DIY File Cabinet Desk: Detailed and Easy Instructions
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DIY File Cabinet Desk: Detailed and Easy Instructions

|Dec 12, 2022

Make sure you have a filing system to help you keep your papers organized. Ready-made Filing cabinets, not your thing? Try DIYing it and turning filing cabinets into a desk. Ensure you create enough desk space when setting up your home office. Melamine desktops and a file cabinet desk can be combined to create a long desk, or try these file cabinet desk ideas.

The items you use frequently can be kept on your desk, and those you use occasionally can be kept in drawers. You can keep the drawers organized by using drawer organizers. Keep frequently used items out on counters using counter organizers that fit them all. Keeping paper organized on your desk can be as simple as storing it in a file or a magazine holder. The more paper you have on your desk, the less you have to store on it. Create a project board or command center to simplify your projects and keep your desk clutter-free.

Why DIY a File Cabinet Desk?

In the end, it comes down to how much space you have. Using an office filing cabinet in your office layout can take up a lot of space. To open a vertical filing cabinet desk base with a drawer that is 25" deep, there needs to be 23" of space in front of the cabinet so that the drawer can be fully opened. In order to access files from a 20" deep horizontal office desk with a filing cabinet, there needs to be about 18" of space in front of it.

Make sure you also include your desk. When planning the office layout, don’t forget that a normal desk chair needs a space of around 107cm. About 50-76cm or 20-30" of this dimension can be found behind your desk chair. It will be easier to back up as well as swivel to reach the credenza or bookcases behind you if you reserve this space. Otherwise, you could try an ergonomic desk stool.

Consider whether you will have to slide the seat side by side to access pieces on the desk if you intend to have a large desk - if so, ensure that the desk does not have lower cabinets that would hinder movement.

Why DIY a File Cabinet Desk?

If you have clients, they will need a place to wait. The table and chairs should be separated by 20-30" (50-76cm) and should be positioned within 48 - 60" from your desk. As a result, there is enough space for furniture, guests can comfortably walk toward the seats, and their feet and legs are not cramped.

Wood plank with two matching cabinets

For someone who wants to customize their workspace, a DIY file cabinet desk is a smart solution. Make two symmetrical cabinets with two wood planks painted to your liking, and secure them together. In this case, a monochromatic palette adds a little bit of style.

Frame It

On the front of the drawers, picture frames frame this slim file cabinet, making it look like an engraved wooden one - stylish hardware also helps.

Making Your Own Filing Cabinet Desk

  • A vertical filing cabinet or a horizontal filing cabinet
  • Straight boards made of hardwood
  • Drill powered by electricity
  • Sander
  • Your choice of paint
  • Nuts and bolts


You can start here if your 2-drawer file cabinet needs to be polished. If you haven't looked at your dusty file cabinet in a while, it may need some trimming, polishing, and fixing. Before proceeding, ensure you have the drawer pulls you need for your filing cabinet. There will be no way to open the cabinets on your desk, so the purpose of the filing cabinets will be defeated.


It's entirely optional to paint your cabinet, but it's a good idea if you want your desk to match your office theme. Painting the hardwood is impossible without painting the hardwood by accident once the drilling begins on the hardwood and the cabinets.

Paint file cabinet desk


It is crucial to consider the desktop since many factors exist carefully. This is where you determine the length of your actual desk surface. View our employee purchase program now if you wish to see other desktop options.


Perhaps you'll need a larger desktop to accommodate more items, or maybe you don't have enough room in your office, so you'll need a shorter desktop.

Regardless of your choice, make certain you find a hardwood piece that will fit precisely on top of the cabinets at your local hardware store. It is a good idea to measure the length of the desk and then purchase the desktop accordingly and add in your office accessories.


We recommend practicing on random pieces of wood before drilling if this is your first time using a drill. You should become proficient with your electric drill by getting a feel for it. When there are layers on the dream setup, drilling can be tricky. You could skip drilling altogether if you are not interested in thicker desktops with frames.

The next step is connecting the pieces once you've painted, polished, and perhaps added a protective finish. Laying the desktop atop the two filing cabinets with room for a chair in between is quite simple. You have now completed your DIY desk building journey.


Workflow is another important consideration when planning an office layout or how you and others will use it. You must have easy access to the door from your desk if you exit and enter the room frequently throughout the day.

Your office layout should include a path starting the entrance toward the visitor seating if you have clients or guests visiting. If you use an individual item frequently, such as a printer or file cabinet, consider using a credenza/ file cabinet behind the desk.

DIY File Cabinet Desk: A Step-By-Step Guide

Would you like to build a DIY computer desk? Here we have a step-by-step guide you can use to get started with your new DIY project. It may take a while, but you’ll have a nice file cabinet desk with enough storage space for all the things you may need in your office. If you already own a desk, you can also explore some desk makeover ideas

1.  Build Simple Cabinet Boxes

The first thing to do is to choose the right type of plywood. It comes down to personal preference, but make sure to choose cabinet-grade plywood if you want your DIY file cabinet to have high quality.

Now, the measurements are up to you. You can also choose whether you want a separate toe kick or an integrated toe tick. Either option is great. While you're building your base cabinet, make sure to label the pieces and cut your plywood to the right size.

Build Simple Cabinet Boxes

2.  Add Shelves To The Cabinets

You’ll need shelves and shelving pegs, as well as a drill (and drill bits, of course). Make sure to bring your tape measurer and level to make the project as accurate as possible.

First, you need to measure and mark the first side wall of the cabinet. You'll need to mark both ends of this side of the wall to ensure it is leveled. You should measure horizontally and vertically. Once you've applied the marks, use your level to ensure that the area is completely balanced. Do the same for the opposite wall. There should be four markings on the wall.

Then, drill the holes for the pegs and insert them. All that’s left is to insert the shelves in the areas where you want them to be.

3.  Build File Cabinet Drawers

Use more plywood to build the desired file cabinet drawers. Remember to make the measurements correctly according to the size of your cabinet boxes. Plus, you'll need some slide mounts so you can slide them in and out of their compartment whenever you need them. The measurements are up to you, but make sure to calculate them accurately based on the size of your desk. You can also learn how to take out a drawer.

Build File Cabinet Drawers

4.  Install The Drawers Into The Cabinets

All you need to do is determine the drawers’ mounting height, integrate the slide mounts into the cabinet, and slide them onto the mounts. It’s fairly easy, perhaps the quickest step during the process. You won’t need any extra tools besides the ones you’ve used above – including the drill and measuring tape – to install the drawers into the cabinets.

5.  Add The Tabletop To The Cabinets

Last but not least, the final step is to place your tabletop on the filing cabinet desk base you just built and adjust it so the whole thing remains together. Again, the size of the tabletop is up to you, but make sure to choose a size that resonates with the cabinets and light but resistant wood – perhaps the same you’ve used for the cabinets if you liked it.

Now you have a desk with plenty of office storage available. You can now keep all your documents in the same place and keep your workstation tidy and organized all the time.

Add The Tabletop To The Cabinets

Explore Other Options For A File Cabinet Desk

It can be exciting to use a DIY file cabinet desk, especially if you've built it yourself. However, if you would like to save some time and effort, you can also opt for buying an adjustable desk with drawers. Here we have some of the best options you can choose in today's market:

1.  Nexera Arobas 2 Piece: Home Office Set

This desk includes two pieces, a wooden desk with one large filing cabinet and a 3-drawer filing cabinet. It has excellent aesthetics and just about enough space for any person to build a comfortable workstation.

Desk dimensions47.75"W x 22"D x 30.75"H
File cabinet dimensions31.75"W x 19.25"D x 30.75"H
MaterialCARB II/FSC Certified particle board, MDF and solid metal
ColorBark Grey, Nutmeg
Warranty1 year

2.  Nexera Nomad Desk + 3-drawer Cabinet Combo

If you prefer a more “modern” design to a traditional look, then this desk can be the right choice for you. Like the previous choice, it includes a desk and a 3-drawer filing cabinet.

Desk dimensions47.25”W x 22”D x 29.75”H x 93 lbs
File cabinet dimensions31.75”W x 19.25”D x 29.75”H x 100 lbs
MaterialCARB II/FSC Certified particle board, MDF and solid metal
ColorWhite and Birch Plywood
Black/Greige and Birch Plywood
Black and Birch Plywood
Warranty1 year

3.  Nexera Secretary Desk

The next option is an excellent choice for people with enclosed spaces. You can hide away your laptop and other accessories you may have with the drop-down door. Plus, it has three adjustable shelves where you can store anything you’d like.

Desk dimensions35.75”W x 8.25”D x 54”H x 94 lbs
Number of shelves3
MaterialCARB II/FSC Certified particle board, MDF and solid metal
ColorNutmeg and Charcoal Grey, Black, White, Walnut
Warranty1 year

4.  Nexera Nexera Atypik 2-Drawer Desk

This desk includes a top drawer for storage and a bottom drawer for files. It is resistant to scratches, stains, and water, making it the right choice for an office environment.

Dimension47.25”W x 22”D x 29.75”H x 93 lbs
MaterialsCARB II/FSC Certified particle board, melamine and MDF
ColorsBlack/Greige and Birch Plywood
White and Birch Plywood
Black and Birch Plywood
Warranty1 year

5.  Nexera Boss Secretary Desk

The next desk is compact but comfortable. You can hide away your belongings once your work day is over with the drop-down door. Plus, you can also use it as a bar!

Dimension35.75”W x 15.75”D x 48.25”H x 123 lbs
Number of shelves4
Number of boxes2
ColorNutmeg laminate panel and Matte White Lacquer casing & doors
White melamine, Matte White lacquer casing & doors and Matte Greige lacquer panel
Black laminate, Black melamine casing & panel, Nutmeg laminate doors
Nutmeg laminate casing & doors and matte black lacquer panel
Warranty1 year

6.  Northread Reversible File L-shaped Executive Desk

If you're looking for ideas for storage space at the office, this desk can be a great choice. It is compact and can also be used on corners if you're looking forward to saving as much space as possible.

7.  Skyline Decor Three Drawer Pedestal and Pull-Out Keyboard Tray: Desk

This desk has a modern layout and includes three filing drawers and one shelf for storage space. It also has a keyboard tray and just about enough space for you to place your laptop and everything else you need to work comfortably.

Overall desk dimensions30.7"H x 47.2"W x 20.2"D
Leg clearance26.2"W x 25.2"H
Cabinet dimensions16"W x 17.4"D x 15.2"H
Inside dimensionsLarge drawer: 24"W x 15.1"D x 2.75"H
Small drawers: 13.9"W x 15.1"D x 2.75"H
MaterialComposite wood
ColorWalnut with silver metal drawer knobs
Warranty1 month

8.  Skyline Decor Carine Desk: Wenge Finished Wood

If you prefer an all-black desk, this might be the right choice for you. It has a modern design and is made from wenge, brown-finished wood. It includes one shelf and three pull-out drawers.

Overall desk dimensions52"H x 56.7"W x 17.7"D
Desktop29.3"H x 39.3"W x 17.75"D
Shelf under desk7.8"H x 5.6" W x 14.25"D
Shelves9.7"H x 15"W x 8.7"D
Open compartment9.7"H x 15" W x 15.6"D
Storage behind doors14.4"H x 23.6"W x 15.6"D
MaterialEngineered wood
ColorTwo-tone walnut brown and dark grey
Warranty1 month

9.  Skyline Decor Walnut Brown and Dark Grey: Storage Desk

This desk goes well with any of the bedroom desk ideas you may have in mind. It has three shelves and one compartment behind the doors. Plus, the modern but compact finish makes it excellent for people with little space available.

Overall desk dimensions29.13"H x 47.64"W x 23.62"D
ColorWenge brown
Warranty1 month

10. Skyline Décor Delta Office Writing Desk Walnut: Writing Desk

Handwriting is still a thing, and this file cabinet desk works best for people who do it on a daily basis. The stable but comfortable finish will make the best writing surface for any person.

Overall desk dimensions47.25"W x 22.75" - 28"D x 29.75"H
Sliding keyboard tray23.25"W x 11.5"D x 26"H from floor
Pedestal size15.75"W x 23"D x 26"H
Shelf size14.5"W x 21.75"D x 5.25"H
Box drawer size (3)12.5"W x 13"D x 3.75"H
ColorWhite, Rustic Walnut, Maple
Warranty1 month
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