DIY Filing Desk

5 Materials
$10
2 Hours
Easy

I wanted to update my old filing cabinet desk and I didn't want to spend too much. I had these 6 year old filing cabinets bought from Walmart 6 years ago.
diy filing desk
Here are my old filing cabinets! I took the handles off and gave them a nice thorough sanding all over. The picture shows the locks, but I did take them out before painting.
diy filing desk
Especially the bottom. This is what happens when you hurry to set up your room after cleaning the carpet and not making sure the carpet is dry. YUCK!!! Steel wool to the rescue!
diy filing desk
Removed the drawers and cut a piece of cardboard to fit the opening and bottom to prevent overspraying the inside.

If you have to ask where to get cardboard that size, you're not shopping Amazon enough.
diy filing desk
Fit the bottom with the cardboard.
diy filing desk
First, I sprayed with Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer, then when dry, top coated with Valspar Outdoor Anti-Rust Paint & Primer in a Satin Oceanic color.
diy filing desk
Let them dry.
diy filing desk
Sprayed the chrome handles with Valspar's Outdoor Anti-Rust Paint & Primer in a gloss Peacock Blue.
diy filing desk
I moved the filing cabinets back in - topped it with a section of countertop. You can find these at any store that sells countertops. This piece is 5' wide. I did put felt spacers/sliders on the TOP of the filing cabinets to prevent any scratching from the counter top and on the bottom of the cabinets to prevent scratching the floor.
It's starting to look like a desk!

You can easily drill a hole(s) in the countertop to fish your wires through, if you wish.


diy filing desk
All finished! Those cabinets look SO much better now. I think I need a new chair....definitely a new chair cushion!
diy filing desk
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Have a question about this project?

9 questions
  • Tyn32255865
    on Feb 19, 2018

    How is this a $10 project? How much was each filing cabinet? How much was the countertop?
    • Dawn McGuire
      on Feb 19, 2018

      If you read correctly she stated she already had the cabinets from 6 years ago.
    • Tyn32255865
      on Feb 19, 2018

      It does. . . it also says you can pick up the countertop at any store that sells them. ??????????????????????
    • Jen
      on Feb 19, 2018

      We have 2 Habitate for Humanity Resale stores where I live and those same countertops plentiful and cheap. You could also check out Craigslist free section they seem to be on there regularly.
      Ive seen this done before but never with that type of countertop. Now it seems so obvious to have the back shield so little stuff doesn’t go rolling off. Thanks!
    • Karen J
      on Feb 19, 2018

      Home Depot and I believe, Lowes sells some stock countertops in different sizes. Great for DIYers.
    • Jan's Garden Art
      on Feb 19, 2018

      I already had the items (countertop and filing cabinets). All I did was purchase spray paint to update the filing cabinets.

      Any store that sells countertops: your local lumber dealer, lowes, home depot, Habitat Restore, etc. I went to a locally owned lumber/hardware store, got the best deal.
  • Bwl22167946
    on Feb 19, 2018

    Did you lose the use of the top drawer because of the overhang of the countertop?

    • Twila Mustain
      on Feb 19, 2018

      I don't think there are 'top' drawers in those filing cabinets, just the standard file drawers, though I could be wrong. It looks like the header is just bigger, so there's empty space behind it.


    • Jan's Garden Art
      on Feb 19, 2018

      Not at all. There's about a 1/4" clearance. So yes, all 3 drawers (on each cabinet) open fully and with no impediment.
  • Ver26687096
    on Feb 19, 2018

    How much was spent on the counter top?
    • Jan's Garden Art
      on Feb 19, 2018

      Believe it or not, about $25. :D Leftovers are great! Brand new - the person who ordered it decided not to get it.
    • Susan
      on Feb 19, 2018

      Lowes has them in all lengths ( 6 ft. is about $70 here- Arkansas) and even corner pieces - you can order them to exact size although it will cost a bit more

  • Bernice H
    on Feb 19, 2018

    Would you consider painting your chair the color of your desk,or a contrasting blue,or maybe black? Or maybe you want a cushy office chair? Nicely done..I know how easy this is to do..I did it,but for a desk I top used a hollow core door! Painted deep red. Black filing cabinets! We never used the drawers tho,they were in bad shape and didn’t really need them.
    • Jan's Garden Art
      on Feb 19, 2018

      I'm actually "in the hunt" for a new chair. Looking for something old, lots of character that I can stain. I'm thinking blue stain. :D
  • Jane
    on Feb 19, 2018

    Is the counter top granite? If it is how did you move it? Those things are HEAVY. We need to move one and haven’t succeeded so far.

    • Jan's Garden Art
      on Feb 20, 2018

      Not granite, simple laminate. Looks fabulous, doesn't it! Not as heavy either - I picked it up and placed it myself. Good luck with moving yours, sounds like a pizza & beer invite thing..."Hey, while you 4 big guys are here, I have this countertop....and more pizza & beer"

    • Jane
      on Feb 20, 2018

      It does look great. The pizza thing also sounds great. Let’s see, which four guys.....😊
    • Jan's Garden Art
      on Feb 20, 2018

      Pizza & beer have been my staples for any type of "heavy lifting". Haven't found a man to say no yet. LOL Just make sure they don't get more than 1 before they're done moving. Party is after, not before! LOL

  • Deborah
    on Feb 20, 2018

    Is the counter top affixed to the top of the file cabinets in any way? If not, how easy would it be to bump the top out of allignment (or off!) of the file cabinets?

    • Jan's Garden Art
      on Feb 20, 2018

      It just rests on the filing cabinet as stated above, the weight of the countertop does a good job of keeping it in place. I did put felt pads on to prevent scratching, but I've used this desk for 6 years now (I just updated the look) and have NEVER had the top fall off. It's in the middle of my living room, at the entryway to my door. 2 Doberman Pinschers running rampant through the house....lots of traffic, in other words. It's NEVER fallen off.

    • Carey
      on Feb 21, 2018

      I did this in my craft room and love it. I had my sweetheart put castors on both file cabinets so that if I want to move it, it is very easy. The counter top just lifts off and the cabinets roll easily.

    • LindLMac
      on Mar 5, 2019

      Deborah, I did this, but, I used a desk top, not a section of countertop. I attached the desk top to the filing cabinets by screwing them together with metal (flat) brackets! My desk top does NOT slip at all!!!

  • Amy Cunningham
    on Feb 21, 2018

    Hi Jan LOVE THIS What is the height of your file cabinets? I’m planning on doing this but I just need to make sure an office chair will fit underneath the top. Thank you very much
    • Jan's Garden Art
      on Feb 21, 2018

      Thank you Amy! The filing cabinets are 27 1/4" tall. Hope that helps!

    • LindLMac
      on Mar 5, 2019

      Amy I did this, using 2 standard height 2 drawer file cabinets. I have LOTS of room between the tops of my legs and the underside of my desk top!

  • Kathleen Hokanson
    on Feb 21, 2018

    Love this idea!! I have two pieces of countertop left in my basement & didn't know what to do with them! Think you could use milk crates on either side & have extra storage & use file cabinet off to side?
  • LadyAleta
    on Mar 5, 2019

    Love the idea! Do you think a four drawer tall filing cabinet with recessed handles could be cut in half to be used? If so, how would one cut it & make the cut parts not so sharp? I know the cabinet would be short, however if they were put on castors, that would give them height. I'm very short so I don't them a tall clearance under the desk. Thank you for your answer, Everyone. Really would appreciate them. :)

    • Diane Kehn
      on Apr 21, 2019

      It doesn’t matter what your height is, it matters that you can get a standard chair underneath so that you can sit comfortably at your new desk.

    • LadyAleta
      on Apr 21, 2019

      Thank you for your answer, Diane. I have an adjustable chair that if it is at regular height, my feet dangle off the floor. lol However, if it is at a height for my feet to be on the floor, then my desk level is bust level. Makes it hard for me either way. Haven't found a desk the right level for me unless it's way too expensive. So, the filing cabinet desk sounds like the right answer for me. Thanks, again! :)


Join the conversation

2 of 62 comments
  • Peggy Burnette
    on Mar 5, 2019

    You did a great job. Thank you for sharing.

  • Debra McMenamin
    on Mar 5, 2019

    Great idea. Reminds me of when my husband and I first met. He had a file cabinet on each side and had a wide, huge board on top as a desk. I was amazed at how much room was on the “desk “! It served us well for several years!

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