This is the page to build the "Pipe Major's" bagpipe case

This page is the result of my quest to build a bagpipe case that would meet these requirements:

1. It would protect my bagpipes 2. It would accommodate my Cartridge System (as all cases do!) as well as the Canister System. 3. It would have a roomy compartment for my pipes and accommodate several chanters. 4. It would have a compartment to hold all my music. 5. It would have a separate compartment to hold all the accessories and other crap I carry in my case. 6. It would meet current airline carry-one size requirements

I accomplished all except the last. I screwed up in translating the panel sizes to my planned outside dimensions and didn't realize it until the case was finished. I'm still very satisfied with the outcome.

The intended dimensions were 8 1/2 inches thick, 12 inches high and 23 3/4 inches wide (including the outside hardware. This would have given me the under 24 inches wide absolute for carry ons and the "under 45 total linear inches" requirement. This is what I was able to determine from several websites. Do your own research on this, however, if you attempt to meet these requirements.

The finished size of my case was 9 1/2 X 12 1/2 X 24. The sizes given for the panels in these instructions is for the way my case turned out, not the desired numbers

The total cost for this project was $146.00, so if you were hoping to save money as your primary motivator, stop right now. $30 was for shipping most of the components from Texas. Some of the components left me with extra (linear hinge, extruded aluminum, vinyl, cloth, etc), and the company that I found that sells this stuff offers discounts for bulk orders

Here is what you will need to build this case:


plastic attache handle
(2) locking latches #501-611801
(8) 20 gauge sm lt. duty ball corners #502-1346800
(8) small clamps #504-1707800
1.5 x 060 x 72 drilled aluminum hinge #505-196086 (this is a 72 inch hinge that you will cut)
10 ft (min order) 1/8 alum tongue #507-3010806
10 ft 1/8 alum groove #507-3012806
20 ft 1/8 alum double channel angle #507-3040806
1/2 x 54 x 72" 2 lb ester foam (you'll have lots left over) #509-4505905

The rest can be purchased elsewhere:

1/2 and 3/4 inch rivets with backing plates
Thinvinyl to cover the outside
10 square feet of 1/8 inch marker board (Home Depot: particle board without the white marking surface would work as well, but the marking surface gave the board a nice stiffness and the price difference was minimal.)
cloth to cover the inside (I used a heavy velvety upholstery fabric that matched the vinyl, both were remnants and almost free)
A large can of spray adhesive (you will use all of this).
4 ft of light duty 3/8 inch x 5/8 inch aluminum angle

First, cut all the panels (adjust these sizes to meet the airline requirements if you wish)
(2) big side panels: L 22 15/16 X W 11 3/16 inches
(4: top and bottom) end panels: W 11 3/16 X H 4 1/16 inches
(4: top and bottom) front panels: L 22 15/16 X H 4 1/16 inches

Next, cut the vinyl for each panel. Cut each piece 1 inch bigger than the panel. Spray the unfinished side of the panel and lay the vinyl on it. Do the same for all the panels. Make sure all the bubbles and wrinkles are out. Put on a flat surface with the big panels on the bottom and the small ones on top. Place a sturdy board on the panels and place heavy weights evenly on top of the board. (I used 200 lbs of 25 lb steel bench press plates. Let this set for 2 days. After the lamination has dried, trim the vinyl with a razor knife level with the edges of the panels.

Next, put the case together. Cut the double channel angle so that the long pieces for the big panels are about 1/4 inch shorter than the panels. Cut the end pieces so that they rest inside of the space between the long pieces (its not neccessary to cut 45 degree angles). Insert the end and front panels. Use rivets with backing plates to secure the corners. Notice that this type of construction does require drilling the channel angle. Drill one hole, apply the rivet. Use this approach troughout

Cut the alum groove (using 45 degree angles here) to cover the top edge of one of the case halves. Cut 4 pieces of channel aluminum to fit in between the bottom aluminum and the alum groove on the corners. Square it up, make sure the panels are in the channels all the way and secure by riveting the clamps (1 at a time!). In this case, you will be drilled through the aluminum and the panel for riveting.

Cut the alum tongue the same way. but place this half of the box on top of the other box so that the grooves and the tongues line up. Once all lined up, rivet with the clamps.

Cut a 20 inch piece of hinge and rivet it to the bottom using backing plates and all the drilled holes.

Next, install the attache handle and the latches using rivets and backing plates.

My case has a accessory compartment that is 2 1/2 inches deep, which accommodates my largest accessories. Draw a line around the inside front and end panels of the lid that is 2 1/2 inches from the inside of the large panel. Cut the angle aluminum and attach it with rivets so that the 5/8 inch edge will stick out at a right angle to the side of the case. Attach lengths to the hinged bottom panel and the two end panels. These should take up most of the length of the panels but they don't have to go all the way to the ends. Backup plates on the rivets are not neccessary as the angle aluminum will serve this purpose. This is what the accessory box lid will rest on. Figure out where you want your center divider to be and attach another piece of angle to the big side panel for the divider to attach to.

Next, cut the lid out of your leftover marker board. Cut it 22 1/8 X 10 1/2 inches. Cut another 20 inch piece of hinge. Attach with rivets and plates to the lid so that the edge is flush and resting on the center pivot point of the hinge. Rivet all the holes. Place the lid on the angle aluminum with the attached hinge plate on top of the lid and the loose portion hanging down. Be sure it is centered on the angle and that you have slightly more than 1/2 inch of aluminum angle showing on all sides. If you have less than this, sand the lid where to need to. Attach the lid to the case with rivets and plates. Next, cut a divider to fit the inside of the case and attach with rivets to the aluminum angle. Next, cut a finger hole in the accessory compartment lid that you can use to open the lid. Fashion a locking mechanism for the accessory lid. I used a wingnut with a bolt screwed into it that passed through the accessory lid near the finger hole. The bolt has a small piece of aluminum that, when the wingnut is turned from above, the aluminum catches the bottom of the aluminum angle. The small piece of aluminum was secured by tightening nuts on either side of it and a washer went between the wing nut and the foam on the lid. If you use this method, you will actually install it after the foam is applied.

The next steps will involve attaching all the foam and cloth with spray adhesive. You will need to do this is several steps as the adhesive dries quickly. Be sure to mask everything you don't want adhesive on prior to spraying!! Next cut and apply a piece of foam to the bottom of the pipe compartment using spray adhesive. Cut a piece of cloth and adhere it to the top of the foam. Cut foam for all the sides of the compartment, no cloth on this foam. (In order to give myself a bit more room, I left the foam off the stock end of the pipe compartment and instead used the cloth).

Next, attach foam to the top of the lid. Leave the foam off the hinge plate as this will hinder opening the lid. Next, attach foam to the edges of the lid: flush with the opening and the top of the angle aluminium. Attach the latching mechanism. Line the compartment with cloth (no foam). Cut pieces to fit the top and bottom panels. Cut one piece that will start on on end panel, cover the main panel, up and over the divider, the other side of the main panel and end covering the other end panel. Apply all of these with the adhesive.

Your done! Please feel free to email me photos or alternate measurements of your case and I'll add them to this page.


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