Wooden Suitcase




About: 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 Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

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!

2 People Made This Project!


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32 Discussions


1 year ago

I am thinking of making a few of these; but I need them to be as light as possible. How much does the finished case weigh?

1 reply

Reply 1 year ago

My finished case weighs about 5 pounds. Not the lightest, but it has held up well and I'm still using it 6+ years after making it.


6 years ago on Introduction

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!

1 reply

6 years ago on Introduction

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

DSC01224 - 1.JPGDSC01225 - 1.JPGDSC01226 - 1.JPGDSC01227 - 1.JPG
1 reply

7 years ago on Introduction

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!

1 reply

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!


7 years ago on Introduction

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.

1 reply

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



8 years ago on Introduction

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

1 reply