DIY Filing Cabinet Desk

DIY Filing Cabinet Desk

Use carpenter Thad Mills’ instructions to build a desk with wooden filing cabinets.

Create a gorgeous office desk with ample storage space with the use of existing filing cabinets and a desktop made from a solid door or a sheet of medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

Repurposed solid-core door or thick sheet of MDF
Wooden file cabinets
Wood glue/filler
Putty knife
100-grit sandpaper
Paint+primer in high-gloss finish
Tape measure
Drop cloth
Impact driver
1 1⁄2-inch woodscrews
White, high gloss spray paint
Brass Campaign style drawer pulls
2-inch brass corners
Poly sealer
Damp rag

Prepare the Cabinets

  1. Remove hardware from the existing filing cabinets with a screwdriver
  2. Use a putty knife and press wood filler into holes or dings
  3. Let dry
  4. Sand down rough spots with 100-grit sandpaper
  5. Wipe the filing cabinets down with a damp rag to remove excess sawdust
  6. Save time by using combined paint and primer, and give the cabinets two coats of in a color of your choice
  7. (Optional) Once cabinets are dry, install the 2-inch brass corners. Line up one brass corner on the front of a file drawer, leaving 1⁄4 inch of space between it and the edges of the drawer
  8. Drive the accompanying screws through the brass corner and into the wood drawer front
  9. Repeat this step for all four corners, on each drawer face
  10. Use a screwdriver to install new hardware where the old hardware used to be on all four drawers. (You could also reinstall the old hardware if you prefer)

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Create the Desktop

  1. Measure the width of both the filing cabinets
  2. Add enough room for a chair to fit comfortably between the cabinets— this will give you the total desk length
  3. Cut the solid-core door or MDF sheet down to the length with a skill saw
  4. Sand with 100-grit sandpaper to smooth out edges and corners
  5. Wipe the desktop down with a damp rag to remove excess sawdust
  6. In a well-ventilated area, spray the desktop with high-gloss spray paint to the desired opacity (2-3 coats)

Install the Desktop

  1. Place the filing cabinets side by side and place the new desktop on top
  2. Scoot the cabinets toward the outer sides of the desktop so they are flush with their respective edges
  3. Center the desktop by making sure the distance between the front edge of the desktop and the front of the filing cabinet is equidistant to the rear edge of the desktop to the rear of the cabinet
  4. Do this for both cabinets
  5. Once you’ve centered the desktop, remove the top drawer from both filing cabinets
  6. Attach the desktop to the top of each filing cabinet by driving a 1 1⁄2-inch woodscrew up through the top of the filing cabinet into the bottom of the desktop, making sure the screw does not come through the desktop
  7. Repeat this step on the second filing cabinet

If and when you decide to move your desk, remove the screws and take the desktop off before attempting to move the entire unit. Move each filing cabinet individually, as they are likely too heavy to move when connected. When the filing cabinets are in place, reattach the desktop, driving the screws back into the desktop to secure it in place.

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