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FURNITURE MAKE-OVERS

How to: Make a File Cabinet Desk DIY

Posted in DIY, DIY AND HOME DECOR, FURNITURE MAKE-OVERS, HOLIDAYS, OFFICE
on September 18, 2018

file cabinet desk

Beyond sharing a fun DIY twig wall art project that hangs in the room, our home office has yet to make an appearance on the blog. The reason? I am not a clean desk/office person! There, it’s out there. Wait, you too? Whew, I don’t feel so bad then.  Luckily, I recently caught the cleaning bug and can finally share my File Cabinet Desk DIY project. It’s been a while since I took on a furniture makeover project – too long really! But like the other projects before I’m so happy with how this inexpensive DIY desk turned out.  

Our entire family uses this room (when we can find the desk), but with only one work area and five family members at home, we were in need of some additional desk space, specifically one where multiple kids could work on their homework at the same time. Being that I’m what you’d say.. frugal? (AKA: I was broke!) I came up with a cheap customized solution – A File Cabinet Desk DIY! This project is easy for beginners and those with more DIY experience alike, is relatively inexpensive, and entirely customizable for your room – which in my case means it can accommodate a bazillion kids!

How To – File Cabinet Desk DIY

The super short how to: I made this desk from three metal filing cabinets that I picked up at the thrift store and a simple DIY wood desktop out of pine boards stained with walnut. But, I bet you’re you looking for more detail? I’ve got you covered! Read on!

Everything You Will Need:

Bases
Desktop

How to Make the File Cabinet Desk Base:

file cabinet desk base

Finished File Cabinet Desk Base

Give each cabinet a thorough cleaning using TSP and a wire brush, being sure to remove any loose paint.

Add Trim

file cabinet desk diy

Cut the baseboard trim to fit at the bottom of the file cabinet with corner pieces meeting at 45° angle corners.  Pre-drill and countersink holes on each piece of trim. Line up and pre-drill holes into the file cabinet. Attach the trim to the cabinet using liquid nails and bolts securing with a nut on the underside of the cabinet. Fill holes and corner seams with wood filler, allow to dry, then sand smooth.

Paint the Cabinets

Paint each cabinet, including trim, with flat black to coat – two coats will likely be needed. Follow the flat black with a light, sweeping coat of metallic gunmetal gray, giving just enough coverage to create a metallic sheen. When dry then follow up with clear lacquer in a matte finish.

Add Drawer Pulls

Build your own file cabinet desk

 

Some cabinets have a handle rather than a pull. In that case, remove the existing handles and replace them with new ones – a chunky cup pull was perfect for this project!
diy desk drawer pulls
I was not that lucky and had to follow a few more steps to change the hardware. You’ll likely have a built-in plastic handle such as this one above – measure the holes from your handles and carefully drill holes through the plate. Attach your new drawer pulls over the plate and secure.

 

For the desktop:

file cabinet desktop

Finished DIY File Cabinet Desktop

Cut your Wood to Proper Size

My desktop is 8′ feet long and 23″ wide, which meant no cuts for the desktop boards. For an area larger or smaller than that, adjust the size of your boards and cut them to the correct length before starting.

I cut 20 sections from the furring strips at 18.75″ long, saving two 8′ furring strips for the front and back edges.

Sand, sand, and sand some more

Give all of your cut sections a thorough sanding to smooth out the surface and remove any markings or ink stamps. I used an orbital palm sander for this step – I like this one a lot! It’s not expensive, and it’s easy to use.

Create the Desktop

Young House Love and Lindsay Stephenson both have great tutorials on building a desktop and I was able to get some fabulous ideas from their DIY desk projects. Ultimately, though, I found my way of doing things if for no other reason than to keep costs down. I wanted my desktop to be relatively heavy and thick but found that giving the illusion of this was a little easier on my pocketbook than buying a thicker cut of wood. Hardwoods can be expensive y’all!

diy file cabinet desk topTo beef up the 1″x6″s, I first created a frame from the furring strips and support pieces I had cut. The frame consisted of the 20 support pieces, evenly spaced, then sandwiched between two 8′ furring strips, secured together with glue and wood screws.

diy filing cabinet desktop

The planks were then secured to the top of the frame using countersunk wood screws. Fill all holes with wood filler – sand when dry.

Pre-condition and stain

Pre-condition the desktop wood before applying your stain. After it dries, you can apply your stain. I went with a dark walnut to match the bankers’ desk in the room. To apply, use a brush recommended for stain or, use my favorite method – wearing rubber gloves, apply the stain using an old (lint free and clean) sock, working the stain in a circular motion. Once you have good coverage, remove any excess stain with a lint-free cloth. Let dry.

Apply a Protective Finish

After a light sanding, apply your polyacrylic finish of choice following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will protect your top and also give the stain depth and richness.

Finishing up

To assemble your DIY Desk, space your file cabinets evenly and lay the DIY desktop on top of the cabinets. I centered the middle cabinet and placed the left and right cabinets 24″ apart, leaving a generous opening for a desk chair.

 

desk made from old metal file cabinets

Allow 24″ between pedestals for ample seating room.

 

And, here it is all styled up and pretty! I’m in love with our File Cabinet Desk DIY. With any luck, I’ll be able to keep this desk clean. What? A girl can wish!

diy - filing cabinet desk

I hope I’ve inspired you to take on building your own customized DIY file cabinet desk solution, and please, let me know if I can answer any questions or help with your project.

DIY Filing Cabinet Desk

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Filing Cabinet Desk DIY

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How to make a wardrobe closet from scratch

If your home has limited closet space, or even worse, NO closet,  then a DIY Wardrobe closet may be the perfect option for you! A DIY solution is substantially less inexpensive and allows for complete customization of size, look and storage options. It’s also much easier to build than you might think! 

wardrobe closet

It’s week three of the One Room Challenge (aka the ORC), hosted by Calling it Home –  A six-week event that challenges those of us with a love of design to transform a room in just six weeks. It’s a blissfully crazy time but one of my favorite things to do!

ORC-Gold-4oow

Wanna catch up on the progress? It’s all right here! 

Wanna catch up on the progress? It’s all right here! 

week1 |week2 | week3| week4| week5| week6 |

In week one I shared the plan to transform our daughter’s room into a Glam Bohemian dream, with a slight edge, full of gray and silver tones mixed with soft pastels. You can check out the whole design plan and the rest of the nasty before pictures HERE.

Last week I shared with you the new teeny unuseable closet turned closet bed nook. The bed nook gives us so much more usable space, but we had to lose the closet to gain that space! A teen girl without a closet is a bit like a world without air. But a teen girl with this crazy – that’s just as bad!

wardrobe closet - before 1

wardrobe closet - before 2

 

Coming up with a plan was a bit challenging. I knew all along that I was going to want to add a standalone wardrobe closet, but I didn’t know what that was going to look like.

I explored various options, including the PAX system from IKEA, but they were either too small, too large, or too expensive. I’m starting to sound like Goldilocks and the three bears – Let’s say a DIY wardrobe solution for this room was not too small, too large but just right!

How to make a wardrobe closet from scratch

Getting Started

Step one was to measure, measure, and measure. We’d talked about the room dimension issues in week one, but the long and short is that I had one location in the room to place the closet – that makes things easy when needing to make decisions!
wardrobe closet - Where to put closet
Once I had my dimensions, I went on to Easyclosets.com to design my solution. They have a great tool that allows you to plan custom closets and it’s free! They aren’t paying me for this promotion, I just use their tool ALL the time (tiny closets are not a yay kinda thing). Once I put in the dimensions, I played around with the design, adding components such as shoe storage and drawers, before I came up with something that fit our needs. I finally decided on a closet with three columns – one with a single rod (for long clothing) and shoe storage, a drawer bank and a third with two rods. Next up, find some building plans!

Building Plans

For the building plans, I visited AnaWhite.com – everyone knows Ana has the BEST ideas for free and of course, she had something on her site that was workable – the Industrial Style Wood Slat closet system.  I pretty much followed her plans verbatim but adapted it to our needs. The main modification I made was adding a center column of drawers. Having a built-in drawer tower means I can remove the existing dresser in the room, hence giving even more usable space. With the plans figured out, it was time to get to work. The other modification I made was to add cross supports to the bottom and top of each support tower. This allowed me to secure the unit to the wall and floor for a built-in look.

rather buy than diy

Using Common Wood

Using common wood helped to keep the costs down to reasonable – was able to build the entire unit for around $150, minus the doors – but meant a little more sanding and prep work. I often use common boards for parts of a piece that isn’t visible, such as the inside of a closet, and splurge on trim work. If you’re using common boards, do your best to check each board for straightness and fill any knotholes with wood filler. I started off giving all of the wood a good sanding, then built the framework for all three columns.

The Drawer Column

wardrobe closet - add slides crate

wardrobe closet - add slides column

wardrobe closet - add drawers

Before securing any of the columns to the wall, I completed the drawer column so I could move the center if needed. I’d decided on a depth of 18″ for my closet and as luck would have it, found wooden crates at Home Depot with the perfect dimension to accommodate that depth – score!

At $11 a piece and ball-bearing drawer slides, using the containers was time-saving, economical and functional. I built the supports from the bottom up, adding cross supports at the location of each drawer.

The closet columns

 

The plans from Easyclosets.com helped to determine the placements for the closet rods in both of the more prominent units.

 

wardrobe closet - rod

 

In the closet section with the single rod, I added four half-shelves for shoes, allowing for better viewing of the shoes when stacked.

 

wardrobe closet - shoe shelves

Finishing up

wardrobe closet - kim painting

To help the finished closet blend in with the room I painted the exterior and the columns the same muted gray as the rest of the room, while staining the shelves a warm walnut color. Finally, I secured the entire unit to the back wall, floor and ceiling. 1″x6″ boards act as a kickboard.
wardrobe closet - no clothes

Left to Do

wardrobe closet - trim work

 

Ugh, I hate having to say that this is “mostly” done but I still have to add the trim pieces back in and make mirrored doors – that’s next on my list. Although we could leave the closet open, I want to hide the eventual and inevitable clutter.  Once I’ve got the doors on, I’ll drop by and update this post! Although it’s mostly done and not done, done, I’m going to go ahead and cross the closet off of the TODO list.

TODO:

  • Create space for a larger bed
  • Include additional closet space
  • Provide well-lit make-up vanity
  • Homework desk
  • Add Sitting/hangout area

Still, I’m happy to say that the wardrobe closet is mostly done!

wardrobe closet -closet only

Eeek! There are still more than a few things to get done, and we’re halfway through the challenge! I better get my butt moving! Be sure to pop in next week for hopefully the latest updates on this room. If you are looking for me, you know where I’ll be! In the meantime, be sure to check out the other guest participants in the One Room Challenge and prepared to be wowed! There is much inspiration going on over there!

*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something, we will receive a small commision at no additional expense to you. Please see my disclaimer for further information. Thanks for supporting KnockitoffKim.com!

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How To Make a Floating Table For $64 or Less

If you have a small, awkwardly shaped foyer but still want the functionality of a console table, consider creating a floating table from inexpensive stackable closet shelving. 

floating table

Like many of you, we have a relatively small, and awkwardly shaped,  front door area. When redecorating our foyer during the One Room Challenge, we had the following needs/wants:

  • A place to drop our keys and mail when we came in
  • Seating to rest on while putting on our shoes
  • An eclectic modern solution, leaning toward mid-century modern, preferably for free!

With just enough space for a console table (key catcher), there was little room for seating once the table was in place (shoe seat). And, of course, nothing is free!

If you are in the same boat, there is a pretty simple solution! Taking the table off the floor – A DIY floating table – allows for ottomans to slide underneath.

Seating+Keycatcher=Happy Foyer!

 

Three-shelf organizer

We had a three-drawer closet organizer hanging around. Unfortunately, they don’t make the unit any longer, but they make a three-shelf stackable unit that will work just as well or you may be able to pick one up at a thrift store. Mine was about 32″x12″ in dimension. These units are perfect for providing a budget-friendly, clean-lined, modern floating table. All you need is the shelving unit, a 2″x4″ and a 1″x 12″ piece of wood!

For the full list of materials and instructions, click HERE to download the free plans – available to subscribers of my newsletter!

Floating Table Plans - Image

HOW TO MAKE A FLOATING TABLE FOR $64

Find and Mark Wall Studs

floating table - find studs

Determine where your table will go. Then, use a stud finder to find the location of the wall studs behind the wall’s surface. My table sits 34″ up from the floor to allow for ottomans to fit underneath. 

Assemble Shelving Unit

Attach long side panels to the top and bottom panels, using screws and wood glue, skipping the shelves and back panel. Measure the length and width of the inside of your unit from top to bottom and side to side. You will use these measurements in the next steps. 

Add Brace

floating table - brace

Turn the unit on its side. Attach a 2″x4″ brace to the inside lip of the shelving unit. This support will hold the table on the wall and attach to the studs.

Create Doors

floating table - measure inside

Use a 1″x12″ piece of wood to create doors. To determine the dimensions of the door, you’ll need to do some simple math – or use a carpenter’s calculator, which is what I do because math and I do not get along!

Determine the dimensions of each door by using the following calculations:

For the width of each door:

The width of the unit – 1/8″ = The door width

Door-stop length (using the leftover edge from the width of the door):

The width of the unit = the door-stop

For the length of each door:

(Length measurement of the unit – 3/4″) / 2 = The length of each door.

floating table - doors

Cut your doors and the door-stop using the calculated dimensions. Sand, and stain or paint your doors, add a finishing wax or Polycrylic coating for protection. Let dry.

Mount the Shelving Unit

floating table - mount on wall

 

With the help of a friend, turn the floating table on its side, and hold against the wall. Level. Once placed, use 3″ wood screws to secure the brace directly into the previously marked stud to secure.

floating table - doorstop

Add doorstop

On the bottom of the floating table, place the door-stop 1″ in from the front edge, securing with wood glue and screws.

Attach Doors

floating table - add hinges

Using a drill, attach one end of the hinge to the backside of the door front, and the other to the interior of the floating table. To confirm that these are correctly placed, close the door and make sure it stays closed tightly.

Add Door Hardware

floating table - roller

Add a double roller cabinet catch at the top inside corner of each door and mount door pulls to the top of each door.

floating table - handles

To cut costs, I used door jamb strike plates positioned as door pulls – 2 @ $5 – as opposed to rather than actual door pulls. They gave the same look at half the cost!

Style as Desired

Add a lamp, a plant and a key-catcher, then slide a few ottomans underneath for seating.

Once mounted on the wall, the floating table, with its clean lines and added doors, gives a nod to mid-century modern, and is just perfect as the base for a floating table, especially in a small space. The doors provide closed storage fabulous for hiding winter hats, gloves and handy dog walking accessories.

floating table - storage

 

Finally, we have a place to drop our keys and put our shoes on in the morning, with a fun design that easily transitions between traditional and contemporary decor!

floating table top

floating table - after

 

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