Wood Magazine File

Beginner Projects
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Make your own wood magazine files with bookplates and decorative faces for $2.50 each! These quick and easy magazine files will create order and style in your home!

It is always the most simple of projects that require the deepest thinking. What's the term? 

Deceptively simple.

Believe it or not, it's taken me three go arounds to finally get to the point where I'm not just confident about posting plans for you, but making eighteen more for myself!  Finally, magazine file plans that are easy, inexpensive and sturdy - but not bulky or heavy!
And no longer deceptively simple!  Thanks to my numerous attempts (two to be precise that did not work out so well) making your own magazine files is not just cheaper but also easy to do!  Read on!
This is just a sneak peak of what my office is becoming (I'm pretty excited!) and these DIY magazine files with pretty fronts and book plates are certainly not hurting!
And if you want a more contemporary look at an even cheaper budget, try just painting the ends with chalkboard paint.  

$2.50 Each!!!

For solid wood!  With book plates!  Now everywhere I look, you can't buy the cardboard ones for under $10! And these ones are going to last you forever and ever.
I used scrap 1/4" PureBond Plywood (remember I'm committed to no more Formaldehyde furniture in my home), but to be fair, I'll give you an estimate of what each could cost if you were to go and buy all the materials today.

$1 in Wood Per File

You can make 18 magazine files from 1 full sheet of PureBond Plywood - so a little over a $1.00 in wood.

$.25 Per Bookplate

Book plates were found in the scrapbooking aisle at Joanns and cost $0.25 each.  I don't know why I haven't been using these for furniture!  They are the real deal, but cheap and come in a variety of sizes.  Mine came with brads, but you may need to purchase screws or brads.

Scrapbooking Paper is Pretty AND Cheap!

I used 1/3 sheet of scrapbooking paper for the decorative faces, amounting to $0.15 each.  I loved this stack called Linen Closet.

Other Stuff

We'll estimate the remaining $1.10 is for the bottom 1x4 board, nails and glue and modge podge.  
So how bout that?  Two and a half bucks and your precious magazines that you just can't quite bear to toss can now look pretty and organized in your office!  
How should we organize, by season or by title?

UPDATE: When I figured the 18 magazine files per sheet of 1/4" plywood, this was assuming a 45 degree angle on the sides. But I choose a 30 degree angle because it is easier to cut with a standard sliding 10" mitersaw. With a 30 degree angle, you will only be able to make 15 magazine files from a sheet of 1/4" plywood. If you would like to maximize the number of magazine files you can make, cut the ends at a 45 degree angle, longest point 12".

Dimensions are shown above. Sized to fit standard letter size with room.


Shopping List

1/4" plywood (for 9, use 1/2 sheet - for 18, use full sheet)
1x4 @ 8 feet long - 1 for 9, 2 for 18
Glue (Gorilla glue would be great here)
1 1/4" finish nails
Painter's Tape
Book Plates and fasteners
Modge Podge
Scrapbooking Paper (3 sheets for 9, 6 sheets for 18)

Cut List

Per File:
2 - 10" strips @ 12" long, one end cut at 30 degrees off square, longest point measurement (see diagrams in step 2)
1 - 1x4 @ 10" (bottom)
1 - 4" strip @ 12"
1 - 4" strip @ 6 1/4"

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Have your hardware store cut your plywood into strips as shown in the diagram. Otherwise cut your plywood with a tablesaw into strips as shown in the diagram.

By cutting into strips, you can be sure that the plywood grain is all in the right direction, and your wood pieces are consistently the same width.

Step 2

When you cut your sides, you will be able to use the same cut for both sides as shown in diagram. I used one side as a pattern to cut all of my sides from.

Step 3

When you are finished cutting the pieces, nail the sides to the bottom as shown above with glue and 1 1/4" nails.

Here is a trick I do quite a bit when I'm working in the garage alone.  Since the 1x4 and 2x4 are the same height, I just put a scrap 2x4 under the unsupported half of the side I'm fastening, and then can dedicate my attention to nailing the side to the bottom.

Step 4

Once both sides are on, attach the front. You can only nail to the 1x bottom board. Glue the sides and tape with the painter's tape, getting the tightest possible joint.

This is actually the back shown, but you get the idea.
If you would like your magazine files to have a lower front, certainly, just cut the sides at a steeper angle and make the front lower.  No biggie!

Step 5

Step 6

For the decorative fronts, cut pieces of the scrapbooking paper to the size of the fronts (should be exactly 1/3 sheet of scrapbooking paper). Apply a coat of modge podge, apply the paper, followed with another coat of modge podge. Let dry.

Step 7

Mark the desired location of the bookplate holes.

Step 8

Drill holes with a bit matching the holes in the bookplates at the marked location.

Step 9

Attach bookplates to magazine files with the brads or screws if using screws. If using brads, use a hammer to flatten the brads inside the magazine file.

Step 10

Fill with magazines and enjoy!

Step 11

And for a more contemporary look (not to mention cheaper and easier) simply paint the faces with chalkboard paint!

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.


Kathy Webster-Link (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 07:44

These are beautiful! Thank you for the plans and instructions. I forsee some beautiful craft room organizing in my future.


Thu, 09/22/2011 - 07:48

Wow - thanks, Ana! Gone are the days when I buy the ugly, flimsy ones from Ikea! And, I love that you used scrapbooking book plates for hardware - that is such a great money saver!

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 09:49

I love this project as a mom of a young-not-so-rolling-in-the-money family I love that this project is affordable to make and personalize and cheaper than buying! Plus I love (underlined, maybe twice) the curtains that are in the corner of the final pic. If you don't mind sharing I would love to know where you got those!

Cherie Heltne (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 09:51

Your office is looking beautiful! You just made my day! I have a ton of 1/4 plywood in the garage just begging to be made into these fabulous organizational tools! Can't wait to build some this afternoon!

Ana White

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 09:56

Thank you everyone, truly an easy project!

The curtains are DIY - I actually haven't quite finished them yet, but will let you know the fabric is available at Joanns and is the Modern Essentials print. Will post more details on that too!

Lori Ferris (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 10:17

We keep some gardening magazines in our community garden shed for reference and enjoyment. The cheap ones just don't hold up to 40 families, but these will be perfect!

Thanks Ana!

Stacie (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 10:29

Way to go Ana. These are just what I needed today! Pinning this one right now and liked it on Facebook. I love sharing the Ana White love! :) Thanks so much.

Rhoni T (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 11:08

awe-sum!! In the big messy middle of moving my office to the single car garage from the small spare bedroom. I love it, I can make these the size I need for 12x12 scrap paper YEAH!!!! and I love that 1- the don't cost anything 2- I can paint and make them to match me decor Woo Hoo, supper excited about this build.

Stacie (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 11:34

Great idea to make them to fit 12 X 12! Thanks for suggesting!

Rhoni T (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 11:34

right after I finish the shelves to put them on. NO rain all summer and too hot to work outside, so now that it has cooled off we get the rain. I can not complain, about the rain, it is way to much needed!!!

Cindy from Indiana (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 12:14

Yay - I love these and I need them for the new office area (which is also on the to-do list LOL)!

At this rate, there won't be a room in my home that isn't 'furnished by Ana'.

Debbie Christianson (not verified)

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 19:24

I just ordered a dozen cardboard ones from Amazon!!! Didn't even think to build them! I hope they have an easy return policy. :)


Sun, 09/25/2011 - 11:51

I just saw these last night and fell in love with them. I sent hubby to the hardware store so I can make these after I get done working. I'm so excited to get my beloved Southern Living magazines out of shoe boxes under my bed!

Liz Williams (not verified)

Sat, 12/10/2011 - 05:49

I just picked up some discontinued wallpaper sample books from a local paint store for FREE! I'm giving them to my daughter for Christmas for decorating her dollhouse. They would be perfect for this project. And, the glue is included on the back of the paper. This makes these cute magazine organizers even cheaper!

how to get rid… (not verified)

Wed, 12/21/2011 - 22:39

It's my first time visiting here. I discovered countless intriguing stuff within your weblog especially the on-going conversation. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I'm not the only person relishing reading your website. Carry on the good work.

Ms. Carpenter (not verified)

Sat, 01/14/2012 - 00:03

But you can't call something made of plywood "solid wood", especially if you ever sell them. Solid wood implies that there's no filler, and plywood can be more than half glue which coincidentally, is what makes it superior to solid wood for small stuff like this. Less warping and suchlike.

In reply to by Ms. Carpenter (not verified)

Ana White

Sat, 01/14/2012 - 00:50

You are so right, sorry for the error on my part. If you wanted to make from solid wood, you can purchase 1/4" thick hobby stock, but you are right, mine are made of 1/4" thick plywood. Will update post. Thanks for taking your time to make our site better. Ana

AngelaJ (not verified)

Tue, 02/28/2012 - 14:32

Hi Ana - thanks so much for your inspirational website and all the time you must put into it. I have just bought myself a Ryobi mitre saw & stand and can't wait to get started on the list of projects I love from your site! These look simple enough to start with (first ever project) - can't wait for the weekend!!!

the speckled kat (not verified)

Sun, 07/15/2012 - 10:42

Thanks so much for sharing this!! I have been searching all over the net for magazine holders to put my scrapbook paper in, which I can easily modify to fit. I can't wait to make a trip to the hardware store and get started! The first step to my dream craft area! yay!!!


Fri, 05/03/2013 - 18:36

The most common dimension is 1.2m × 2.4m or the slightly larger imperial dimension of 4 feet × 8 feet. Plies vary in thickness from 1.4 mm to 4.3 mm. diese The amount of plies depends on the thickness and grade of the sheet but at least 3.


Mon, 08/03/2020 - 09:21

I literally looked at my shelf of cardboard magazine files this morning and thought I could make them from wood. Scrolling through the project lists here I came across this post. LOVE IT! I'll be making some soon.