The design and building process is fairly straight-forward, and could be used to make any size of wooden suitcase or trunk. My finished case is rock-solid, yet still lightweight. I like the idea of custom-made wooden cases to store my things, and I think I'll be making a couple more of these in different sizes.
One of the best parts about this project is that I was able to make it almost entirely by re-using scrap materials.
I used 1/4" plywood for the outer skin of the case, and strips of 3/4" plywood for the inner supporting framework. The 1/4" plywood was flooring underlayment scraps that I got out of a dumpster of a flooring business. The hinges and catches came from an old dining table that I refinished a while ago that had a broken butterfly-style leaf. The foam that holds the radio was packing material used to protect a large gymnasium scoreboard that was shipped to my work. Most of this stuff could have been purchased . . . but I enjoy finding, holding onto, and eventually re-suing materials like this. It adds another level of character to the finished product.
Aside from the 3/4" plywood that was left over from another project, the only things I had to purchase were the suitcase handle and the plastic feet (along with basic materials like glue, nails, paint, etc.).
This was a fun project and I am very pleased with the results. Take a look, and let me know what you think. Thanks!
Step 1: Cut Out Pieces
The two large side pieces are 11" by 16". The smaller side pieces for each half of the case were 4" and 2" wide, respectively, and were cut to length to fit as needed.
A handful of 11/16" wide strips were cut from 3/4" plywood to use for the inner support framework. (11/16" is the actual thickness of 3/4" plywood, so the resulting strips were square.)
A note on tools: The essential tool for this project is a nail gun. I used 5/8" brads for everything. If you're patient and have a lot of clamps, you could do this without nails, but it might take forever. A table saw would be handy, but I get by with a circular saw and a straight edge, and a power miter saw. An orbital sander was also used, along with a few small clamps, and some other basic hand tools.
Step 2: Assemble Sides of Case
Step 3: Finish Sides of Case
A lip was created on the non-hinge edge of the bottom side of the case that extends into a recessed area in the upper half of the case. (You can see it in the photo here.) It's not necessary, but it will help keep the case intact if it's ever dropped or slammed around.
Hopefully that will never happen, but it is a possibility since I have kids!
Step 4: Fill Nail Holes
Step 5: Seal the Wood
I really liked the natural way it looked at this point, and almost left it as is.
Step 6: Coat With Primer
I started with a few coats of spray primer, with a light sanding in between each coat. This makes a smooth surface that takes the final coats of paint very well.
Step 7: Paint
Step 8: Add Stripes
I almost did white stripes, but I'm glad I went with gray. I think they look dope.
After everything was thoroughly dry, I buffed the painted surfaces with super fine steel wool. This gave the surfaces and edges an ever-so-slightly weathered look.
Then I coated everything with a few coats of semi-gloss lacquer.
Step 9: Add Hardware
The location for each screw was marked with a small indentation made with a nail punch. Doing it this way creates a little centering guide to help the drill bit not wander when you predrill the holes for the screws. It's a multi-step process, but this is the only way I've seen that ensures precise placement of hardware.
Step 10: Add Foam
A snap-style heavy-duty utility knife with a new blade was used to slice and shape the foam. The foam was cut in such a way that it fit snugly within the framework along the inside walls of the case, without needing any glue to stay in place. If I ever want to use the case for something else, I can just pull the foam out.
That's it. Thanks again for looking!