Old Metal File Cabinet Gets a Architectural Style Makeover

13 Materials
A few months ago I asked my daughter-in-law if there was any furniture they needed for their house. I’m always on the lookout for a project and since her birthday was coming up at the end of April, I thought I would get the gears going.
She mentioned that a file cabinet would be nice. Not too big, because their office was rather small.
Being a good mom, I asked my son if he also thought they needed a file cabinet. His answer…No.
The last time I was in their house I happened to look over at their current file cabinet and what do I see? It doesn’t have a top. OK, that is the last time I take advice from my son, I’ll just have to go through the boss.
The hunt was on.
A few weeks later I spot my victim. This plain old file cabinet waiting for me in a thrift store. Great size, it could easily hold a printer on top and tons of files.
With both my son and his wife being architects, I wanted their file cabinet to be reminiscent of an old architectural flat filing cabinet with the wood slats, small knobs and name plates.
At Home Depot I found oak strips in a couple of different widths, 3 and 4 inch.
For the front, I chose the narrower widths. The oak strips were sanded then given a coat of dark walnut stain.
I originally attached the strips to the file cabinet with builders adhesive.
If I had to do it over again, I would not use the builders adhesive, the moisture in the adhesive warps the oak terribly. This is a case of do as I say, not as I do.
After I got the oak strips unwarped, I didn’t really trust the builders adhesive to hold the oak strips securely for the long haul. I used a metal drill bit to drill all the way through the metal so the knobs are not only decorative but they also help hold the slats in place.
For the top, I used the 4 inch wide oak strips.
Not wanting to use the builders adhesive again, a better choice was contact cement…it has low moisture, dries almost immediately and most importantly, it didn’t warp my boards.
A sheet of rusty metal was cut to fit inside the oak strips on the top.
While the rust had a really cool texture, it would be absolutely terrible for dusting.
Since I had some resin leftover from a railroad tie lamp from a couple of months ago, I mixed a cup and smoothed it over my rust.
The metal was showing signs of warping, to make sure that it stayed put, both the metal and the oak strips were screwed into the corners to the top of the file cabinet.
The oak was finished with two coats of varnish.
Finished up the file cabinet by painting all the exposed metal with black chalk paint followed by clear wax.
Make sure you click on the link below for more pictures and sources for the knobs and pulls.
And for more choices you can find my last steel file cabinet makeover here.

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

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  • Paul Paul on Jan 05, 2019

    How do you repair bamboo chairs to be sturdy again?

  • Patti Cadiz Patti Cadiz on Jan 05, 2019

    Could I repurpose old wooden blind slats?

  • Gale O'Neal Gale O'Neal on Jul 08, 2019

    Not sure uif you answered it or not, but how do you open the cabinets? I do not see how those little name hooks in the middle would suffice. Do they?


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