If you have read any of my recent posts, you will have seen my recent DIY Home Office Remodel, which is one of our many DIY projects we finished or started to keep ourselves productive and sane while being on lock-down at home due to COVID-19. And, productive we have been! 🙂 In my last post, I shared the makeover of my 4 drawer file cabinet. Today I’m sharing another one of the office-related projects I did as part of the remodel process. If you read the office remodel post, you’ll know I had purchased hubs two ergonomic sit/stand desks as gifts over the course of the previous year, but we hadn’t assembled them as we knew the office was going to get a renovation and we were waiting for the completion of the office before setting them up. These are the desks I had purchased for hubs:
As you can see, there are no drawers on these sit/stand desks. Hubs previous desk was a hand-me-down executive oak desk we got from my parents. It had 3 drawers on each side in addition to a drawer in the center. See how I upcycled an oak desk into rolling file cabinets so hubs can roll these under his new desks to store all the stuff from his old desk!
Tools & Supplies
- Executive Desk (these can be found on Facebook Marketplace or Craiglist for cheap if you don’t already have one)
- 1/2 sheet of 3/4″ cabinet grade plywood
- 2 – 1x3s @ 8′
- 1 – 1×4 @ 8′
- Circular Saw
- Kreg jig
- 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws
- Nail gun
- 2″ brad nails
- Wood Glue
- Measuring tape
- Heirloom Traditions Paint in Iron Gate (black)
- Chalk paint brush
- 4″ foam paint roller handle
- 4″ foam roller refills
Instructions for Upcycling an Oak Desk into Rolling File Cabinets
I unfortunately did not get an image of the desk with all the drawers in it before we removed it from the office, but here is a pic of the desk, minus the drawers:
The first step in converting the desk was to remove the top. The top piece was held on by small metal brackets and screws. I removed the screws, then the brackets, and then the top lifted right off.
Next, I removed the center back board using a mallet and chisel (just make sure not to damage the wood on the side board of the drawer unit).
Once the back center board has been removed, you should have two separate drawer units. Now is a good time to remove the drawer rails on the inside side of each drawer unit by removing the screws attaching the rails to the wood.
Now, off to the shop! The next step was to add the support boards to the bottom of the inside of the drawer units to attach the casters to. I measured the inside width of the drawer unit bottom and cut a 1×3 board to that width for the front and back of each drawer unit. I then used my Kreg Jig to drill two 3/4″ pocket holes into each end of one side of each board.
I then used 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws to attach one of the 1×3 boards to the inside front bottom and inside back bottom of each cabinet.
Now, time to build a top for each drawer unit. First I measured the length and width of the top of each drawer unit. I wanted my top to be even with the back and sides of the unit, but to overlap the front by a 1/2″.
I cut the front and back 1×3 boards first, cutting them to a length that is equal to the width of the top of the drawer units.
Next, I cut the 1×3 boards for the sides of the top. For those, I measured the length of the top of the drawer cabinets and added 1/2″ for the 1/2″ overlap I wanted for the top at the front. I then took that length, and subtracted out the width of the front and back 1×3 boards (should be 2 1/2″ for each board, so 5″ total), and that will give you the length you should cut the side 1×3 boards to. I used my Kreg jig to drill two 3/4″ pocket holes on each end of one side of each side top board.
Now, time to cut the center board for the top piece. Using a circular saw, cut a piece of 3/4″ cabinet grade plywood to the dimensions needed to fit in the frame you built for the top piece (the width of the plywood should be the overall width of the top, minus the 5″ total width of the two side boards, and the length should be equal to the length of the two 1×3 side top frame boards. Use the Kreg jig to drill three 3/4″ pocket holes on each long side of one side of the board, and then drill two 3/4″ pocket holes into each short end.
Use wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws to attach the center board to the frame boards, and then to attach the frame boards together.
Next, use wood glue and 2″ brad nails to attach the assembled top board to the top of the drawer unit. (Note that my drawer units have a pull out board to use as a writing surface or an extra work space, that has to be in place prior to attaching the top, otherwise you won’t be able to get it into place once the top is on).
Once the tops were attached, I filled in all holes and any dents or imperfections in the wood with wood filler and let dry completely. Once the wood filler was dry, I sanded down all surfaces of the cabinets until smooth and even.
Next, I placed both cabinets on their sides and attached the casters to the 1×3 boards that I previously attached to the inside bottom of the cabinets.
Once the casters are on, its time for paint. Since Hubs’ new desks are black, I decided to paint the two rolling file cabinets that I created from his old desk in black as well so they blend with the new desks. I used the 4″ foam roller to apply the first two coats of Heirloom Traditions paint in Iron Gate (black). I then used the chalk paint brush for the 3rd coat and used the stippling technique to get the final, smooth finish.
I then repeated this process to paint each of the drawer fronts.
I repeated this process for the second cabinet and drawer fronts, and then once dry, I moved both cabinets into their home in our remodeled office. My original plan was to store them underneath the new desks, but hubs decided that for now, he wanted them against the shiplap wall, next to the newly madeover file cabinet.
So, don’t throw out that old desk, instead upcycle it into another useful piece of furniture (or two!). Now to figure out what to make out of the top of the old executive desk….. Any ideas??
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