Workspace in a Suitcase




Introduction: Workspace in a Suitcase

Hello and welcome to another instructable on my part - a minor idea I had for quite a while which I finally realized.

Some of you might know the problem: There is no permanent space in your flat for a proper work bench or just a table for crafting.

And the "good" furniture shouldn't be used without further preparation such as a separate wooden board. Furthermore, the more specific kinds of crafting you try, the more tools you gather - some might even have a case for themselves but most will be stored in cardboardboxes - functional but not very nice to look at.

I too had that very problem and tried to come up with a solution: The "workspace in a suitcase".

The idea behind the name is probably pretty obvious: A highly mobile storage case for tools combined with an included work surface capable of being set up within mere seconds.

What you will need for the project:

- a suitcase (adaptable in measurements, mine is 50x40x15xcm)

- a wood board (38,5x48x5, fitting the inner dimensions of your suitcase)

- some kind of foamblock

- a piece of foam-mat (e.g. an old camping mat)

- a storage box for small parts like supplies for your tools (should fit into the lid of the suitcase)

- too short straps of leather, fabric, etc.


- Glue

- a cutting blade

- wood oil

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Step 1: Preparing the Work Surface

Since the wood oil will need a few hours to dry, I would recommend to start with the preparation of the eventual work surface.

Cut your wooden board (about 10-15mm diameter recommended) fitting your suitcase. Try to be as precise as possible, the next step will add some clearance for better movement in the end.

When the board fits, sand it with sandpaper to smooth out the surface and the edges. Depending on how much you take away you can influence the firmness with which the board will fit.

You can add some kind of edge protection, just remember to include that within your measurements.

If you're pleased with the result, get some wood oil and oil the front and the edges. Skip the back or else the glue won't work.

You could repeat the oiling several times, but in my experience once is enough.

Step 2: Designing the Storage

While the oil dries, you can proceed with the next step: The preparation of the suitcase.

First, make sure which tools to include. Up to now, I added only a Dremel and a wood burning tool but I plan to include a soldering iron and maybe a small gluegun in the future.

Depending on the foam you use (e.g. styrofoam, etc) you will have to cut the depth of the block: The foam shouldn't be to soft, otherwise you might have to add additional supports to prevent the wood board from sinking in.

Measure the inner hight of the suitcase and subtract the diameter of your board plus the foam mat that will be added in the next step.

Cut the foam block into that thickness. (Better do this step before sculpting the intendations for your tools, I had to struggle quite a bit to keep the block from falling apart and keeping it somewhat even...)

Next, sketch out where the tools will be placed. Just a little bit like Tetris, try to find the most space-saving configuration. If you're satisfied with the layout, take the cutter and shape the recesses.

Step 3: Preparing the Lid

To integrate some kind of storage room for small pieces (e.g. dremel attachments, small supplies, etc.) I decided to add a prebuilt box from the hardware store - cheap, fairly stable and easy to attach.

As you can see, I had to cut out some of the foam in the lid to make room, but this certainly depends on the used suitcase. Simply use glue to attach the box to the lid.

Some words on the box:
Make sure the height of the box doesn't exceed the depth of your lid, otherwise you won't be able to close the suitcase any more.

I wouldn't recommend boxes with drawers, as these would drop out during opening the case.

Take a good look at the hinges build in the suitcase - the strength of these determines the load you can attach to the lid without the whole thing becoming unstable.

I will probably add another of these boxes, depending on how much storage room I'll need in the future - we'll see.

Step 4: Finishing the Work Top

When the oil is dry, just polish the top with a piece of cloth before continuing.

Then, take the foam mat and cut out a piece the same size as the board. I used double sided tape to attach the foam to the back of the board, since most glues will dissolve foam materials and the few specifically designed glues are quite expensive. And since the whole thing is designed to be a work surface after all I tried to keep it cheap.

Before attaching the mat, pin two loops of leather/fabric to both sides.

Afterwards, assemble the two parts and cut off protruding pieces.

This step is completely optional if you decide to always work "within" the suitcase. However, the foam attachment provides a very non-slippery and surface-protecting basis for the wood board. Plus, it adds another cushion for the tools below.

Step 5: Finish

Now, if everything is in place, your new "Workspace in a suitcase" is finished!

There are endless possibilities to customize this project, depending on what kind of crafting you specialize in as well as there are variations for designing the workplace itself. I might be adding thirds or a light in the future.

If you have ideas for customizing the whole thing further, post them in the comments - I'm eager to read your thoughts on this.

If you like the project and the instructable itself feel free to leave a comment or give me a vote in the running "small spaces" contest.

Hope to see you soon and keep crafting!

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    4 Discussions


    5 years ago

    Nice! I tried something similar a few years back with a zero case I had acquired. I even managed to purchase the inner brackets and aluminum divider plate from the manufacturer, but in the end, it wasn't meant to be. I wanted the whole thing to be on a hinge, and just couldn't get it to work. Maybe I'll give it another shot now that you've given us an example of success.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks :)
    First, I thought of making the plate foldable as well, but I concluded that that would be an unnecessary constraint to the possibilities - after all, the whole thing is a lot more versatile if not conjoined. Plus, way easier to build :D