We found this Steelcase 2 drawer file cabinet at the ASU surplus warehouse for $20. The Art Moderne/Art Deco handles attracted us to this particular find. Built in the 1950’s, it has a heavier duty construction than most of the other file cabinets on the market today.
To personalize the appearance, we refinished the exterior to give it a more industrial look.
- We removed the hardware accents (nameplates and handles).
- Chemically removed old paint (Jasco paint remover- make sure you follow safety instructions, it does burn if it gets on your skin).
- Sanded surface with orbital sander to reveal bare steel.
- Sprayed gloss black enamel and rubbed with steel wool (rubbed surface to thin film, spraying and rubbing small sections at a time while paint was wet). With this paint process, the black paint goes into the sanding marks to give a varied color and the spot welds in the steel remain visible.
- When it was fully dry, covered with a satin clear coat.
- Put the nameplates and handles back onto the cabinet.
The next step was to add rolling wheels.
The base of the file cabinet is not flush, so we cut a piece of 1/2″ plywood to fit into the recess. The wheels are attached to the board and the board fits into the recess (not permanently attached).
- Bought 4 steel casters from Amazon, at about $4 each.
- Stripped wheels (removed gray powder coat until down to bare steel).
- Used bluing compound (Vans Gun Blue) to “age” the wheels.
- Attached the wheels to the plywood.
- Set the file cabinet onto the wheeled base.
The combination of gloss black enamel with sanded steel left a translucent metallic finish and gave us the industrial look we were after. The rolling casters are an extra detail that add character and make it easier to move. It looks a lot better than the boxes of papers I had sitting around.