Introduction: Wooden Suitcase

This is a little wooden suitcase I made to carry my R/C transmitter. I could have purchased a case to carry my radio gear, but I wanted something different than what everyone else has, pretty cool, and of course, homemade.

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

My finished case is 11" by 16" by 6.5".

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

The strips of 3/4" plywood were cut to various lengths to build the inner framework in place, connecting all the side pieces. A thin layer of wood glue was applied to the surfaces of all pieces that were to be joined together prior to nailing.

Step 3: Finish Sides of Case

Strips of plywood were added to finish the inside edges of each half of the case. This solidified and finished the construction of the sides of the 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

Wood filler was used to fill all of the nail holes, along with a couple of little gaps and cracks where wood was joined.

Step 5: Seal the Wood

I painted each side of the case with a couple of coats of sanding sealer. I did this to tighten up the edges of the 1/4" ply to try to minimize the chance of it chipping and flaking as the case gets bumped into walls and stuff.

I really liked the natural way it looked at this point, and almost left it as is.

Step 6: Coat With Primer

I eventually decided to paint it.

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

Three or four light coats of spray paint were applied.

Step 8: Add Stripes

I spent a while trying to figure out a simple design that I liked. I came up with a lot of options, but eventually went with the stripes shown here.

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 hinges, catches, plastic feet, and handle were added.

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

Foam was cut and pieced together to create a cradle for my radio, along with a couple of spots to hold miscellaneous items.

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!


TimH259 made it! (author)2017-02-13

Made it into a case for camera equipment and it turned out great! No paint tho, just oak and helmsman!

seamster made it! (author)seamster2017-02-14

Looks great! Thanks for sharing the photos : )

jonspieg made it! (author)2014-05-10

I really enjoyed making this project! Here is the result.

I couldn't find a descent handle anywhere so I decided to carve it out of wood. It came out quite bulky, but it adds to the character of the suitcase :) I think I'll paint it black.


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mchau2 made it! (author)mchau22016-03-17

wooden handle plus one!

seamster made it! (author)seamster2014-05-10

Nice work! I like the wood handle. It's nicer than the plastic one I have on my little suitcase.

peter---peter made it! (author)2014-06-14

awesome suitcase!

hix256 made it! (author)2013-05-21

Romanian army recruit suitcase

Greasetattoo made it! (author)2012-10-25

Wow, perfect!

I am going to make a Flea Circus, and this suitcase will work perfect!
Great job!
Went to follow you, and low and behold, I already was!

seamster made it! (author)seamster2012-10-25

Nice! Glad you found this helpful!

Daftehh made it! (author)2012-08-12

Welp, heres mine
and a video showcasing my amateur woodworking
Thanks for the stripes

DSC01224 - 1.JPGDSC01225 - 1.JPGDSC01226 - 1.JPGDSC01227 - 1.JPG
seamster made it! (author)seamster2012-08-13

Nice work! That paint job is awesome!

pheenix42 made it! (author)2011-11-26

Going to have to build one of these for my game console to travel in, and one for my pair of roller skates! I wonder, though, where does one get the metal corner protectors I'm thinking of?

Great job!

seamster made it! (author)seamster2011-11-26


bureauthirteen made it! (author)2011-10-28

Very nice. Where did you get the hardware?

seamster made it! (author)seamster2011-10-28

It was old hardware that came off a broken dining room table. (The table had a hinged leaf that folded away under the top of the table.) I never throw away old hardware, as I can usually find a place for it eventually!

heathbar64 made it! (author)2011-09-28

Looks nice. One trick I like when makes boxes with lids, is to make it all in one piece and then cut the lid off with the table saw. that insures that the lid matches perfectly.

seamster made it! (author)seamster2011-09-29

That is a good trick. I'll have to try that. Thanks!

jamessullivan129 made it! (author)2011-06-25

this Wooden Suitcase is very great...i like it and i want to make it as soon as posibble...great website

Spaceman Spiff made it! (author)2011-05-17

Thanks for this ible; I'm making one!

haventmadeabombyet made it! (author)2011-05-05

I really love the paint job; it's nice touch.

seamster made it! (author)seamster2011-05-05

Hey, thanks. I'm very happy with the way it turned out.

sharkh2o made it! (author)2011-04-27

Nice job! I think I'll make one as a range bag for my pistols, ammo, hearing protection, etc. for when I go shooting.

Eye Poker made it! (author)Eye Poker2011-04-29

A lock will make all the difference in making transport legal in many states.

sharkh2o made it! (author)sharkh2o2011-04-30

No worries, I've got a CCL, but that's a good point for anyone that doesn't.

seamster made it! (author)seamster2011-04-27

That's a good idea. You might want to include a lock though!

ilpug made it! (author)2011-04-26

going to make so many of these... very nicely done.

seamster made it! (author)seamster2011-04-26

Thanks, I'm glad you like it!

If you make some, be sure to post a picture or two.

iminthebathroom made it! (author)2011-04-26

I so appreciate things like this!!! My best friend Paul always built stuff like this. Pure admiration more attention to detail!

seamster made it! (author)seamster2011-04-26


notingkool made it! (author)2011-04-26

awesome, i was looking one like this for my helicopter.
Whats the name of the foam that you use? expanded poliuretane?

seamster made it! (author)seamster2011-04-26

I'm not sure what it is, as it was headed for the trash when I got a hold of it.

bowmaster made it! (author)2011-04-26

Cool, now I just need a bunch of $100's to keep in it!!

pheenix42 made it! (author)2011-04-26

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I was needing something just like this to make for a game console of mine, and a smaller version for my netbook!


quinault made it! (author)2011-04-26


knife141 made it! (author)2011-04-26

VERY nice job!!!

About This Instructable




Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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