Introduction: Suitcase Shelves
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
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......!