File Base for the Classic Storage Wall System Desk

Submitted by Ana White on Fri, 02/12/2010 - 07:11
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These plans coupled with a few more, and you can create an entire office wall system! This simple plan features two drawers that can be used as a file system, optional base and edge moulding, and a deep countertop space. Drawers use metal drawer guides.


17" wide x 30" tall x 24" deep


Shopping List

1 – Sheet of 3/4″ A1 Plywood or MDF, made into 1×24 boards 

1 – Sheet of 3/8″ Plywood (you won’t need a whole sheet) 
1 – Sheet of 1/4″ Plywood (again, you could use a scrap) 
1 – 1×2 board, 8′ long 
1 – 1×3 board, you will only need 17″ 
1 – Base moulding, less than 2 1/2″ overall width, 17″ long 
1 – 10′ 1×10 board
2 Sets of Undermount Drawer Slides, Less than 23″ Long
5/8″ Brad Nails 
1 1/4″ Nails 
2″ Nails 
Sand Paper 
If you cannot find 3/8″ plywood in A1, then you can use the 1/4″ plwood to build your drawer faces. Just cut 2 sets of rails and stiles for your drawers, and apply the rails and stiles to the fronts and backs of the drawer face center.
Common Materials
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

Cut List for the Box 

A) 1 – 1×24 @ 17″ (Top) 
B) 2 – 1×24 @ 29 1/4″ (Sides) 
C) 2 – 1×24 @ 15 1/2″ (Shelves) 
D) 1 – 1/4″ Plywood @ 16 1/2″ x 30″ (Back)
Cut List for the Trim 
E) 1 – 1×3 @ 17″ (Bottom) 
F) 2 – 1×2 @ 25 1/4″ (Side Trim) 
G) 2 – 1×2 @ 17″ (Top Trim Pieces) 
H) 1 – 1×2 @ 15 1/2″ (Shelf Trim) 
I) 1 – 2 1/2″ Base Moulding @ 17″ (Decorative Base Moulding)
Cut List for the Drawers 
J) 2 – 1×24 @ 12 1/4″ (Bottom of Drawers, you will need to cut 3/4″ off one side to get a bottom measuring 12 1/4″ x 22 3/4″) 
K) 2 – 1×10 @ 12 1/4″ (Backs of Drawers) 
L) 4 – 1×10 @ 23 1/2″ (Sides of Drawers)
Cut List for Drawer Faces 
M) 2 – 3/8″ Plywood @ 13 3/4″ x 11 5/8″ (Backs of Drawer Faces) 
N) 4 – 3/8″ Plywood cut into 1 1/2″ strips, 11 5/8″ long (Rails) 
O) 4 – 3/8″ Plywood cut into 1 1/2″ strips, 10 3/4″ long (Stiles)
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
General Instructions

To convert the file cabinet drawers to hanging file cabinets, you can purchase these rails for about $1.50 each. These will slip right over the drawer sides and voila – you’ve got a hanging file system!
General Instructions. Cut your 3/4″ Plywood or MDF into strips 23 1/2″ wide by 8′ long. These strips become 1×24 boards. Position your cuts to get the most out of each board.
Work on a clean level surface. You can fasten with nails or screws, depending on your tools and the use of this piece. Screws will hold better, nails are easier. My general rule is screw anything that will be “used” like chairs and benches, and nail sedentary pieces like bookcases and hutches. I will leave this up to you. If you are screwing, make sure you predrill and countersink your screws. If you are using MDF, avoid fastening within 1″ of the edge of the MDF. Do not use wood screws on MDF. Wood screws do not have a straight shaft and will split your MDF. I have had luck with drywall screws (after all, drywall is very similar to MDF). Make sure you predrill the entire distance of the screws. It’s going to screeech, so wear hearing protection. And glue, glue, glue.

My favorite option is to screw the “box” together, and then use finish nails to add the frame. That way the frame does not have blemishes, but the piece is built sturdy.

Make sure you take a square of the project after each step. Measure and mark out any joints before fastening. Be safe, have fun.


Step 1

Build the Box. Start by fastening with glue and 2″ fastenerns the shelves to the sides. Then add the top. Check for square and use the measurements above to guide you.

Step 2

Plywood the Back. Add the plywood to the back. Just a note, most furniture stores use cardboard, yes, cardboard for the back of their furniture.

Step 3

Face Frame. Start at the bottom and fasten the bottom, the 1×3, first. Then the sides, then the top, and then the shelf trim. Leave 3/4″ space at the top of the top trim.

Step 4

Top Trim. Finish the top trim, as shown above. Make sure you nail through the face of the top trim into the top of the cabinet, as well as into the top trim piece from the previous step.

Step 5

Step 6

Drawers. Build the drawers by first creating the bottom. Cut the bottom from a 1×24, cut at 12 1/4″ long. Then cut 3/4″ off the 12 1/4″ end, creating a bottom measuring 12 1/4″ x 22 3/4″. Then fasten the back to the bottom. Then the sides. Check for square. Use the undermount drawer slides to attach the faceless drawer into the drawer opening. The drawer will sit flush with the back of the cabinet.

Step 7

Drawer Face. Build your drawer face by fastening the rails and stiles to the back piece using glue and clamps. You may also wish to use brad nails 5/8″ long, or screws. If you cannot find stock in the correct species 3/8″ thick, you can use 1/4″ thick, but you will need to add rails and stiles to the fronts and backs of your center plywood to obtain the total 3/4″ thickness.

With the drawer inserted into the cabinet, arrange the face on the drawer so that there is an even gap around all sides of the drawer face. Then fasten the face the sides and bottom of the drawer.

Help Improve This Plan

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ana (not verified)

Sun, 08/29/2010 - 18:50

Claudia, if a drawer is short or low use, I don't use hardware. But if it's a deep or large drawer, or a drawer that get's used all the time, I do use hardware. Just remember that drawer slides usually need 1/2" clearance and are easy to install.

Melissa (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 17:08

I've been working on this project and am hoping someone who has already finished the project can help with a question. Should "Cut List for the Box," item D read "1 – 1/4″ Plywood @ 17″ x 30″ (Back)" being 17" instead of 16 1/2"? 16 1/2" is too small to meet the side edges since the top is 17". The other plans I've looked at of Ana's meet "flush" with the edges of the project, although some professional furniture doesn't have the plywood meet flush.

Melissa (not verified)

Thu, 10/14/2010 - 07:03

I just got one of the cabinets built, minus the drawers (there's still a lot of finishing work to do, though) and have a couple tips for others using this plan:

1) The middle shelf trim is listed as 15 1/2" in the cut list for the trim, and 14" in the illustration. The illustration's measurement was correct for me.

2) You'll need more than one 1 x 2 x 8' for the project (one is about 2 1/2" too short). If you're making two filing cabinets, three will be more than enough.

This looks nice as a cabinet, without the drawers, for anyone who might want a desk with open shelving (although the shelves are deep). I'm building the desk without the drawers, but will add them eventually.

Have fun--it's a great plan (thanks, Ana!)! :)

Jenny Anne

Mon, 03/14/2011 - 18:09

I just finished a loft bed (my second project) and I think this will be my next one. I have to figure out how to modify it a lot, though, for the little space I want to put a desk.


Sun, 10/02/2011 - 16:14

Thank you so much for your website and all the people that are members!
This project is similar to what I want to do for sewing room. I would like craft table coming out of it in-between from computer desk. When cutting out or crafting I could sit my machines down on floor. I am 5'9" and can not find any thing tall enough to work on.

Guest (not verified)

Tue, 12/20/2011 - 22:47

Ana- Love the site, thanks for all the help! At the beginning you say "These plans coupled with a few more, and you can create an entire office wall system." What/Where are the other plans? I would love to make this for our office. Thanks!


Fri, 07/03/2015 - 05:49

Does anyone have a recommended set of Undermount Drawer Slides?

The $8 set at HomeDepot (Liberty Hardware) seems very flimsy. Rockler has some $35 Tandem Blumotion Drawer Slides that would more than double the cost of the project.

Is there a middle option? Do the cheap ones work fine?

Any tips for installing these slides? The directions for the cheap slides say I need 1/4 inch space/clearance on the bottom and 5/8 on the top. There needs to be 1/2 clearance on each side of the drawer. These plans look to be more than accommodating for that space.

Thank you in advance for your tips and suggestions. These plans look great and the pics that you have shared have inspired me to take this on!