Introduction: Suitcase Picnic Table and Speaker System

About: Former Instructables employee CHECK OUT MY WORK

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

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

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

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

  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

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

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!

Randofo and I had a picnic in the park!

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