Make Your Own Suitcase Shelves!

I really wish I had seen this suitcase shelves project last week. I was out with my husband thrifting and we saw a whole collection of old suitcases I could have used for this! I even thought about buying them and then figuring out something to do with them later, but my husband gave me the “look”. You know, the “you already have a ton of materials at home you haven’t used yet you don’t need anymore” look. It’s a look that is difficult to argue with. Anyway, for those of you out there with some vintage suitcases you don’t know what to do with, here is this cool tutorial from Instructables:


  • • Old suitcases
  • • About 6 square feet of 1/2 inch plywood
  • • About 10 feet of pine 1×2 lumber
  • • Wood screws
  • • Toggle bolts for mounting the cases on sheetrock
  • • Painters tape (for marking cutting line)


  • • Scroll saw with metal cutting blade
  • • Drill & bits
  • • Screwdriver

Step 1: Remove the lining

The first thing you need to do is rip out the lining from each suitcase. 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 should come out relatively easily — just grab a corner and start pulling.

Step 2: Mark case for cutting

To make the shelves 6 inches deep, wrap the area to be cut with painters tape, then measure and draw a line at the 6 inch point all the way around the suitcase. The painters tape make the line easy to see, and keeps the shoe of the 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 is easy. Use a metal cutting blade in a scroll saw because most of the cases have a metal band around the middle (where the lid meets the bottom of the case) that you will have to cut through.

Step 4: Build a mounting panel

Next, make 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.

Make the panel from some scrap plywood, and outline it with 1×2 pine (to provide a place to screw the suitcase onto).

Pre-drill all the holes, but don’t attach screws into the lid of the suitcase until after it is 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 sheet rock anchors.

Once attached to the wall, reinstall the lids and replace the screws that attach the lid to the wood panel in the back.