From Office to Garden: Filing Cabinet to Garden Planter

I totally snagged this wonderful project from Carole in Australia who posted her version last week. I loved this so much I went right to work with my own planter. Here's what I came up with...
The hunt for a filing cabinet took me to my nearby Habitat Restore. I found several orphaned filing cabinets, one of which was older, made of thicker gauge metal, and (most importantly) had a bottom. It cost me $15. They probably would have taken $10 but it’s the restore. They need that $5.
Step 1: Remove the drawers.
Most filing cabinet drawers are removed by fully extending the drawer and then lifting up. The drawer is then detached from the extension mechanism.
If you pull the extension mechanism out, you will notice that it stops at some point. Look for a tab on the mechanism. By lifting this tab, the drawer extension will slide completely out of the cabinet.
Step 2: Sand loose paint and rust spots.
Using 180 grit sandpaper, sand areas with loose paint or rust spots. Sand lightly over the entire cabinet with a 220 grit paper. This will help your paint to adhere to the metal. Wipe down the cabinet with a damp rag to remove all the dust.
Step 3: Prime and paint.
I used spray paint and primer found at any home improvement or hardware store. Even though the paint I used has a primer in it, I chose to use a self etching primer because I wanted to make sure my paint stuck to the metal and withstood the weather.
I also wanted a planter that looked like copper. In order to achieve this, I painted the cabinet with two coats of Forged Hammered ‘Chestnut’ and one topcoat of Metallic ‘Aged Copper.’ I thought the copper alone was too bright.
Step 4: Install some casters.
Casters are optional, however if you want to be able to move the planter easily, I recommend them. I purchased casters, stainless steel bolts, washers, and locking nuts. Each caster is rated for 90 pounds and the stainless steel hardware won’t rust. You will have to guess what size of caster is best for the size of cabinet you use.
Be sure to drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the planter before turning it upright.
Step 5: Fill the planter with soil.
Most plants used in containers do not require more that a few inches of soil. Since 12 inches of soil was really all I needed, I placed old kitty litter containers in the bottom of the planter to take up space without adding excessive weight.
The planter is now ready to fill with good container soil and plants.
Check in on my blog for additional details. Thank you Carole for your inspiration! ~Julie
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 21 questions
  • Nancy
    on Apr 22, 2019

    What did you do with the drawers? I’m thinking you could also put the casters on the for short planters but wondering if you came up with a clever idea for the front, handle area

    • Kendall Lowery
      on Oct 2, 2019

      You can also add plywood top with some foam and fabric and casters to make a rolling stool with storage or little storage ottomans

  • Gayle
    on Jul 11, 2019

    I have a black, two drawer metal file cabinet in good shape, but I want to do something creative with it and use it inside as a table, or plant stand of sorts; any ideas?

    • Paula Mathews
      on Aug 17, 2019

      Looks like you could do the same thing and cover with a lid or topper... maybe you could use it for storage

  • Rhonda
    on Jul 11, 2019

    what about holes in the bottom for drainage and inside rusting?

    Looks so nice though, great idea!

    • Cathy Mack
      on Jul 18, 2019

      They said, "be sure to drill some drainage holes in bottom before turning it upright."

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3 of 447 comments
  • Sandy Rolon
    on Jul 12, 2019

    This is so super super cool, I just love DIYers and their out of the box creative thinking... I just love this....

  • Vette
    on Jul 12, 2019

    Very clever, I can think of different projects with just this one idea. Regarding the question asked previously “ are there any drainage holes?” That would be my only concern.

    • Renee
      on Jul 18, 2019

      Maybe you should re-read the says be sure to drill drainage holes

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