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Jan 17 2015

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Thrift Store Find: Mission Style File Cabinet

Browsing one of the local thrift stores a week or so ago, I found this interesting mission style file cabinet/end table. Now I’ve been meaning to make a wooden file cabinet to replace our cheap plastic one for years and years, but like anything else, if you already have a good enough solution, you hardly ever take the time to make it better. So if I could buy something better for cheap I was all for it.

While it was obvious to me that this was a piece of knockdown furniture, after a little inspection I found it was at least a high quality piece. The body and top were made of solid wood, although the top is probably veneered oak over a cheaper wood, but then again so is my uncle’s expensive dinning room table. It just looked like it needed a little care.

Yesterday I cleaned off my bench and brought the file cabinet into my shop to take it apart and clean it. First I found that the supports for the top were put in upside down and swapped from front to back. I knew this because when I unscrewed the top, the holes in the supports were counter-bored to hide the screws. Taking the cabinet apart further I didn’t find any more assembly mistakes, so I cleaned off each part with some furniture polish. Then I tightened every screw and connecting bolt I could find and also tightened up one of the slides by over bending a few tabs.

I reassembled the cabinet and found it to be sturdy enough using just the cam screws to hold it together. Later if I find the cabinet loose, I can always glue the cabinet together using the generous number of alignment dowels. Next I focused on the top. Of course the store stuck the price sticker right on the top, so I heated it up with my heat gun until it peeled right off. It still left some adhesive behind which I was able to buff off with some furniture polish. The paint was a little more difficult to remove, I scraped off as much as I could and then rubbed as much as I could out with #0000 steel wool. The steel wool did take some of the finish off, but it wasn’t too noticeable.

All I have left to do is find the appropriate knob for the file drawer. Right now I have no plans to refinish the top. I am worried about┬áthe thickness of┬áthe veneer and finding the right stain to match the rest of the cabinet. For right now it’s good enough.

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