Filing Cabinet-Turned-Garage Organization

16 Materials
3 Hours

For the last few years, Rob and I have had this ugly, old filing cabinet down in our basement. He got it from his uncle and we used it to store his old business files, tax documents, and other paperwork that we didn't need on a daily basis but when we decided to overhaul the basement, we decided we were going to put it to the curb. However, I came across a really cool idea that ended up not being as much work as I had thought it would be, and now this ugly, clunky hunk of metal looks a whole lot nicer and is serving a purpose!

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-sheet of peg board
-old filing cabinet
-Do It Best painter's tape
-12v DeWalt drill (choose a bit that will allow for the screw of your casters to fit through)
-sanding block
-3" and 4" paint brushes
-4 casters with brakes
-washers and nuts for casters (You'll want to find the ones that fit to the casters...the casters we purchased did not come in a kit.)
-Rustoleum flat white protective enamel
-Rustoleum hammered copper paint
-Everbilt locking peg hook assortment
-HDX rubber/latex gloves (optional)

Not pictured:
-box cutter
-Teks #8 x 1 in. Phillips Fine Zinc-Plated Steel Truss-Head Drill Point Lath Screws

STEP 1: Prep cabinet
Before the fun parts of painting this ugly cabinet, I had to prep it. I pulled out all of the drawers and unfortunately put them by the road for the metal man to come collect them--too bad they couldn't become another project!

Once the drawers were removed, I roughed up the sides and knocked off the rust with a sanding block. I didn't go too crazy with this part because the goal was just to prepare the surface enough for the paint to get a good hold.

STEP 2: Paint cabinet
Next, I applied one coat of the copper paint to the cabinet. Feel free to do more coats! I felt like with the hammered finish, one coat was good enough coverage for me because at the end of the day, this cabinet would be holding tools in the garage anyway. Rob had warned me that the paint would possibly be a little runny and thin but surprisingly, it was thicker than I had imagined and it gave a good, even coat without being streaky.

*Note: if you're using the same paints that I did in this post, make sure you're painting in a well-ventilated area. I would have preferred to paint this outside but it was just too cold and we didn't have good enough lighting in the garage so I opened up the doors and windows of our basement, Rob got some fans going, and I was good-to-go with painting without the smell of fumes.

STEP 3: Add design (optional)
I could have just left our garage organization cabinet copper but I wanted to add a little something to it so it didn't look like a plain box so I decided to add some stripes. I used painter's tape to mask off 3 lines in different widths...

...then, I painted in the 3 lines with flat white protective enamel paint and let that dry completely.

Once the white paint was completely dry, I removed the painter's tape and was left with 3 nice, clean, crisp lines for a bit of an added touch.

STEP 4: Add casters
After the painting was done, I flipped the cabinet on it's back and drilled 4 holes into the bottom corners. I inserted the casters, then reached in to the inside of the cabinet to secure each caster with a washer and nut.

STEP 5: Add peg board and pegs
Unfortunately, I was only able to add peg board to one end of the cabinet because, what used to be the top of the cabinet was solid, so unless I cut a huge hole in the metal, I wouldn't be able to use peg board on that end. Thus, I only added peg board to the end that used to be the bottom of the filing cabinet.
Rob measured the end of the cabinet for it's dimensions, then marked the peg board with those measurements. After that, he used a T-square and a box cutter to cut the peg board, and used the edge of my work table to snap the board at the cut line. This was easier than dragging out the table saw!

To attach the peg board to the cabinet, I used four 1 1/2" lath screws we had on hand. Make sure you pay attention to where you're putting the screws in because you want to make sure you're going into the metal.

Lastly, I added a few pegs to hang small tools that we keep in our garage. You'll also want to pay attention to where you're putting in the pegs because if your cabinet is like mine, you're limited to where you can put the pegs in around the edges because the metal lip of the bottom of the cabinet prohibits the pegs from going in. I had to put my pegs 2-3 "holes" in from the edge.

I love this little organization idea! It's the perfect way to keep all of our rakes, shovels, etc. together and out of the way. This filing cabinet didn't come with dividers and we decided not to add them in but feel free to get some slats of wood to create 4 separate boxes within your cabinet!
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 23 questions
  • Lynn
    on Jan 19, 2019

    Couldn't casters have been added to the drawers too ..then you could use them as pullouts under existing shelves

  • Jo Falasca
    on May 29, 2019

    What did you do with the drawers?

    • Lola
      on Jun 5, 2019

      If you read what she wrote, she said she had put them out at the curb for recycling & apparently they had been picked up when she wished she had them for another project.

  • Nigel
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Wouldn't it be easier to just build a box instead of using a filing cabinet ??

Join the conversation

2 of 196 comments
  • Mary
    on May 11, 2020

    So many people have a filing cabinet just sitting around, I have 2 that are old and extremely sturdy and found they are great to store canned goods and dry supplies in, I do repackage my dry supplies either in a heavy duty Ziploc bag or vacuum seal. If you have some with hanging folders you can store extra plates, I would staple the sides and just slide one in each folder or easily stack them in the drawer with a thin piece of cardboard between them. Holiday dinnerware and baking supplies like cookie cutters, tins, silverware, a great place to put extra crock pots, carafe's, etc.. I would only store linens and cloth items in them if I put them in a vacuum sealed bag first to prevent stains. They are a great place for cards, bags, ribbons, and shorter rolls of wrapping paper unless you have an horizontal cabinet. Use as a miniature gift closet. Emergency items can also be stored all in one place, batteries, lanterns, medical supplies, candles, vacuum sealed blankets, canned goods and disposable dinnerware. One way to better organize and clear things out of your cabinets that you only use a couple times a year.

  • Maureen
    on May 12, 2020

    Great idea!! You saved an old filing cabinet..good for you. I love all your ideas, you're both very creative. Thank you for sharing ❤️

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