Suitcase Shelves




Introduction: Suitcase Shelves

I enjoy taking a pile of junk and making something unusual out of it. I like wheeled vehicles, ...

My wife had been after me for some time to put the suitcases upstairs, so I finally got the hint...

Actually, she got this idea from a magazine -- cutting up some old suitcases and making shelves out of them. We began accumulating a few old suitcases (and a train case and an old wood tool case) and decided to make these and mount them on a wall in our media room.

The materials required for this project were:

- old suitcases
- about 6 square feet of 1/2 inch plywood
- about 10 feet of pine 1x2 lumber
- wood screws
- toggle bolts for mounting the cases on sheetrock
- painters tape (for marking cutting line)

The tools used were:

- scroll saw with metal cutting blade
- drill & bits
- screwdriver

Step 1: Remove the Lining

The first thing I did was to rip out the lining from each suitcase. I suppose you don't absolutely have to do this, but I think it could get really messy when you start sawing into the suitcase if you don't. The lining for each suitcase came out relatively easy -- I just grabbed a corner and started pulling.

Step 2: Mark Case for Cutting

I wanted to make the shelves 6 inches deep, so I wrapped the area to be cut with painters tape, then measured and drew a line at the 6 inch point all the way around the suitcase. The painters tape made the line easy to see, and kept the shoe of my scroll saw from marring the surface. It also helps to keep the suitcase from coming apart after you've cut most of the way around.

Step 3: Saw Off the Part You Don't Want

Cutting the suitcase was easy. I used a metal cutting blade in my scroll saw because most of the cases had a metal band around the middle (where the lid meets the bottom of the case) that I had to cut through.

Step 4: Build a Mounting Panel

Next I made a wooden panel to fill the opening of the cut suitcase. This panel has two purposes: (1) it reinforces the opening (keeps it from sagging); and (2) it provides a means of mounting the suitcase on the wall.

I made the panel from some scrap plywood I had left over from a previous project, and outlined it with 1x2 pine (to provide a place to screw the suitcase onto). I could have used thicker plywood and omitted the 1x2 strips, but I decided to use what I had, which was a bit thin to attach the screws to.

I pre-drilled all the holes, but didn't attach screws into the lid of the suitcase until after it was mounted (you need to get inside the suitcase to screw it to the wall).

Step 5: Mount on Wall

Mounting the cases to the wall involved removing the lids, drilling through the wood panel on the back, and using sheetrock anchors.

Once attached to the wall, I reinstalled the lids and replaced the screws that attach the lid to the wood panel in the back.

All that's left to do is for my wife to decide what she wants to put on these new "shelves." Fortunately, I'm not allowed to do the decorating......!



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    53 Discussions

    I adore this idea! What magazine was it in....might have some other cool ideas as well! Thanks for sharing.

    3 replies

    Sorry, but I don't know what magazine it was in. My wife has the habit of tearing out pictures and articles from magazines, and she saw this one in a magazine she purchased while we were on a road trip. I think the magazine probably got deposited in a hotel wastebasket. Thank you for your comments!

    I have this SAME magazine! Flea Market Style. Fall/Winter 2011 issue. Definitely a must have issue!

    How funny I'm looking at it right now in Flea Market Style 2015-they must recycle articles :)

    as a collector of vintage and antique suitcases I cringe at this, but as a repurposer I smile, while destroying perfectly good suitcases just to be made into shelves hurt deep inside, there are plenty of tattered, broken, and unwanted suitcases out there that could be given a new life

    1 reply

    You do realize that everything you dispose of today will someday be considered a "vintage" item that someone will collect, don't you?

    Hi.....I've been wanting to do this for a long time but could never find much on "how" to do, thanks! However, I'm not really that "handy", so could you either explain in simple terms or do a tutorial showing "how" to actually mount it to a wall...just telling me what I need to do it isn't enough for my nimble The explanation of cutting the suitcase was great, just need to know how to get it hung up. Thanks again.

    1 reply

    These are Great! They look like something out of a decorating magazine! :)

    Super great instructable! I've been wanting to make one of these for a while, you were just the inspiration I needed! Here's the one I put up last night using your instructable.
    1 reply

    great instructable
    GREAT idea
    as sharp as a KNIFE

    Thanks for the nice words. If my wife hadn't saw something like this in a magazine, I wouldn't have thought of it either!

    It would be cool if you can open them, so you can store things inside and on them.
    And I just have this blank space in my bedroom wall and I was looking for something to put that wasn´t just decorative.

    1 reply

    I suppose you could fix them where they would open -- you could make a 2nd cut across the top and hinge it. You would probably have to slant the cut on the sides a small amount toward the front to allow for the lid to clear the bottom section, but it would probably work. I didn't consider storing anything inside these, since they're designed to be used as shelves. Thanks for your comment.