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Rusty File Cabinet Cactus Planter

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We've been looking for a way to add a little rustic to our house on a budget. When we came across an inexpensive file cabinet on Craigslist, we knew just what to do! We'll tell you how we achieved this rusty patina!
Cost: $50 Difficulty: Easy
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
We bought this old file cabinet from Craigslist
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
We removed multiple paint layers with chemical stripper, then sanded off the powder coat.
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
We wiped the raw metal with muriatic acid (pool acid). Please be careful and suit up if you use this stuff!
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
After a week of sitting with the acid, we had this nice rusty patina. We drilled drainage holes in the bottom of the planter with a metal drill bit. We then bought 12x12 square plastic planters and set them in the 12x14 drawer holes.
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
Since there was a 2" gap, we added a thin piece of fence board. The planters sit at an angle, but the angle actually aids with drainage.
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
Since we were planting cacti, we filled the planters partially with gravel and then filled the remainder with cactus-succulent soil that drains well.
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
We placed the planter on two bricks to aid with drainage and lawn work. We're happy with how it turned out! Once it reaches the perfect rusty patina, we will be stopping the rust with Penetrol by Flood and sealing with a clear polyurethane. As of now, we're still rusting away!
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents
  • rusty file cabinet cactus planter, flowers, gardening, repurposing upcycling, succulents

To see more: http://upcycledugly.com/rusty-file-cabinet-cactus-planter/

  • Jill Ron Pike
    Jill Ron Pike Payneville, KY

    I was so excited to see this! We happen to have an old file cabinet in a barn on our property (which is currently housing a mouse family--I'm sure they could find a different home). I was trying to figure out how to fix a small garden to avoid

    • Leslie
      Leslie Methuen, MA

      @Jill Ron Pike Nice Idea especially if you have a kitchen door that you can access the plater from :)

  • Leslie
    Leslie Methuen, MA

    Erin, what a great idea. Before I read your captions I thought the cabinet was wood and the file cabinet set inside, which I also thought was a good idea lol. Then I read your post, wonderful. I was also thinking that if a person didn't want to use

  • Sandy Wilkins
    Sandy Wilkins Dennis Port, MA

    I love this idea! I can see my lettuce growing in this on my patio! Nice and high so the wild bunnies can't reach it! Great idea! Thanks for posting!

  • Pat Berryhill
    Pat Berryhill Atlanta, GA

    Absolute genius idea! We have a little two drawer filing cabinet at home I was going to take to the curb. Now I know what to do with it - make a planter!

    • Resa
      Resa Hudson, FL

      @Pat Berryhill You can also use the cabinet for garage storage. Paint cabinet. Attach wheels to the 4 corners of what was the backside of the cabinet. Use wood blocks inside cabinet at each wheel site so the wheel screws have something strong to grab

  • Cynthia
    Cynthia Billings, MT

    I couldn't stop looking at your cute house! Love the paint job!

Inspired? Will you try this project? Let the author know!