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Wood File Cabinets – How To Select The Right One
File cabinets come in many sizes, styles and quality levels. In addition to offering a way to organize and access your documents, filing cabinets can also become flexible and useful pieces of furniture that can be used in almost any room of your home or office.
You can buy either metal or wooden filing cabinets. Wood, specifically solid oak, is the most attractive and durable material you should look for. It will last a very long time and will be an attractive addition to your home or office.
The many styles of solid wood filing cabinets include Mission, Contemporary, and Traditional and come in several standard sizes, including:
- Letter size file cabinets that usually only hold 8.5″ x 11″ paper, but can also be used for 8.5″ x 11″ folders.
- Legal file cabinet size that will generally hold 8.5″ x 14″ and 8.5″ x 11″ paper.
- Lateral file cabinets that come with 2 or 3 drawers and typically hold 8.5″ x 11″ and 8.5″ x 14″ paper.
- Personal filing cabinets, which are generally smaller and only hold 8.5″ x 11″ letter binders
A letter or legal file cabinet can be used in an alternative way by sliding the metal brackets.
Wooden filing cabinets are available with 2, 3, 4 or even 5 drawers. When deciding which of them would be the most suitable for you, consider not only the amount of necessary file storage, but also the other possibilities of using the filing cabinet as a piece of furniture. It can be used as an end table, storage cabinet, credenza, DVD or video cassette cabinet, bedside table or place for your printer, fax machine, copier or coffee machine.
If you want to place some of the above items at desk height, a 2-drawer cabinet gives you a 30″ high platform. If you stack several in a row, you can have quite a large area. A side file with no seam in the middle also offers this advantage. Look for file cabinets for this purpose with recessed sides so there are no gaps between cabinets.
A 3-drawer filing cabinet that’s about 43″ tall offers more storage space per square foot of floor space, and you can still fit plants or other lightweight items on it. A 4-drawer filing cabinet that’s about 55″ tall offers a whopping amount of storage space, as well as an even taller but rare 5-drawer filing cabinet. We do not recommend putting anything other than a very light object on top.
Any piece of furniture that has a lot of weight can be dangerous. An important safety issue with filing cabinets is the risk of tipping over and crushing. Large and heavy file drawers can cause the file to tip forward. Therefore, several things can be done to minimize this danger.
- Do not fill the binder in the top drawer while leaving the bottom drawers empty.
- As mentioned above, do not open more than one drawer at a time.
- Attach the file cabinets to the wall to prevent them from tipping over.
- If possible, put your heaviest items in the bottom drawer (to act as an anchor).
- Do not place attractive items such as televisions and games on top of tip-prone furniture unless properly secured. Children can climb for the remote control or turn on the TV with dire consequences.
CHOOSE A HIGH QUALITY WOODEN PIN CABINET
The lowest quality wooden filing cabinets are generally manufactured for customer assembly. This is usually more difficult than you expect and uses “cam” mounting hardware. You’ll also want to stay away from filing cabinets that are made of particleboard. Even though the label may say it’s made of wood, don’t be fooled as this description can still refer to chipboard, so be careful. According to the Furniture Manufacturers Association, solid wood includes chipboard. What you really want to look for is SOLID wood – either solid oak, pine or cherry.
Another thing to keep in mind is that for the file cabinet to support a lot of weight, it should have adhesive screws and clamps – not locks in the chipboard.
You also know the difference between a printed drawing, real wood veneer and solid wood without chipboard. The easiest way to tell if a piece of furniture is made of solid wood is to see how the drawing is done. If the end grain runs in the wrong direction (perpendicular to the other grain), it is probably veneer. I’m not saying veneers don’t have their place if done right, but you shouldn’t be fooled into buying what you’re looking for/knowing what you’re looking at.
Wooden drawers are best made with English dovetail joints. If the drawer is assembled with cams, it will not hold together. A glued and stapled socket may be an acceptable method of assembly as long as staples hold the assembly together until the glue dries.
Another important element of the filing cabinet is the hardware used to open the drawers. Check the sliding system. Make sure it pulls out smoothly and evenly? How does the tracking system work? If the drawer extends less than 90%, you will lose storage space and it will be difficult to pull documents from the back of the drawer. Euro type roller gliders are not acceptable for any file cabinets. This type of roller system works with two interlocking wheels on a spindle and won’t support the weight of a filing drawer and probably won’t last very long at all. A better slide system for filing cabinets is a full ball bearing – full extension slide system with at least 100 lbs.
Also consider whether or not you want to lock your drawers. You can put a lock on each individual drawer. This is the easiest way to lock any particular drawer that you want to keep prying eyes out of. You can also lock all the doors with the key directly on the top drawer and the mechanism will lock all the doors below. Locking systems on quality wood files can be expensive and can sometimes cause access problems.
A wise consumer will take all these indicators into account when choosing a wooden filing cabinet. If you stick to solid wood and good glide and avoid DIY assembly, you will have good access to your files and your cabinet will last a very long time.
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