How to make a vintage suitcase bar for your gin cocktail party

Whether you want a vintage looking Prosecco or gin bar at your wedding or something a little different at a birthday barbeque, then why not make a mobile suitcase bar. Simply fill it with a few glasses, a cocktail shaker and fancy straws, alcohol of your choice, position it on a table top and you are ready to party!

How to make a vintage suitcase bar for your gin cocktail party

MATERIALS USED:

  • A sturdy vintage suitcase or a small trunk
  • Wallpaper; 2 pieces the size of your chosen suitcase.
  • Ply wood, amount depends on the size of your suitcase. Ideally you will need up to 1.5 metre square.
  • Wood paint

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:

  • Circular saw
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Paint brush
  • PVA glue
  • Small tack nails
  • Hammer
  • Gorilla glue
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps
  • Scissors
  • Cloth and anti bacteria spray/cleaner

HOW TO MAKE THIS PROJECT 

Step 1: Choose a suitcase that is sturdy and that will easily sit well on a table top.

TOP TIP:
I chose an extending one which meant the lid would sit further away from the base when open.

Step 2: If there is a lining inside the case, carefully remove it. This is to stop any future rotting if it gets wet from any spillages.

How to make a vintage suitcase bar for your gin cocktail partyHow to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 3: Clean the suitcase fully inside and out and leave to fully dry.

Step 4: Measure the large part of the inside of the suitcase (a rectangle shape; both the lid and base.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 5: Cut the measured sizes of ply wood out using a circular saw. Gently sand the sides to remove any rough edges.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail barHow to make a vintage suitcase cocktail barStep 6: Place each cut rectangle piece of wood onto the wallpaper, and draw around with a pencil. Cut out the wallpaper using the scissors.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail barHow to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

TOP TIP:
I used patterned vintage wallpaper to add to the vintage feel – this is a Sanderson 1960s design. However, any pattern would work. If you don’t have any wallpaper you could always paint it.

Step 7: Using the paintbrush, apply PVA glue to the wood and carefully stick the wallpaper to it. Just like with any wallpaper, avoid bubbles by rubbing over the top with a sponge. Leave to dry.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar
How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 8: Apply Gorilla glue to the base of the wallpapered pieces and glue into position. These will need to be weighted down until the glue dries fully.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail barHow to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 9: Measure all 4 sides of the base part of the case and cut pieces to fit from the ply. Again, sand down the edges for a smooth finish.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 10: Paint all four pieces with a wood paint not forgetting the edges. This may need a few coats depending on the colour – when finished leave to dry fully.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

TOP TIP:

I chose a bright colour for a great summery finish for the suitcase bar.

Step 11: Close the lid onto the base, and with a pencil, mark where the lid finishes on the side of the case. Note down the measurement of how much is covered by the lid (mine was 2 inches). Open the lid and measure all four sides to determine the sizes needed for the frame. However, you will need to cut these narrower otherwise the case will not close when all the wooden frames are inside. Reduce the height measurement by the amount you noted down.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 12: Cut these 4 sides out of ply and apply the paint. Leave to dry fully.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail barStep 13: Put the sides into both the lid and base but do not glue now. Measure the width needed for any internal shelves. This is the time to decide what you want to store inside the case and therefore how many shelves you want.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 14: Remove the frame and apply Gorilla glue onto the back of each piece. Stick into position and clamp to make sure the sides of the case attach to the wood. This glue can run so stay close by to remove any glue from your wallpaper, using a clean cloth.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 15: Create any shelves that you want for your suitcase bar, by cutting the ply wood and painting fully. Remember any shelves for the lid section need to be narrower, just like the sides.

Step 16: If you want a shelf with glasses hanging down, find the glasses to help you with the measurements. Using the tape measure, measure the centre line of the shelf from end to end. Place the glasses on the line and space them evenly out. Mark, with a pencil the centre of each glass base.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 17: Measure the stem of the glass at its widest point and thinnest (mine was 2cm and 1cm). Find a round drill piece of the largest size (2cm) and drill out 4 circles in the shelf on the centre points that you marked. Using the sand paper, smooth the edges.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 18: Using the saw cut out a line from each circle to the edge of the wood which should be the small dimension (1cm) of the stem of the glass.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 19: Position all shelves into place. If you have measured exactly they should sit tightly in place. Using a small paintbrush, apply PVA glue along the edges which will dry clear. You may also need to apply some panel pins to firm them into place.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Step 20: When all the glue is dry, carefully paint over any glue if needed.

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

Set up the suitcase bar in the centre of a table, with more glasses and bottles if you have more people coming. Why not make a wooden sign to match with the words “Bar” on it? Then make yourself a cocktail, sit back and relax!

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail barHow to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

How to make a vintage suitcase cocktail bar

This is my suitcase bar article for Reloved Magazine whom I write for monthly. Have a look at my recent projects, How To Make A Magazine Rack From Copper Pipes and How To Make A 3 Tiered Tin Desk Tidy. 

Thanks to the following gin companies for the bottles for the shoot: Brockmans, Pothecary and Durham Gin.

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