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How to Make a Desk with File Cabinets

Having a desk at home makes for a fantastic place to do all types of work, whether that be schoolwork, job work, or personal projects you have. However, not everyone has the money or time to do their research to find the best desk, especially for the home office. Thankfully, the world of DIY has self-desk-making covered.

In this article, we’ll show you how to make a desk using filing cabinets. Incorporating filing cabinets to keep files or belongings around your desk is very useful. We’ll be discussing how to make a desk with file cabinets and why this may be a better solution than purchasing one that’s already made.

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Types Of Filing Cabinets

It’s crucial to analyze what kind of filing cabinets you own or are looking to buy to see how well it will hold as a desk base. There are several different types of filing cabinets, some better than others, especially when building a desk. Here’s a list of some of the filing cabinets that you can find almost anywhere.

1. Vertical Filing Cabinet

The vertical standing filing cabinets make for great bases due to their verticality on a desk. They make for ample storage of office supplies and files in general. They don’t take up too much floor space, either. These filing cabinets are made of wood, metal, or laminated to reinforce their durability.

2. Lateral Filing Cabinets

Also known as the horizontal file cabinet, the lateral file cabinet provides vast space for any paperwork or personal belongings you may have. The cabinets are sometimes wide enough to fit almost anything, even clothes. This would be an excellent selection for your desk as it provides a lot of storage room in the cabinets.

3. Mobile Filing Cabinet

As the cabinet might not be great for a desk, the mobile filing cabinet has wheels at the bottom for mobility. The cabinet makes for great portable storage that is easily movable around your office or house. However, this constant movement does not make for a solid base on a desk, as your entire station will be rolling around.

What You’ll Need For Your File Cabinet Desk

You’re going to need a handful of resources to make your DIY desk that is easy to come by. A lot of these materials you could find in a hardware store or even your local thrift store. You won’t need too many materials, but the making of a desk will be a process. Here are the things you will need for your desk:

  • 2 Filing Cabinets (either vertical/horizontal)
  • Hardwood Straight boards 
  • Electric Drill
  • Sander 
  • Paint (of your choice)
  • Nuts and bolts

You could always go ahead and grab more materials to further style and create your file cabinet desk, but these are just the bare necessities. The amount of styling you could do to your file cabinet desk is endless, but when it comes down to the basics, you don’t need too many materials to get started with the process.

Steps on How to Make a Desk With File Cabinets:

After gathering all your materials for your DIY desk, it’s time to start the process of actually making your file cabinets into a desk. The main idea of how the desk will work is that the two filing cabinets will work as bases, and the hardwood slab will be the surface where you do all the actual work.

Step 1: Making/Polishing the File Cabinet

If you already have your desired filing cabinet, you could skip this step and move on to the next one. However, if your filing cabinet needs polishing, then you can start here. Chances are, that dusty file cabinet you haven’t looked at in yours may need a little fixing, trimming, and polishing before it feels brand new again.

If your filing cabinet is missing drawer pulls, make sure to get those before moving on to the next steps. Your desk will have cabinets that can’t open, which defeats the entire purpose of the filing cabinets in the first place. Drawer pulls are easily accessible online or at the hardware store if you don’t have them already.

Step 1A: Paint the Cabinet

Painting the cabinet is an entirely optional step, but if you’re looking to match your desk with the theme of your office, you should do this before step 2. Once the drilling begins with the hardwood and the actual cabinets, it’s impossible to paint without painting the hardwood on accident.

Step 2: Setting Up the Wood

The desktop of the actual desk should be carefully considered as there’s much to take into consideration. Primarily, how long you’ll want your actual desk surface is decided here. Maybe you’ll want a more extended desktop to fit more things, or maybe there’s not enough room in your office, so it’ll have to be a little shorter.

Whatever the case may be, find the right hardwood piece size at the hardware store that’ll fit precisely on top of the cabinets. You should measure the length of how long you’d like the desk to be and then buy the desktop. If you can’t find the right size, you’ll have to go ahead and cut the wood to the correct length.

Step 2A: Sanding the Wood

Grab your trusty sander and begin to sand off the markings and ink stamps your hardwood piece may have on it. Sanding is meant to smooth out the wood’s surface to make them look better and easier to paint. You could skip this step, but your desk may look vanilla in the sense that it has no style.

Step 3: Connecting the Bases and Desktop

If this is your first time using a drill, we advise practicing on random pieces of wood before drilling. Get a feel of your electric drill and make sure you’re proficient with it. It can get tricky drilling the desktop with layers. If you’re not looking for a thicker desktop with frames, then you could potentially skip drilling altogether.

However, once you’ve painted and polished everything, maybe even added a protective finish, it’s time to connect the pieces. It’s quite simple to simply lay the desktop on top of the two filing cabinets with space between them for a chair. Once you do that, your DIY desk-building journey is now complete.

The Desk Verdict

And there you go, the complete step-by-step guide on how to make a desk with file cabinets.

After finishing up all the steps, you should feel very accomplished as you’ve saved tons of money building your own desk instead of buying one. Depending on the materials you had in the pre-material hunt, you may have even built a completely free desk. The only thing left to do is to enjoy your new DIY file cabinet desk!

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