Working on the streets is hard. Sometimes you need a place to put things or display your wares but who has the space or the permits these days. Well my friends look not further for you have landed on the right Instructble. Here we have a suitcase table that is completely self contained. No telescopic legs or screw on feet, just one sexy piece of luggage.
See what I use it for at www.slightlytwistedballoons.com
Step 1: Materials and Such
The materials list here is pretty straight forward and you should be able to do it all with a trip to Walmart and Home Depot plus a little shopping around on ebay.
1. The Suitcase: If you are like me you want your table to look a little vintage. I picked up this olive green Starway suitcase off ebay for about $10. As much as looks matter (they do) there is also another bit of criteria that must be met. Size is everything and if your table is not the right dimensions you will be done for.
Consider how tall you want your table to be. Whatever number you have reached now cut it in half and add an inch. This is the number that you are looking for from handle to hinges. The extra inch accounts for any space taken up by the walls of the case itself.
When it comes to length it is hard to go wrong with the how most cases are proportioned. The rule of thumb is that the greater the length the sturdier your table will stand.
Depth is rarely an issue unless you want to use a super thin attaché case which I would not advise.
2. The Wood: remember when you bought that suitcase? Do you remember the dimensions you ended up with? Take the length and width ( not depth) and multiply them to find the area of your case. Suppose you ended up with 21 inches by 13 inches. That would give you 273 square inches (just under 2 square feet). Double that and go buy it in half inch sande plywood. Should run you under $20.
To put it in simple terms get a piece of wood that you would have to fold in half to fit in the case as that is what you will be doing. On and a little extra.
3. The Hinges: This whole thing runs on hinges you will only need 9 of them but they come in 2 packs at Walmart so you might as well get 5 packs. It is very important that you get them with removable pins as they make things a million times easier.
4. Springs: For this you are going to the opposite side of Walmart. Hair care! Find those ladies hair clips that have the little springs keeping them clippy. Look for a pack that has a spring that the pin of your hinges will fit through. You will need 4 of these springs. If you are crafty you can make your own springs but not me.
5. Gravy: If you have a garage you probably have everything else you need. Lets see... Various screws, Srewdriver, Dremel cutting tool, a jigsaw, sanding block (or those fancy motor ones), and some wood stain of your preference.
Not to bad I hope.
Step 2: Hinge Prep
The neat thing about this table is how all 9 hinges work together to go from one solid state to another. This can only be effectivly done with spring hinges. This is a very easy step if you can work a dremel cutter.
Smash the little hair clips until you free the sweet spring. Try not to smash the spring.
Pull the pin out of the hinges and find the side with 3... Teeth? Prongs? Hingers? Whatever, you know what I mean. You need to remove the middle one. Pull out that cutting wheel and chop that baby off. Now assemble everything again. This time however place the little spring in the middle section. Now when you fold the hinge you will feel the resistance of the spring as it longs to pop back open.
Make 4 of these please.
P.S. If you find you have a few extra springs don't be afraid to double up and put 2 springs on a hinge. It will only make it stronger.
Step 3: Chopping Up Wood.
This part can be tricky because you must blend personal style with functionality. Take a look at the poorly drawn image below each line represents a cut in the both boards. The line moving horizontally is the center of the board and is where it will fold in on itself into the case. The vertical lines are where it will fold inward to create stability.
That is the rough shape. Feel free to make things curvy or triangular as long as it keeps that shape. Also note the sections scribbled red. Those areas must be kept flat as there will be hinges placed there.
Cut out whatever design you decided to go with. Remember that sanding down will be needed to get it all to fit in the box so don't create some involved etching along the edges. There will be a lot of sanding.
Also consider the use of negative space. The more holes you have the lighter this table will be.
Bellow is a photo of how I cut my board. I like the design and it went along nicely.
Step 4: "It's Full of Hinges..."
The placement of the hinges is going to be the hardest to describe. I can do my best and then I suggest you watch the unfolding video a couple time to get a feel of the way things move. Take a look at the captioned pictures to figure it out and feel free to ask questions.
Once you have all the hinges in place you need to sand everything down to insure that it will all move freely. As you can see mine has rather large gaps. This is a good thing.
Step 5: Mounting the Base to the Case.
If you want take a break and have fun tearing the interior of the suitcase out. You can leave it in but, eh.
So now you have this jumbles mess of hinges and wood. You probably hate the word hinges so we will not have to deal with it much longer. Now we need to make the little wooden bits that hold the base in place.
You must determine how tall they are going to be as this will be the same for each of them. If you used half inch plywood (like I asked you to) you will need to measure the depth of your case and subtract about an inch and a half from it. The number you just got it the size you need to cut each or your pieces.
One of the pieces will be attached to the base you are sick of making. Make sure it is as long as the center section of the base. For the smaller ones it really does not matter.
Step 6: Sand Sand Sand.
Now you have everything in place but you may find that you can not close the case or easily unfold the table. Little bits of wood are catching and need to be taken care of. Take your sanding block and smooth out these problems until the case closes smoothly and everything unfolds evenly.
Step 7: Now Get Working!
Paste your name on the front and start busking. Or perhaps
Finalist in the
Summer Camping Challenge