11 Apr
Posted in: apr
By nikki    3 Comments

File this!

I have a stash of old graduate school files (among other useful paperwork that hasn’t seen the light of day in a number of years) that were stored in one of those cheap-o plastic file cabinets (really, you can’t even call it a cabinet). Let’s call them file “bins”.

Since I moved these files to the studio, I figured it was time to start looking for a real cabinet in which to store them. I didn’t need anything pretty (pretty ugly, that is) and I didn’t want to spend a penny (at least a pretty one), either. But ugly file cabinets still ain’t cheap. Lunatics on craigslist are asking 50 beans for a banged up metal cabinet? From what planet do they come? (No, from what planet do the people come who PAY for that?)

As it would happen, about three days into my search, my mom announced that she was re-doing her office and adding built-ins to replace their old desk system. I recall that her old desk system included an old, black metal filing cabinet. Bingo. And we all know that moms love to pass crap down to their offspring. Just a week or two later, Mom and I dragged it from car to studio and during nap time on Tuesday, I dove in.

It’s got its share of dings and dents (check out the doozy above the top drawer, middle) but I knew it was going to be tucked in the corner of the studio so I didn’t much care. Besides, it’s a filing cabinet, for goodness sake. And it was FREE.

But the first glaring issue was the 25-year old bandage of masking tape that had been preventing a careless error that would have locked away all of Mom’s goods forever. (There is no key, as I understand it.) With an X-acto knife, I began surgery (the pic below was taken halfway through the operation – you can only imagine the crusty scabs of tape). Knowing I didn’t want to risk any fate with this still-functional lock, I dug inside the belly of the box to disengage the mechanism so I’d never run into trouble in the future. (Do note that the picture above was taken after this little procedure – you can see the locking mechanism depressed and flush with the cabinet.)

I continued to take the pieces apart, pulled the hardware off and lightly sanded the macabre little thing.  (Yes, Mom, I wore a protective mask AND glasses.) I wasn’t going to go overboard by trying to paint every square inch of the inside so I really just did everything you’d readily see, including the inside front walls of the drawers (these fell off as separate pieces once I removed the handles so they were easy to do).

I laid a coat of primer (admittedly sort of unevenly) and a half hour later, sprayed on my first coat of paint (Rustoleum semi-gloss). I didn’t want the thing to have this bright white sheen, so I opted for a subdued finish. I think I ended up layering three coats with drying time between. (Yes, I sent my five-year old to water all of the bushes in the farthest opposite corner of the yard while we loudly discussed the phases of the moon.)

I took a mixture of vinegar, soap and water to polish up the stainless steel handles a bit (it worked enough; I didn’t want to wait to find [nor spend money on] new hardware) and after letting it rest for 24 hours, I rebuilt it (we’ve moved into Wednesday’s nap now, of course).

I’d say it looks pretty snazzy. Since all of my studio furniture is white, it fits right in. (And remember that doozy of a dent on top? Pretty well camouflaged, for sure.)

My next step is to start introducing pops of color in that room (hmm, maybe I should have painted it RED?) but we’re making progress little by little.


  • I’d say, “I would like it back now” !
    Pretty good job, my talented daughter – looks like new.

    • Looks wonderful…
      She must get her talent for you…

  • Lovely ! But I do worry when you start using tools, always thinking of how your printer nearly ate your hand.