. It’s a two-piece set of matching luggage!

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Last Thursday I played ninety minutes of table tennis at a friend’s garage. When I emerged outside I found it had been snowing all the while. Three inches of fresh powder now adorned my Prius. So what was a cheapish ping pong player to do? Once again, improvisation delivered the right solution—my new DIY cover not only protects my paddle, in a pinch it’s a great waterproof snow scraper.

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