Old Metal File Cabinet Makeover

3 Materials
2 Days

Old Metal File Cabinet turned into Trash Bin Holder
This is a before picture of the old file cabinet.
First I cleaned it, then I painted it with my homemade Chalk Paint. 2 coats was enough for me. After, I sealed with Polycrylic.
For the bottom, I added casters into a 3" wood strip, than a used liquid nail + some screws to attach into file cabinet. 
For the top, I was going to use wood, but at Home depot there was some FREE MDF , oh yeah! I painted the MDF also with my homemade chalk paint, then I sealed it with 2 coasts of Polycrylic.
I also purchased 2 new trash bins at Target ( its a perfect fit for the drawer) Named: Curver, Mistral Pivot Lid - 7 gallons.
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Have a question about this project?

16 questions
  • Edi12891280
    on Jun 12, 2017

    What is mdf?
    • Mary Mosti
      on Jun 12, 2017

      Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibres, often in a defibrator, combining it with wax and a resin binder, and forming panels by applying high temperature and pressure. MDF is generally denser than plywood.

  • Jea2293885
    on Jun 12, 2017

    How do i make your chalk paint?
  • Pj Brown
    on Jun 12, 2017

    What is your 'recipe' for homemade chalk paint? I like this idea for deep drawers in my kitchen, which I don't have. It would be a perfect fit for my big pots and my endless collection of plastic containers with lids. Thank you
    • Carol Dean
      on Jun 12, 2017

      I found her recipe for home made chalk paint by going to the upper left corner of this site and using the search feature. :) I hope this helps.
    • Carol Dean
      on Jun 12, 2017

      I found her recipe for home made chalk paint by going to the upper left corner of this site and using the search feature. :) I hope this helps.
    • Kristi Martin
      on Jun 12, 2017

      that's a wonderful idea for the pots and pans with lids! I was also thinking its a good way to store appliances that aren't used as often.
    • Dpbeee2
      on Jun 12, 2017

      This is brilliant! Thanks
  • Kerry Trout
    on Jun 12, 2017

    As much as we use our kitchen waste basket we would be worn out leaning down to open a drawer first. This is a clever idea if you are super tight on space and need the added surface.
    • Joyce
      on Jun 12, 2017

      Looking at the second picture in the post, the top of the wastebasket is exposed, so you wouldn't need to bend over to open the drawer. I am guessing that the second can in the back might be for recycling container.

    • Katholc
      on Jun 12, 2017

      I think this would also be great as a recycle bin.
    • Cris Darling
      on Jun 12, 2017

      yes. You are correct the recycle is the back. The first one is for trash you don't have to open it all the time to throw the garbage. Lol!
    • Robin Brewer
      on Jun 12, 2017

      pEven if you had to open it you could use long yard stick to put inside a handle or right into the drawer and pull out. I have a bad back so that's what I would do. You could put a command strip hanger on the inside/ outside of cabinet drill a hole in the stick and voila!!!!! Let me know what you think.

  • Jjshelburne
    on Jun 12, 2017

    Great idea is one for trash and one for recycle? I can see so many uses for this
    system even in the laundry.
    • Cris Darling
      on Jun 12, 2017

      Yes! The back one is for recycle and the front bin for trash.
  • Bob Harrington
    on Jun 12, 2017

    Do you share your recipe for your homemade chalk paint??

    • Barb in Texas
      on Jun 12, 2017

      There's a ton of them. I've had good luck with calcium carbonate (amazon.com) and regular latex paint. Buy it in the color you like, the CC doesn't change the color.
    • Ruby
      on Jun 12, 2017

      Question? Bob Harrington do you live in Texas also. My maiden name is Harrington and I had a brother named Robert who went by Bob. He died in 2004. He lived in Houston. The name gave my heart a jolt. Miss him so much.
  • Monica
    on Jun 12, 2017

    maybe i missed it, but was wondering how you attached the MDF to the top of the cabinet. Great recycling btw!!!
    • Cris Darling
      on Jun 12, 2017

      You can use liquid nail. Or just leave on top if you don't want it to be permanen.
  • Jan20814456
    on Jun 13, 2017

    How will you keep it from tipping forward when you have some weight in the trash bins? A filing cabinet always tips forward if there is no top drawer to counterbalance when the bottom drawer is pulled out.
    • Kalinda Smith
      on Jun 13, 2017

      That's the other way around. It tips over if the top drawer is open without the bottom one open also. The top drawer being open without the bottom drawer being open makes the weight distribute to the top and forward. It would be top-heavy.
    • Kim
      on Jun 13, 2017

      Nope, Janderwores is right here.
    • AM
      on Jun 13, 2017

      You could fill up the back trash can first?

      Wondering if the casters would make a difference in balancing out the weight. Otherwise, there's got to be an easy-ish way to attach something on the back or back-bottom that has enough weight.

    • Guy
      on Jun 17, 2017

      Top heavy, tall, filing cabinets tend to tip; this is neither. The weight of this metal cabinet should be more than sufficient to counter any weight you could load in the front can. My problem with this design is how do you get trash to the rear can? Do you have to bend over and pull the drawer handle each time? Cool reuse idea but not for my old back :)
    • Lynette
      on Jan 8, 2018

      You can always add a .....(leg)... under the edge of the drawer.....
      could even be a wheel, as long as it keeps the height even when drawer pulled out.
    • Gar2275764
      on Jan 12, 2018

      If you are concerned about tipping, you could bolt the back of cabinet to the wall. I’d put a board on the wall first and fasten the cabinet to it.
    • Mcgypsy9
      on Mar 25, 2018

      Or put a block of wood between the two front wheels.

    • Doree Ramilo Oostdyk
      on Apr 9, 2018

      I guess you could just interchange the bins. Once the front one is full, move it to the back, and vice versa.

    • Diena Cameron
      on Jul 17, 2018

      I would think that once the front can is full that Cris would take it outside to the large trash can and empty it and once the recycle bin is full in the back bin, that also goes outside to the streetside recycle bins. I think it's a great idea for an upcycle of something that normally winds up in the landfill or with piles of others at the Goodwill ! Thanks Cris Darling, now I know what to do with mine 😀 I do have a question for you Chris, is the MDF on top purely for esstedics or was there a purpose that I overlooked ? Thanks again !

  • Debra
    on Jun 27, 2017

    What is the ratio to mix one gallon of paint?
  • Carol
    on Sep 19, 2017

    What's MDF?
    • Cris Darling
      on Sep 20, 2017

      mdf board, see pic.
      , This is mdf
    • Coo22662456
      on Feb 22, 2018

      Medium Density Fiberboard
    • Patricia
      on Mar 2, 2018

      This is a great way to dress up the aesthetics of a trash can. Love it! I could envision using this in my craft room for paper scraps. TFS

    • Karen Dunnam
      on Jul 19, 2018

      It's a cardboard product that's pressed into thick layers. Not suitable for damp locations.

  • Kat5489525
    on Jun 3, 2018

    How did you make your own chalk paint?

    • Lilpixiestixxx
      on Jul 19, 2018

      Calcium Carbonate{very easy to find I got huge bag on ebay for a couple dollars, or any grocery store or drug store or amazon},Paint and water makes a smooth cheaper chalk paint there are many recipes online for this method. Big Tip: always mix the CC with the water then add to your paint for a smoother chalk paint. But the CC, paint,water is what I have found works best. However there are recipes using baking soda or plaster of paris which I find doesn't mix as smoothly for me. ~smiles~ hopes this helps you.

  • Theresa
    on Jul 19, 2018

    How do you reinforce the drawer to accommodate the weight of the bins and bin contents?

    • Lin Collins
      on Jul 26, 2018

      Given how small the file cabinet is, both bins cannot be that heavy even when full. I doubt the need for reinforcement exists. Otherwise perhaps a piece of plywood cut to fit?

    • Toni
      on Jul 26, 2018

      Thank you, Lin Collins!! LOL @ Cth whatever... what are you throwing in your trash, CONCRETE BLOCKS?? LMAO

    • Cris Darling
      on Jul 27, 2018

      i didn’t have to reinforce it at all.

    • Tracey Jackson
      on Jul 27, 2018

      The top piece probably adds the extra weight you expect it needs, it will stop any tipping. (Some of us have used these filing cabinets for files and when you open both drawers the metal cabinet is so light that it will tip forward. )

  • Crystle Gibson
    on Jul 19, 2018

    How do you weight the file cabinet when the bins are full and you pull the drawer opened to empty them?

    • Tracey Jackson
      on Jul 27, 2018

      The top piece she added will help supply the counter weight that the light-weight metal cabinet would need.

  • Melody
    on Jul 19, 2018

    Good idea, but don't you have to reach all the way to the bottom to pull the trash bin out ? This is not practical, but it might work for some and look nice in an office .

    • Lin Collins
      on Jul 26, 2018

      Where did you get the idea one has to reach all the way to "the bottom"? Regardless, what kind of garbage can doesn't require some form of lifting or bending? This idea appears to be very practical. That it can easily be moved about a room if needed is only an added bonus.

    • Tracey Jackson
      on Jan 19, 2019

      I have seen others where they take out top drawer, remove the bottom. Put it back in and somehow attach top to bottom drawer. Then you have a completely closed in garbage bin. And it slides out with either handle. Its completely closed in for those w animals/little ones who may pick at trash. In that recycle they also replaced hardware to fit your style. I personally want to do that recycle, my dog is a trash picker.

  • Jeannine
    on Aug 3, 2018

    What is MDF?

    • Cris Darling
      on Aug 3, 2018

      Medium-density fibreboard,

      any other type of wood also works.

    • Jewellmartin
      on Feb 26, 2019

      Medium grade plywood works the same. Sanding and caulking can give nice smooth edges.

  • Susan Morris
    on Aug 15, 2018

    You mentioned Home Made Chalk Paint.... could you share the recipe?

Join the conversation

2 of 87 comments
  • Mimi
    on Aug 21, 2018

    Love your idea and your presentation! I am thinking for me this would solve my recycle bin problem...neat, compact, and convenient. I could label the lids of the bins, "Plastic" and "Paper." Thank you so very much!

  • Clergylady
    on Feb 10, 2019

    Nice recycle idea!

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