Steelcase File Cabinet

Steelcase Nameplate

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.

Steelcase File Cabinet

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.

Steelcase NameplateSteelcase File Cabinet

The next step was to add rolling wheels.

Steel Caster

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.

Steelcase File Cabinet

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.

7 thoughts on “Steelcase File Cabinet

  1. How did you remove the name plate at the top and the label carrier on the drawers? I have the same cabinet but the drawer face has a metal sheet that I cannot remove with breaking it.

  2. The name plate is a thin piece of aluminum that is held in place with an 1/8″ fold over tab on each side. To access the tab, I drilled a half inch hole in the box steel behind the nameplate (right before the start of “steelcase”) and used a small screwdriver to lift the tab up and then popped it out.

    1. Hi Jennifer – The items listed on the site are from our personal use/collection and not for sale. Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Sorry, don’t know where you could buy a replacement. I’m not sure if the desk plate is the same size as the file cabinets, but you can sometimes find old Steelcase file cabinets on craigslist for next to nothing.

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