Introduction: The Suitcase End Table
My wife has had these two awesome vintage suitcases laying around forever. She had previously customized this one by reupholstering the inside with some fun "POW" material. They've just kinda been storage for a while for old video game systems, but we've been doing some decluttering and I started wondering how we could add these to the house decor. I thought they would make cool tables. I know I'm not the first to do this, but here's my take on it. Believe it or not I found two 3/4" mohogany boards on a pallet and had been saving them for something cool. So, here goes.
Step 1: Inside the Box
To start, I knew whatever I was gonna do, I was gonna need some backing in the bottom of the suitcase to attach the legs to. The suitcase is made out of basically thick cardboard. So I traced the shape of the bottom on a piece of scrap plywood. I then, through some trial and error i cut and belt sanded the edges so that the piece would fit pretty snugly. Side note, I would suggest shaping the piece to the point where you're pretty sure its gonna fit right but not pushing all the way in as you will probably not easily get it back out. Remember the piece will be covered in fabric so a little small is better than too tight. I then discovered that my wife still had some of the same material that she used before. I covered the plywood with a little batting for some cush, and covered the batting with the material. I just used a T-50 stapler on the back side to attach the fabric. I stapled one sid in a straight line and then I wrapped the end of the fabric in a long stick of moulding i had laying around so that i could pull even tension on the fabric as i stapled. When this was done i just pushed the whole thing into the suitcase. I did not use any adhesive as i figured screwing the legs on would hold it in place, plus it fit pretty tightly.
Step 2: The Legs
I wanted to make this table kinda retro to match the suitcase as well as feminine since it was for my wife. I knew i wanted the legs to be slim and tapered so I started by determining the height, and then playing with measurements at the top and bottom to get the right look. My legs ended up being around 17" long. The width at the top was 1 7/8" and tapered to 3/4" at the bottom. The top of the legs are cut at 5 degrees so they flare out a little.
Step 3: The Apron
The apron is 3/4" x 1 3/8". I also rabbeted a groove 1/4" up from the bottom edge for a little detail. I wanted the legs to stand a little proud of the apron and i liked the play of angles with the legs flaring out but the apron being square to the suitcase. To accomplish this, I mitered the ends of the apron into the legs. To attach this all together, I predrilled and countersunk screws through one side of the miter, through the leg and into the other side of the miter on the front side and on the back, I used a diagonal brace. This brace has a slot cut in the back to sit tight against the back of the leg and is let in on both ends to the back side of the apron. The countersunk screw holes on the outside of the apron are sunk extra deep to accept plugs which i cut from some of the scrap. Once this was all assembled i drilled and screwed from underneath the apron into the plywood inside the suitcase.
Step 4: Bracing
From here, were almost done. I just ripped some 1" x 3/4" sticks from what was left. I measured 7" down from the bottom of the apron and marked for the the top of the brace. I transferred this all the way around and measured this point leg to leg for length of the braces. Make sure all the legs are sitting right and square before you do this then only measure one long side and one short side. The other long side needs to match the first one exactly, and the same goes for the short side. This is to maintain squareness. If all the braces are different measurements then your legs are not sitting square and your table won't sit right. I plugged all exposed screw holes. To finish, I just sanded and knocked the sharp edges off with sand paper. I have not chosen a finish yet but i think i wont stain as the mahogany looks good as is but i will do like a tung oil or some kind of clear coat. I hope you enjoyed this instructable and good luck. By the way the tan suitcase in the picture is the other cool suitcase we have. It was too much brown on brown with the mahogany. Instead. I'm gonna do a variation on this design. Its gonna be a little laptop desk. Hopefully that will be out soon.