Introduction: Suitcase Picnic Table and Speaker System

Picture of Suitcase Picnic Table and Speaker System

Take this suitcase on a fun picnic in the park!  Not only can you carry all your food and silverware it in -- it also doubles as a picnic table and speaker system.

The speaker system is powered by the minty boost USB charger.  Plug in your ipod and listen to some sweet tunes.

There are four legs that retract from the suitcase so you can prop the suitcase up and use the surface as a table.

I've recently gotten into re-purposing suitcases.  I've found lots of great inspiration online for fun projects.  This project was more of a hybrid of things I've seen plus a few new ideas of my own.  

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Here are the main materials you will need.  In each individual step I will let you know the smaller materials like glue, scissors, screws, etc...

1. Suitcase - find a suitcase hard shell.  I love this old vintage Samsonite suitcase!  However, the edges of the suitcase are curved and this cause a few problems in mounting the legs and hardware.  I would suggest finding a suitcase or briefcase that has 90 degree edges (box).
2. 4 Leg Braces - I bought these locking leg braces from McMaster Carr (#2).  Let me tell you, I spent a good amount of time figuring out the best way to mount the legs and this was definitely the best option.  I'd love to hear other ideas on what could work.  I liked these also because the legs sit nicely inside the suitcase and are easy to prop up and lock.
3. 4 Legs - I cut 4 pieces of 1" x 1" wood at length 12"
4. Speakers - I know a little bit about electronics but not too much.  Instead of creating a speaker system from scratch I just bought an inexpensive USB powered computer speaker system.  It came with all the parts I needed, all I had to do was take it out of its case.  Heres a link to the speakers I used.
5. Minty  Boost - powers your speakers and is simple to put together.  You can buy this here.

Step 2: Attaching Legs

Picture of Attaching Legs
Materials and Tools
  1. Wooden Legs
  2. Hinges
  3. Power Drill
  4. 12 small screws -  to mount the hinge to the suitcase.  Be careful with the size screw you choose.  The head of the screw needs to be larger than the holes in the hinge (so everything is secured properly) but short enough so they don't go all the way through the suitcase
  5. 8 small screws - to mount the hinge to the leg.  These still need to have a large head but they should be longer then the other screws, I'd say at least a 1/2 inch
  6. Spray Paint
Here is where the problems came in with the rounded suitcase edges.  It is hard to mount anything more than two inches to the side of the suitcase and have it lie flush because the edges curve.  I just made due with what I had, luckily the hinges weren't too large.  You will be attaching the hinges to the suitcase with screws.  The main frame of the suitcase is made of wood so they should attach securely.


Prepare Legs
  • If you haven't already done so, cut 4 12" legs out of the 1" x 1" wood
  • Paint the legs with the spray paint (see spray paint instructions)
  • Line up a hinge against the suitcase edge and mark with chalk where the hinge will be screwed to the case (you will see three holes in the hinge which is where you will mark).  Do this at all for corners for each leg.
    • Make sure you leave enough space between where the hinge will mount to the suitcase and the edge of the suitcase.  When the leg is un-hinged the hinge lock will pop out, you need enough space to allow for the locking mechanism to pop out.  See Diagram.
First, Attach Legs to Hinges
  • Line up the leg against the hinge where you want them to be attached.  Use a pencil to mark the wood where the legs will be screwed into the hinge.
  • Use the drill to make pilot holes where you marked in the previous step
  • Attach hinge to legs with longer screws
Second, Attach Hinges to Suitcase
  • Use the drill to make pilot holes where you marked in the first step with chalk.  Make sure you don't go all the way through the frame.
  • Attach hinge to suitcase with shorter screws.

Step 3: Remove Hardware From Speakers

Picture of Remove Hardware From Speakers

This is pretty simple.  Use a Dremel to cut away the plastic case of the speakers and take out all of the hardware parts.  

BE CAREFUL.  You don't want to compromise any of the electronics, so just be patient during this step and chip away little by little.

Step 4: Prepare Suitcase for Speakers

Picture of Prepare Suitcase for Speakers
  1. Speaker hardware
  2. Dremel - w/ grinder attachment
  3. Hand drill
  4. Set of drill bits
I must admit I didn't plan very well before mounting the hardware, but this also had to do with the curved edge problem.  There is probably a better layout for where to place the hardware, and again suggestions are welcome!

I knew I wanted to mount the speakers on the side of the suitcase because I wanted them to be visible, but I didn't want to put them on the top surface because people would be eating off of it.   I love how the speakers and knobs/switches for the speakers look on the outside!

  • Decide what you want the layout of speakers and knobs to look like on the outside of the suitcase.
  • Use a marker to mark where each element will go.
  • Mark on the outside of the suitcase where you want the knobs to go.  I had three elements I needed to worry about: volume knob, on/off switch, and LED indicator. 
  • Drill a hole where the knobs will go.  Make sure you use the correct size drill bit -- you want the knob to fit snugly in the hole.  Its ok if the outside of the suitcase looks ugly or torn up because the hole will be covered up by the plastic knob attachments.
  • Mark on the outside of the suitcase where you want the speakers to go.
  • Use a hand drill and drill a small pilot hole in the center of the suitcase.  Move up in drill bit sizes until you have drilled the biggest hole possible. 
  • With the dremel grinder attachment cut out the hole for the speaker.  The speaker should sit right in the hole.

Step 5: Put Speakers in Suitcase

Picture of Put Speakers in Suitcase

Once you have everything all cut out and ready you can start putting in all the elements of the speaker system permanently.

I epoxied all of the parts in the suitcase.  This is all pretty intuitive assuming you cut out everything properly. 

I liked how it looked having the speakers exposed but I wanted to cover up where I cut.  So I took the speaker cover and removed the fabric.  The black ring fits perfectly over the speaker and covers up the hole.  I attached it to the outside of the suitcase with epoxy.

To cover up the on/off switch and volume switch attach potentiometer knobs on the outside.  We had some extra lying around the office, and I sourced some from the original speaker system.

On the inside I covered the hardware with some plastic boxes.

Step 6: Inside Storage

Picture of Inside Storage

I used ribbon, snaps, and elastic to keep all the items attached to the case.  I will list out each item I have included in the suitcase and how I strapped it down.

Food Storage Containers - use ribbons and snaps.  Use a staple gun to staple ribbon to the inside of the suitcase.  I used hammer in snaps instead of sew in snaps -- they look more sleek!

Vase - elastic.  Stapled elastic to inside of case.

Wine Bottle - stapled two pieces of ribbon to the bottom of the suitcase.  The ribbons tie together to strap the bottle down.

Plates - criss-crossing elastic bands stapled to the bottom of the case.

Wine Glasses - the stems are strapped down with ribbon.  One side of the ribbon is stapled to the case the other side is velcroed down.  The cup part is strapped down with elastic which is stapled to the case.

Forks/Knives/Spoons - ribbon is glued down to the bottom of the case.  A small gap is left unglued to allow for the silverware.

** I also have a wine bottle opener and small place mat used as a table cloth that are not pictured.

Step 7: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

Randofo and I had a picnic in the park!


TattooMickey (author)2012-02-16

I ordered the same luggage from eBay, and got it for delivered for around 30 bucks. I ordered the same hinges that you did from the same place. I went to Home Depot and got some nice short table legs and cut them at home to fit into the hinges and for length (I also cut my thumb and for finger pretty good, so please people take care!), and then stained them to match the case I got (which is an awesome dark brown). I am about to head out to the hardware store for screws and start the process of measuring it all up. I can't thank you enough for this idea! My girlfriend LOVES this idea because we picnic ALL the time. I won't be doing another instructable of the same sort, but I'll upload pictures of the finished product based on yours so you can see what you have helped create! Thanks again!

Carleyy (author)TattooMickey2012-02-17

This is the greatest compliment ever! I get so flattered when people actually recreate my projects!! You should definitely post a photo instructable and show the suitcase in action!

TattooMickey (author)Carleyy2012-02-17

Update on my build! I am going to replace the Minty Boost with a rechargeable solar panel!

OrçunS (author)TattooMickey2016-03-29

can you please send a link or at least provide a brand or anything that can help me find this suitcase

SH3Z (author)2016-01-06

This is a brilliant idea, just need to find an old suitcase now.

theblckwlf (author)2016-01-05

This is really cool. Great job!

ohoilett (author)2015-12-21

This is awesome.

xxxCHICAGOxxx (author)2014-09-21

there is a youtuber named kipkay that did a good video on this suitcase speakers and everything.

Carleyy (author)xxxCHICAGOxxx2014-09-22

Thanks for letting me know!

Kimmyr0se (author)2014-05-16

How big is your suitcase?

bdominicano (author)2013-01-27

Finished mine. Thanks for the inspiration.

Kimmyr0se (author)bdominicano2014-05-15

please tell me about your modifications. Love the clean look! Is the inside original or your fabric?

Carleyy (author)bdominicano2013-02-21

This is amazing!

Chehaven (author)2014-05-05

I love this so much! As soon as I find a suitcase I'm making one ;-)

agis68 (author)2013-08-13

very nice work i dont have any old suitcase maybe on my parent's attic i could find any. I look in trashes too. People throw away so usefull things anyway.

MartijnD (author)2013-03-05

Or collaps the legs towards the other side, this way they can be longer, some calulation is required, two different lengths, or beside each other.

bdominicano (author)2013-02-21

Thanks to you.

bricabracwizard (author)2013-02-03

This is really a great idea! I bet plenty of people were impressed and wanted to join your little party!

lsaikali (author)2012-12-11

This is SUCH a cool idea! I love picnics and have one of those wicker barrel picnic baskets that while looking cute and everything, isn't too fun or practical to take on a hike then picnic.

I'm wondering about the leg length - I wonder if it would be possible to cut the depth of the legs in half and attach the "second half" of the leg to the bottom part of the first piece with a small locking hinge so that the table could potentially be twice as tall yet the legs could still fold and sit nicely on top of each other inside the suitcase. This would make sitting on lawn chairs a lot more doable.

Great tutorial and I can't wait to try it out myself

jm31181 (author)2012-11-16


dhurtado2 (author)2012-11-01

I think it would make an awesome coffee table, too, with some modifications.

dstuck (author)2012-11-01

Great idea. I'll keep this in the back of my head the next time I find an old suitcase/box. The speakers are nice but I believe I'll try to do flip down speakers that stay hidden when the suitcase is closed. Maybe wire them so that they are on opposite sides when the case is open for more of a stereo affect. Now I want to go shop my local thrift shop.

foxfirekenzie (author)2012-10-30

I am struggling to imagine where the power source is for these speakers. I am not too savvy when it comes to electronics, can you clue me in? I have GOT to make one of these! STAT!

douglascass (author)2011-08-04

Please, explaine how the speakers work? energy? battery? dinamo? conected directly an IPOD, MP3players?

Try reading.

burnerjack01 (author)2011-08-04

That is just so cool! Simple, nonchalant, perfect for capturing that "surprise, sunset inspired moment". Absolutely brilliant! Tossed in the back of the ride and presto! Off to the mountains or seaside! THIS is the essence of living with style.

That was almost poetic...

memorris027 (author)2012-02-16

Too cool...

voodooxfishy (author)2012-02-13


Pheline (author)2011-08-15

Is it my imagination or was it just recently that people figured out that picnics would be a lot more comfortable on a little table? It seems like we used to take baskets and blankets and then try to get comfortable, chase away bugs and eat at the same time. Good for heavy petting- not so good for eating.

I do love this idea. Frequently I see old suitcases and wonder what to do with them so I don't bring them home. A cube like one would be great too- make the (presumably short) lid the table and have access to the food, etc. left inside the (presumably larger) bottom part.

fireguard (author)Pheline2011-11-11

I LIKE that idea! Nice noodlin'! Keep it up. One little eensy weensy comment on here could be all the inspiration another needs to really change it up! :D Happy Friday!

d2graphix (author)2011-08-19

i so want to build this. I've hated the idea of picnics till I saw this. Totally would make the trip worth it.


tsunami78 (author)2011-08-18

Great idea! I have been in the market for a good picnic basket/backpack for a while, but I think this just blew that thought out of the water. I go camping a lot, and can might expand on this with a solar panel an larger battery, inverter and charging station for those week long camping trips.

Great job! Thank you for the inspiration :)


adritek (author)2011-08-13

This is a fantastic creation! Top job, I will enjoy endless summers in the park with this. Thank you!

jbollman (author)2011-08-13

One idea to use nuts, bolts and washers is to cut thin plywood to the inner dimension of each side, and bolt the legs to the plywood. You can then attach the plywood at any/many points to reduce the stress at any one screw.

In any regards, this is so cool.

jgraznak (author)2011-08-06

A cheap hole saw set would have made easy work of the speaker mounting. I bought my first one off a discount table at Northern for $10, and used it for a pile of different projects. I've long since upgraded to the DeWalt arbor system, a bit more expensive, but far more versitile.

javila4 (author)2011-08-05

really cool.

Madrigorne (author)2011-08-05

If you used a slightly larger suitcase, and made a locking joint in the legs, you could also build and pack a couple of folding stools and sit at full height table, and use it for a field desk or what not as well as a spur of the moment picnic. You may also want to pack a small table cloth, and a small ground blanket (if you aren't going with the stools) I have a few suitcases like this in the garage. Another project to add to the list...

AbstractDragon (author)2011-08-05

I've been wanting to try building some steamer chest type boxes soon, and this makes me think of the idea that a thicker box could be constructed to hold your picnic as well, maybe even a couple folding seats and have longer legs as well as room for a bottle of wine. If it was the size of a mid-sized trunk, it could do this nicely and look amazing.

ebradshaw (author)2011-08-04


pdub77 (author)2011-08-04

This is great! I'm just curious how the speakers sound with the plastic case cut off. Are they tinny or lacking in bass?

mikeasaurus (author)2011-08-04

Nice job, Carley!
Tunes and a glass of wine at the park, who can ask for more?

jakerobinson (author)2011-08-04

Very cool... my daughter will love this as she loves to repurpose old and vintage... groovy

Goodhart (author)2011-08-04

When I was younger we had a VERY similar (albeit MUCH bigger) version of this that my Dad had purchased. It was all metal though, but nearly full sized picnic table sized too. It folded in half, and was still fairly big, but not too heavy, and had a suit case handle on the end where the two halves met, and locked together. The legs folded in under the lip of the "case" as it were.

Fretka (author)2011-08-04

it would be awesome if you could also incorporate a iPod/MP3 holder to the side where the speakers are...with the "base" that allows you to charge the player as you listen...then you wouldn't have the cord in the way, and the iPod would be settled in it's own spot....**thinking how to do that now**
I have 5 -6 suitcases like this...everyone thought I was daft for hanging on to them...but I see I shall have the last laugh now !! especially when I show up with one and they want it!!

TOTALLY AWESOME project, thank you for sharing your brilliance !!

bajablue (author)2011-08-04

How SWEET is this!?! It's GENIUS, too!

5 Stars and one of my votes... excellent instructable!!!

Mugai (author)2011-08-04

Greetings, Fun! Gathering the bits and pieces for one of our own. Great for the next pic-a-nic date with sweetheart. thank for the idea.

-chase- (author)2011-08-04

Real nice - great idea to use for some of the older deco looking suit cases or even the modern aluminuim breif cases or leather...

Add a small portable solar panel to run the iPod as opposed to the Minty boost and it's a 100% mean green pic-nic table iPod machine. ;0)

thanx for sharing,
- chase -

Carleyy (author)-chase-2011-08-04

I've been wanting to learn how to work with solar panels -- this would be a great version 2!

shootfilm (author)2011-08-04

This is freaking genius! I'll be scouring estate sales this weekend for a suitable suitcase...

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