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.

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  16 questions
  • Edi12891280 Edi12891280 on Jun 12, 2017
    What is mdf?

    • Mary Mosti 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 Jea2293885 on Jun 12, 2017
    How do i make your chalk paint?

  • Pj Brown 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 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 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 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 Dpbeee2 on Jun 12, 2017
      This is brilliant! Thanks

  • Kerry Trout 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 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 Katholc on Jun 12, 2017
      I think this would also be great as a recycle bin.

    • Cris Darling 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 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 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.

  • Bob Harrington Bob Harrington on Jun 12, 2017
    Do you share your recipe for your homemade chalk paint??

    • Barb in Texas 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 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 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!!!

  • JAN JAN on Jun 12, 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 Kalinda Smith on Jun 12, 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 Kim on Jun 13, 2017
      Nope, Janderwores is right here.

    • AM 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 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 Lynette on Jan 07, 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 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 Mcgypsy9 on Mar 25, 2018

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

    • Doree Ramilo Oostdyk Doree Ramilo Oostdyk on Apr 09, 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 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 Debra on Jun 26, 2017
    What is the ratio to mix one gallon of paint?

  • Carol Carol on Sep 19, 2017
    What's MDF?

  • Kat5489525 Kat5489525 on Jun 03, 2018

    How did you make your own chalk paint?

    • Lilpixiestixxx 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 Theresa on Jul 19, 2018

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

    • Lin Collins 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 Toni on Jul 26, 2018

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

    • Cris Darling Cris Darling on Jul 26, 2018

      i didn’t have to reinforce it at all.

    • Tracey Jackson 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 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 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 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 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 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 Jeannine on Aug 02, 2018

    What is MDF?

  • Susan Morris 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 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 Clergylady on Feb 09, 2019

    Nice recycle idea!