Repurposed Suitcases

2 Materials
6 Hours
I had been searching for a perfect shelf for a corner in my living room. Then I remembered two old suitcases that were just gathering dust in the basement. I had found the perfect solution!!
My two suitcases with "character."
I had to plan how I wanted to use the two suitcases. I decided that the small one would remain basically "as is" to be the top of the shelf unit. I liked that I could store things inside and close it up when I wanted them hidden from view.
This suitcase would become the top.
I knew that the bigger suitcase needed to be divided to become my two shelves. So I had to remove inside dividers and there was also some gluing that needed to be done. I clamped the glued area until it dried.
The larger suitcase in progress.
I had hoped the hinges would just come apart, but the suitcase was old and the hinges rusted tight.
These hinges would not just pry apart
I resorted to using grinder to separate the hinges.
I laid out the spacing on my "shelves."
I teach essential oils classes in my home and knew I wanted the bottom shelf to have room to hold the many books I use as resources. So I laid the shelf pieces sideways and spaced the side boards that would become the support legs.
Starting to look like my envisioned shelves.
It was ready to go outside to get the wood sanded and to do staining.
Shelf upside down to do bracing.
I added bracing underneath all the shelves for the support they would need to hold books.
The very bottom shelf would be holding books. So I added an extra brace across the middle of it. The suitcase was a hard-sided suitcase, but I didn't think it would hurt to add a bit of extra support.
Getting stained.
My finished shelf with lid open.
I am thrilled with my shelf unit!! I store handouts for my classes, remote controls, etc. in the top suitcase. When not needed, the lid is down and the clutter is out of sight. I have since added more resource books to the bottom shelf and some nice LED candles. It is exactly what I was looking for!!
Suggested materials:
  • Two suitcases   (My basement)
  • 1 x 4s, and 1 x 2s, screws, stain   (Lowes)
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  1 question
  • Dl.5660408 Dl.5660408 on May 13, 2017
    Did you do anything to the outside of the suitcases? I really, really think they're lovely

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4 of 46 comments
  • Mcschowengerdt Mcschowengerdt on Jun 19, 2017
    Very nice idea!!!

    • Barbrie Barbrie on Jun 19, 2017
      Thank you!!! I don't know what I did before it. It is so useful, especially the top one that I can close and hide the contents.

  • Mcschowengerdt Mcschowengerdt on Jun 19, 2017
    I was impressed with the way you accounted for the unlevel part of the suitcase the way you were able to balance it without trouble

    • Barbrie Barbrie on Jun 19, 2017
      Thanks! What I lack in creativity or artistic talents I make up for in my details. I taught math my whole life, and things need to be level for me to be happy. I was glad that it worked in reality like it did in my mind. (I can't say that things always do on the first try, but this time it did). :-)