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File Cabinet Organizer Boxes


I have a 4-drawer file cabinet beside my desk. And like many people these days, I no longer file a lot of papers. Instead, I just use these drawers for general desk storage. However, they are big, deep, drawers and things get messy very quickly.

I decided to build an organizer box to fit inside the drawer. My plan is that the bottom box will have a divider or two in it, and it will support a sliding tray that will sit on top of it.

I had some 30+ year old pine boards that I recently reclaimed from an old shelf, and I thought I would use that material for the box. It was a bit too thick, and also a touch cupped, so I planed it down to a half inch of thickness (12mm) and then cut them to length.

The goal is a box 15inches wide (380mm) to fully fit the file drawer, and about 15 inches long. The drawer is a bit over 9 inches tall (230mm), so that is the overall height that I am aiming for.

I decided to build the box with finger joints, so I broke out my screw advance box joint jig. (I built this back in 2013 based on plans from Matthias Wandel at the website and youtube channel)

I like to use a Freud box joint cutter blade set, which gives me 1/4" fingers in the joint.

Also please note that the terms finger joint and box joint are used pretty much interchangeably.

I made a quick practise joint to refresh my memory, as it's been a year since I used this, but it's such a well designed jig that I was comfortable again quickly. I then cut all the joinery for the big lower box.

(In the youtube video, linked above, I go into a LOT more detail about the operation of the jig.)

I applied glues to the fingers and glued up the first box. As the glue was drying I took measurements and then cut out pieces for the smaller sliding tray/box and finger jointed them as well, and then assembled that box also.

I glued and tacked in place some thin plywood for the bottom of the two boxes. I cut the pieces a touch oversize and then used a flush-trimming bit on my palm router to bring them down to perfect size after they had been attached to the boxes. I also then sanded the pieces.

I glued in a pair of six inch boards to provide a shelf for the upper tray to slide on. In hindsight I should have waited, as I then also fitted in a divider in the lower compartment (next photo) and it would have been a bit neater to dado that into these support pieces.

Finally, I applied 3 coats of waterbased polyurethane.

Here is a photo of the box in place in the filing cabinet. It fits nicely and provides lots of well organized storage.

I intentionally left the top tray open at this point. I want to use it for a few weeks (months?) and see what items I like to keep in that tray. Then I may fit in some dividers to further organize the tray.

And then it was time to try and get some "glamour" shots of the project for the youtube thumbnail. It was a tough choice, as I first just took some photos of the boxes, and then I thought I should show the jig, as it featured prominently in the video, but I thought that was a bit too confusing, and finally I shot a bunch of me holding the boxes...

Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)


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See Also:

Building the Woodgears Box Joint Jig

Long Reach C-Clamps

End Grain Coasters