Design & DIY

How to make an oak suitcase stand

Suitcase stand

Rustic yet refined, this oak suitcase stand gives guests a place to lay their luggage, then folds away for easy storage. The project takes its inspiration from a sawbuck — a cradle used to hold logs off the ground for cutting. Set a large tray on top, and the stand doubles as a one-of-a-kind occasional table.

1. Using 3/4″-thick oak for all parts, cut the four legs to finished width and length. Leave the ends square for the moment. Find and mark the centre of each leg (the location for the rotating connectors that allow the stand to fold) by drawing diagonals between opposing corners. Label the legs to keep track of their intended position and orientation. Make 45° cuts on the ends of each leg. The cuts should be parallel to one another.

2. Cut the two top pieces. Mark their ends for the notches that house the legs. To do this, clamp the piece to a flat surface. Hold a leg piece against the face to be cut, positioning its 45° end cut flush with the top. Use a combination square to ensure that it remains at 45° to the top. Position the leg as in the diagram. Scribe along each side, and mark the depth of the notch, equal to the thickness of the leg.

3. Cut notches carefully, with a fine handsaw and chisel. Make the outside cuts, followed by a series of closely spaced saw cuts between, all to the depth of the line scribed earlier. Then, use a sharp chisel to remove the waste. You can also use a router to make the cut.

Position legs so the distances labelled A are equal, then mark and cut notches in the tops, as precisely as you can.


Cutting list

4. Pre-drill the legs for a pair of 1/4″ dowels, 3/8″ below the top and 3/8″ in from each edge. Drill holes at the centre point of the legs for the rotating connectors, at least (8/16″ deep, using a 1/2″-dia. Forstner bit.

5. Sand parts, except for the closely fitted surfaces where the legs join the top pieces.

6. Join each pair of legs using rotating connectors: Dab wood glue in both holes, tap connector into place, put second leg on top, and tap home.

7. Attach the legs to the top pieces. Work with the tops clamped face down on a level surface. Apply glue to mating surfaces, clamp, and allow glue to cure. Use the dowel holes as a guide to continue drilling into 
the top pieces, to an overall depth of 2 1/2″. Glue dowels in place and trim flush.

8. Clamp the stretchers in place against 
the legs, making sure the legs, top, and stretchers are square and the edge of the stretcher sits flat against the leg face that will bear on it. Drill and countersink pilot holes for #8 x 1 1/2″ screws. Attach the stretchers with glue and screws.

9. Sand the project, rounding the edges of the top to reduce wear on the belts. Finish with several coats of pofalyurethane.

10. Wrap leather belts (the ones that hold up your pants work fine) around the top pieces, about 10″ apart, and fasten underneath with two #6 screws and trim washers on each end. Use a square to ensure the belts lie straight.

Red oak in off-the-shelf sizes is easily sourced, making quick work of this stand.


What you’ll need:

  • 3/4″ red oakeight
  • #8 x 1 1/2″ flat-head brass screws
eight #6 x 5/8″ flat-head brass screws

  • 8 brass finish washers
Two 1/2″ rotating connectors 
(also known as roto-hinges, they are available from specialty hardware retailers)

  • 1/4″-dia. dowel 
(cut eight 3″-long pieces)
2 leather belts or straps, 
approx. 1 1/2″ x 27″

  • wood glue
Suitcase stand
Photo by Laura Arsie