2 Drawer filing Cabinet Transformation

Today I want to share with you this amazing 2 drawer filing cabinet transformation. If you’re interested in learning how I turned a Global 2800 series filing cabinet into a vintage Index file cabinet then keep reading.

It all started after I finished working on my office space in the spare room; that I realized I needed a short filing cabinet to file away bills and paper work. Often I would end up throwing them into my nightstand drawer and if not there they would end up in a basket that sat in the corner of my now office space/walk in closet. I had a very large pile of papers builging up in the corner of the room that was driving me nuts. Being someone that is tidy and well organized for the most part this was something that I couldn’t stand to see.

I quickly took to Facebook marketplace, Letgo and Kijiji in hopes of finding a small filing cabinet that I could use but for a very inexpensive price. I even checked out my local Restore. They did have one but it was smaller then I was hoping for so I ended up leaving it behind. Now it’s funny how the universe works; sometimes it will just put right in front of you exactly what you are looking for or need. Here’s what happened the next day when I went into work, there in front of me was a 2 drawer filing cabinet that had a big sign that read “For Free” …..now how amazing is that. Now the only down fall was the it was locked with no key but lucky for me that I have a super handyman a.k.a Nelson that was able to open it for me.

Now about this filing cabinet as you can see from the image below this is what it looked like. I took this image from the Staples website because in my excitement to get working on it I forgot to take of a photo of what it looked like before. Now as you can see it was very plain, not appealing to the eye at all so I had to figure out a way to be creative with it. You know, make it more outside the box decor looking. I wanted something different but what? Then I remembered my hunt for a vintage index file cabinet and I thought to myself how great this 2 drawer filing cabinet would look if I was able to convert it into one. This then started my research on how to make this new idea that I had created in my head come to life. Of course Pinterest is always a good place to start.


I figured out all the materials that I would need in order to convert this regular filing cabinet into an Index file cabinet. My sources for supplies were: Lowes Canada for casters and clamps. Ikea which I was able to use old bed slats from our old bed frame. Amazon for the pull labels. Some items for this project we already had at home which include the wood stain, stain applicator pad, gloves, glue, paint, sponge roller and tray. For this project you will also needed a drill, drill socket screws, lock washers, screw nuts, a circular saw, sanding sponge or sander, a pencil and measuring tape.


Now the first thing we did, yes I say we because I can’t take all the credit for this project. I did get help from Nelson. We went ahead and painted the filing cabinet black. We applied the paint using a sponge roller. We thought that if we used spray paint it might cause the paint to run which we did not want but also with it being mid winter we decided to do this project indoors and didn’t want the strong fumes from the spray paint to linger throughout the house. So for these reasons we just decided that rolling on the paint would be the best thing to do. We did 2 coats on all four sides. We didn’t worry too much about the front being perfect and fully covered as we were going to be covering it with wood anyways. Also we didn’t bother to paint the bottom of the cabinet because we figured you wouldn’t see the bottom either. Then we left the cabinet to fully dry.

While the cabinet was drying we moved onto cutting the pieces of wood that were going to be used to reface the cabinet. Now it’s up to you to decide the width of wood that you want to use. You could use pine board which is very thin although we found it to be a little bit on the more expensive side. I think 4 pieces of the 4 ft. board were just a little over $5.00 each which in the end would have cost about $25.00. We felt like it was a bit much for the amount of wood we were getting so we got creative and decide to use the left over pieces we had from the Ikea bed slats. I had used most of the slats for another project but still had some left over. In the end that’s what we went with, even though they were a little thicker then the pine board. We were able to save money which was an added bonus. We cut down the slats just a little so that they sat slightly over the drawer. Over course you could have the wood run from one end of the cabinet to the other if you prefer. When we had all the pieces cut I gave each one a quick sand using a sanding sponge just to remove any little bits of wood sticking out. I then went ahead and started staining the wood using some stain I had left over. I like using the Varathane Early American stain. This is what I have been using on my more recent projects. To apply the wood stain I used a stain applicator pad. This way I don’t use a lot of the stain and it wipes off the excess stain which makes the drying time less.


Now back to the cabinet. Once the paint was all dry we turned the filing cabinet upside down and marked out where we wanted the casters to sit and and circled the areas where we would need to drill holes. You will need to use a metal drill bit to make the holes on the base of the cabinet. Please note if you decide to add casters to your file cabinet do not place them too close to the corners as you will not have enough room underneath to add the screw nut onto the screw. Once we had drilled out all the holes we attached the casters using screws and secured them on the inside with the lock washers and screw nuts. We used a drill and drill socket to tighten the screws firmly into place.


Now with all four casters in place it was time to move onto the next step which was attaching the pieces of stained wood onto the face of the metal cabinet. I read some people used wood glue and I thought of using it but I prefer to use the LePage Contact Cement glue. It’s super heavy duty . I think it runs for less then $12.00 with tax. We applied some to the back of the wood pieces and then attached them to the cabinet using clamps to hold them in place while they dried. Now for this step we recommend leaving the clamps on for a few hours. If you start this project in the morning everything should be dry by the evening/night so you can go ahead and remove the clamps. If you start this project later in the day maybe leave the clamps on over night to ensure its fully dry.


The last steps which we were able to do while the wood was drying onto the metal was attach the pull labels. The ones we purchased were from Amazon and came with tiny screws already. For this you’ll want to use a small phillips screwdriver. You also want to make sure that you center all the pull labels so that everything looks aligned and neat.

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Once our project was complete this was what our final product looked like. Now doesn’t this look way better then a regular looking filing cabinet? We totally love our filing cabinet makeover and hope you do too!


This filing cabinet makeover cost us about $60.00 in materials which in the end is pretty good considering the cabinet was for free. I hope you all enjoyed this DIY post! If you end up making over your own filing cabinet I would love to hear or read about it!