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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 I Made Over My Old Banker’s Chair

Posted in DECOR, DIY, OFFICE
on February 24, 2017

Many thanks to Wagner for the beyond useful paint sprayer and sponsoring this post. Of course, all opinions and bad grammar are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for details.  

What do you do when you have a piece of furniture that has seen better days, but you can’t seem to part with it? The obvious answer is to paint it or upcycle it!

When my mother died, among many other things, I brought home her office chair. My mom was a workaholic. Not in the negative way that you would normally associate with the workaholic label. I don’t remember ever feeling like she didn’t have time for us, but many of our long talks took place around her desk, in her office. Her passion for work was simply a part of her – she thrived off of business savvy exchanges, constant learning, and hard work. And salesmanship? Whew! I swear, she could sell mud to someone in the middle of a flood. As a result of all of this, she clocked many, many hours in that chair. It is a piece of furniture that still means a lot to me and reminds me of her whenever I see it.

Unfortunately, the chair had seen better days. 12-years ago, the chair was gently used. But today, the chair was falling apart and needed a make-over, STAT. Somehow, the arms had both come off, and one was lost – I’m still holding out hope that it will turn up somewhere! Hopefully, I’m not the only one who loses things in their house! The faux leather seat was torn, and the finish was chipped and scraped all over. I gave the chair a new finish and recovered the seat. Usually I would have used a heavy duty fabric, but since I didn’t have one, I decided to paint fabric with a Buffalo check pattern for just a little bit of an on-trend look. To keep the cost down, I used a piece of canvas drop cloth as the seat cover and painted the pattern on using two colors.  I went with gray and beige shades to keep things neutral and light. A coat of clear wax keeps the chair pad protected. The color combination is very calming and a sweet contrast to the dark wood tones of our home office. Here’s how I did it:

 

Painting a Buffalo Check Pattern

Supplies you’ll need –

  • 1 1/2″ painters tape
  • Acrylic paint in 2 coordinating colors
  • Paint brush
  • Clear wax

Using the painter’s tape, tape two pieces, horizontally, side by side every 3″ across your surface.  This will create 3 x 3″ squares in the finished check.

 

If possible, run a small line of paint down the edges of your tape lines to seal the edges. This ensures a crisp line when you remove the tape. Allow this to dry.

Paint between the tape lines using your darkest color – I used a dark gray, and remove the tape before allowing the surface to dry.

Now, tape two pieces, vertically, side by side every 3″ across your surface going over the first set of lines. It’s best to start from the center to ensure an even pattern. Again, seal the edges and fill in the taped off area with your darkest color. ALLOW TO DRY.

Using the tape, create a grid by again adding tape lines horizontally, following your original tape lines, then paint the squares that have been set up by the grid of tape in your contrasting color – I used white. Remove the tape and allow to dry completely.

Brush on a coat of clear wax or another plastic coat sealer. If you’re painting this on fabric, this will also soften your fabric slightly, removing the stiff feeling of paint on fabric!

Covering the Chair Seat

To recover the seat, remove the seat pad from the chair. Most chairs have 2-4 screws attaching them to the base and will come right off when you remove these.

If the fabric underneath is in good condition, I’ve often left it on and just removed the cover piece – you know, that piece that covers the staples and makes it look all clean and pretty that I can’t remember the name of right now!? In my case, the fabric was torn and had to be removed. I did this with a pair of pliers, prying up the staples. Fun stuff.

To put the new fabric on, cut a piece of fabric roughly the same size as the chair pad, with enough fabric to wrap around all four sides.

Lay your fabric on a flat surface, pattern side down and center your cushion on top of it, face down.

Starting at the front of the cushion, pull the fabric up and around the seat and then turn over the raw edge and staple along the edge, about an inch in.  Repeat on each side, pulling the fabric taut and straight as you go.

To finish the corners, pull the center of the fabric over the corner, pulling tight and staple. Then, pull the fabric on either side of the center over, pleating and pulling taut, stapling around.  Cut excess fabric off and staple the edges down. Repeat on the other corners. Staple down the liner on the fabric staple line, turning over raw edges as you go.

Attach to the chair. All finished!

Painting the Chair:

To paint your chair, you’ll need to:

  • Make any necessary repairs
  • Prepare the surface – give it a good cleaning and lightly sand to remove any shine. This will help the paint to adhere better

I’ve had success with painting chairs using spray paint, and also by hand, but I decided to try out the Wagner paint sprayer that I received during our Game Room Makeover. #badhairdontcare #momjeansforpainting

Don’t worry, though, if you don’t have a paint sprayer, you can achieve the same look by painting by hand, using chalk paint and a polyacrylic coat for protection.

The sprayer I have (Wagner Flexio 890 Paint Sprayer) comes with two spray heads. One is for more detailed work such as crafts and furniture and was perfect for this job.

The sprayer is easy to put together and to use. It’s quiet and light. And, you can paint using virtually any kind of material. I used a chalk type paint which enabled me to apply the paint without a primer, followed by a thinned polyacrylic to protect the finish, both applied with the sprayer. I get asked all the time if you can truly use chalk paint without a primer, and the answer is YES! Chalk paint is lovely to work with and is most often self-levelling. It’s even nicer with the sprayer because there isn’t a brush mark to be seen anywhere. The best chalk style paint I’ve ever worked with is made by Wise Owl – it’s a bit pricey, but the coverage is fantastic. Take a look at this post for more information on Wise Owl paint.

Reassemble your chair, reattach the seat cushion and you’re done.

I added a flokati pillow that has been around for a while and has been moved from room to room multiple times – I love things that can live anywhere in your home! The pillow adds just the right amount of texture and softness. This secretary chair was a simple, quick, inexpensive upcycle. And, I can’t be happier with how the chair turned out – I’m positive my mom would have liked it as well, and I hope you do, too!

 

 

 

DIY Rustic Starburst Wall Art

It’s easy to create this completely custom, extra-creative rustic wall decor at home using found objects and natural materials.

Rustic Wall Decor

Wow, that weekend went by a little too quickly, didn’t it? We received a whole lot of snow for our area over the weekend which had all of the kids screaming, “Yay!” all except for the youngest one. In his mind, it is mandatory that a snowman is built on a snow day. So far, the snow has remained too powdery to make one, despite our multiple trips outside to attempt to coax it into even a measly snowball. Tell me I’m not the only person thinking of googling “how to make a snowman with powdery snow”? The worst was when we’d just convinced him we’d try again in the morning, and my daughter came in singing “Do you wanna build a snowman..?”. Seriously. Ah well, maybe we’ll have better luck today – You know we’re ready with carrot, coal, hat, scarf in hand! 

In between trips outside, I got in a little crafting and was able to pull together this fun, simple, DIY Starburst Rustic Wall Decor for the January Create with Me DIY Challenge! This fun challenge is where you, our readers, vote on the materials we’ll use for next month’s projects, so be sure to scroll to the very last bit of this post to vote for your favorite before you go.

 

This month’s challenge was to create something using natural wood: twigs, sticks, and other natural materials. I took this literally and went with twigs – at this time of year, our many trees and shrubs mean my yard has an overabundance of them in all different colors and textures. I love how they all come together in this starburst pattern in an almost ombre effect. This, of course, isn’t the first time I’ve created something with natural materials nor will it be the last!  



I used thin branches of crepe myrtle tree, azaleas, and our river birch. You don’t want branches that are too thick or too brittle.. it will make it difficult to cut. 



*Affiliate links may have been used. Please see my full disclosure for more information. 

To create this Rustic Starburst Wall Art yourself you’ll need the following: 

  • Foam board
  • A glue gun
  • Twigs 
  • Pruning shears
  • 1″x4″x6′ pine (if adding a frame)
  • stain in your choice of colors

First, cut your foam board to size. I cut a 14″x22″ piece in half. Then, cut your branches into 1″ pieces. 


To create an offset starburst, draw a starting point in the bottom left corner, then glue a twig facing out from the center of my point. 

Begin gluing twigs about 1/2″ apart in a spiral pattern, moving outward. Each line should be about 1″ from the last until you’ve completed the entire board, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edges.  



I chose to add a simple frame to my piece using 1″x4″ scraps of wood and stained the frame with a dark mahogany stain.  

And that’s all there is to it, except for finding a place to display it! 

I hope you can find time to make one on your snow day or hope you at least have better luck with your snowman! 

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