How to Make a Suitcase Table

Holy moly, I finally got a DIY project done! I've been busy doing some good so doing some DIY had to wait a while. I made a vintage suitcase table out of, you guessed it, a vintage suitcase and an old crappy end table we never got rid of for my little dude's room. And it turned out ah-may-zing. (angels singing AHHHHHH here).

When the little man was about two and a half, we ditched his crib (it's still in the garage waiting for me to awesomely DIY something out of it... husband is thrilled about moving it each time he needs the lawnmower. #wifesablogger #sorryhun) and scored him some awesome Craig's List bunk beds. The lower bed is really low to the ground since it's supposed to be under the upper bed. However, we don't have it under the upper bed because he can't feel the ceiling fan under there and well, we live in Florida and it's hot. ALL. THE. TIME. :)  So, having it off to the side leaves room for an end table for a book and a night light and other super important things like rock collections (they're really just chunks of cement from parking lots, but we go with it). 

But here's the problem. Regular height nightstands/end tables are too high. They're at perfect smack-your-head-on-me-every-night height with his ultra lowrider bed. No bueno.
On top of that, the only end table we had when he got these bunk beds was a really junky one that we've had forever that has almost made its way to the curb numerous times. But he really wanted a table so there ya have it. Time to DIY.

I really love the look of vintage suitcases being repurposed into decor and I thought this would be a great use of one in my house. It makes for a large flat table surface, and a place to hide all of his super secret preschool treasures.

To make a table like mine, you will need:
  • Small vintage suitcase (I got mine at an antique market for $10)
  • Old end table you don't mind cutting up
  • Saw (I used a small hand saw and a table saw... the table saw is not necessary if you get the guys at the hardware store to cut your piece of wood for you)
  • Drill
  • Wood Glue
  • Ruler
  • Hardware (a few screws and some small L brackets)
  • Primer
  • Paint

Junky table: check.

Step 1:
Figure out how tall you want your new suitcase table to be.
I measured the height of the bed. Then I measured the height of the suitcase and determined how tall my legs needed to be.  I wanted the table close to even with the height of the bed.

Step 2:
Measure and cut your legs to the right height.
I could have used the table saw for this part too, but I really didn't want to get it out of its spot in the garage. You know, the crib is in the way and all. Haha  A hand saw worked just fine and I got a little arm workout.

Note, the cuts were not 100% straight so I sanded them a bit to flatten everything out.

Step 3:
Cut a base for the suitcase to sit on.
I used a scrap piece of 1/4" plywood leftover from the Toy Box Makeover but you might be able to use the existing top of the table you're taring apart.  Mine was too thick for the look I was going for, plus I had the scrap wood in my garage. If you're using a piece of wood, the hardware store can cut it for you if you don't have a table saw. Cut it slightly smaller than the suitcase.

I cut mine a tiny bit too big and had to trim a little. Also, since the corners of the suitcase are rounded, I rounded the edges of the plywood with a sander.  You can avoid doing this by just cutting the base small enough.

Now this part really isn't a step since not everyone will have a shelf to deal with, but my table was actually a little too deep. If you look in the pic above, you can see the table legs sticking out past the front of the suitcase a little. The shelf was making the base a little to large for the top.

So, I had to trim the shelf down about an inch and drill new holes for these thingies to stick in. No biggie! Just figure it out as you go.

Ta da. Table base!

Step 4:
Secure the top you just cut to the legs. 
I used some wood glue and nails, but you could screw this together too.

Step 5:
Prep for paint.
I sanded the whole base and gave it a light coat of primer (well, my kid did the primer).

Step 5:
I chose a matte-finish spray paint for this table but you could do whatever you wanted. If you're spray painting, do several light coats and let it dry completely in between to avoid a sticky finish.

Step 6:
Add hardware.
I wanted to do the nail head look on this table but since I never plan ahead and no where within 5 miles sells nail heads, I went with thumb tacks. They worked great! 

I'll blame the fact that line of them on the front is a bit wiggly on the 4 year old applying them. I can do that, right? ;)

I also picked up a few gold L brackets from the hardware store. They are really cheap (like $2 a pack) and screwed a few in here and there as a decorative element. I think a couple of them are holding the shelf on a bit.

Step 7
Screw the suitcase in place.
I just screwed the suitcase to the legs from the inside and I was done.

I love that he calls it his "secret hiding spot". I think he feels like a spy. Only the most secret stuff goes inside.

So what do you think? Depending on the amount of modification you have to do to the old table, I think this project could be done in an afternoon. My "nail heads" might be wiggly, but I hardly think the little boy who now has a super secret spy table cares.

I think I have an end table makeover problem. Here's a few more if you're interested.


  1. such a cute idea! and I love that it also stores (hides) trinkets!

  2. What an AWESOME idea. What better way to utilize a vintage suitcase.

    1. Thanks! My son still "locks up" all of his super secret treasures in there. He looks at it like his own personal safe. haha Today I saw a hair brush and Legos go in. :)