We wanted to have the file drawer on wheels for two reasons:
- Files are heavy, and opening an unsupported drawer in a filing cabinet can sometimes cause it to tip over. This usually results in profanity from the tipper and guffaws from any onlookers.
- We wanted to be able to roll the whole file drawer out of the storage tower. It’s sometimes easier to file a lot of paperwork if you can bring the file drawer to you instead of you having to get up and go to it. I tend to have a lot of super-important and totally top-secret paperwork on my desk – often several months’ worth.
To keep the file drawer straight and centered when pulling it out and pushing it in, I designed it to work with these ball transfer bearings.
The sides of the file drawer glide along the transfer bearings, and it stays centered and straight, just like me after yoga class.
LOL, totally kidding. I’d die after 90 seconds of yoga.
We could have used regular drawer slides along with the casters, but they wouldn’t allow the drawer to be removed as easily.
I started out by drilling the necessary holes for the steel rod and by drilling the few pocket holes needed for this build.
You can build these industrial bookshelves without pocket holes, but you’ll have to shoot some brad nails through the front face of the file drawer. I know earlier I said that I don’t mind the way they look, but for this project, I wanted to keep the front faces clean (the file drawer and the pull-down door) and keep the nail holes on the sides.
I first attached the back to the sides.
Next I attached the bottom piece. I used 3/4 inch plywood for the base for extra stability. I had it lying around as scrap, so it didn’t cost me any extra money. 1/2 inch plywood would also work fine, but you just need to be careful when screwing in the casters that the screws don’t penetrate through the wood.
I attached the front face solely with pocket screws – no glue – just in case I messed something up and needed to move it up or down. I clamped it in place and then drove in the pocket screws.
Almost built – just needs wheels!
I used a speed square to keep the wheels perfectly aligned.
All done, except for the steel rods and the handle. They come later, after sanding, staining and sealing.
Before sanding the
mango plywood, I first drilled screw holes in the angle iron. I marked one iron according to the measurements given on page 3.
After drilling one, I used it as a template for the other 7 pieces. I laid the drilled piece on top and drilled down into the bottom piece.
When all the iron was drilled, I cleaned them with mineral spirits, took them outside and painted them.
While the paint dried, I went back to the basement to start sanding the plywood. Hey, it’s not mango, but it’s the best I got, alright?
I used a detail sander for the insides of the boxes and the top shelf of the upper piece. I’m not sure what happened with my
squawking hen esteemed photographer, but all of my sanding pictures are blurry.
I really don’t know how that’s possible with today’s smartphones, but my babes managed to figure it out! Then again, she also figured out how to kill a wisteria, so…
Oh crap, she heard me.
Phew, lost her.
Okay where was I? Oh yeah. Sanding. I used a random orbit sander on the rest – much faster than the detail sander, but if the detail sander is all you have, it’ll do the trick.
After sanding and wiping away all the dust, I got ready to stain. This was going to be a lot of staining, so I put on my organic solvent respirator – a must for any prolonged exposure to stain or poly.
Then there’s this one…
Yeesh, somebody bring the squawking hen back in! At least she’d tell him how dorky he looks!
I don’t have any pictures of the staining, since I was all gloved up and swimming in solvents, but you know how it goes.
After two days, I gave everything a couple of coats of wipe-on poly. I wasn’t looking to build up a shiny finish – I just wanted to seal the wood a little.
A couple of days after the last coat of poly, we carried all the components into the craft room for final assembly.
We laid the 3 main pieces on the floor and attached the first angle iron to the bottom piece. You can see that I didn’t paint the screws before assembly. Later, Handan and I sprayed some flat soft iron into a cup and painted each screw with a brush.
Don’t be stupid like me – pre-paint your screws. You may have some small touch-ups here and there, but overall, it will be so much easier than painting 104 screws by hand.
While you’re at it, make sure to spray the hinges, too.
We used spacers to get the correct distance between the bottom and middle components. For the top piece, we aligned it with the top of the angle iron.
Then we attached an angle iron to the other side. You may notice some pocket holes in there. Before I could realize it was a mistake and not needed (and an eyesore), i had already pre-drilled all of the tops and bottoms with pocket holes. Instead of scrapping everything and spending more money, I kept the pieces for the bottoms and middles, as those pocket holes are not seen. I did have to buy more wood to rebuild the tops, though. No matter how you looked at it, the tops looked terrible with pocket holes.
As usual, my lessons are all learned through lost time and wasted money! But hey, I’m your crash test dummy (strong emphasis on dummy), so you guys can do it right the first time!
We rotated the storage tower and attached the next angle iron.
Screw, screw, screw. It’s all I do!
Wait a minute. That doesn’t sound right.
After attaching the final angle iron, we flipped the storage tower on its back so I could install the ball transfer bearings.
I measured up 6 inches from the bottom and in 2 inches from the front for the first bearing. The other bearings, I attached at about 8 inches and 13 inches in and 6 inches up from the bottom. I repeated this on the other side of the box.
To protect our laminate floor, we trimmed some stick-on furniture pads and stuck them along the bottom edge, so we could slide our DIY storage towers around the room without worry.
We put one storage tower in its place, and we prepared to install its cabinet door.
Installing the door took both of us, so I don’t have any pictures, but it’s pretty straightforward.
Once the hinges, magnetic catch and knob were installed (and after we painted all those screws and hinges!), we rolled the file drawer into its place and our DIY industrial bookshelves / storage towers were finished and ready to be filled!
What do you think about our West Elm inspired DIY storage towers? Let us know in the comments!
If you’re following along with the craft room makeover, here’s how we stand:
Craft Room Makeover Checklist
Craft room ideas and laying out the game plan Paint the walls, ceiling and trim Paint the French door Carpet removal Install laminate flooring Buy curtains and install curtain rods DIY craft table for Cricut DIY / buy a computer desk DIY Closet makeover DIY Industrial Bookcase (West Elm Inspired)
- Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle
- Upcycled craft room storage
- Craft room makeover reveal
Click here to see more craft room makeover posts as we continue to cross items off our checklist!
Click on ‘Next’ to see the Supplies List, Cut Sheet and Step-by-Step Plans.