DIY Network

How To Give a File Cabinet a Makeover

Beautify a metal file cabinet with bead board and wood veneer. This one's been stained green and finished with a striated effect to fit a country French home office.

More in Decorating

give a metal file cabinet a makeover
  • Time


  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Clean the file cabinet

Remove all the hardware from the file cabinet, and clean the metal surface thoroughly.

Step 2: Attach the bead board

Remove the drawers, and place the cabinet on its side. Apply construction adhesive to the side facing up, and carefully set the bead board in place. Use planks of scrap wood and bricks to hold the bead board in place while the adhesive dries. When the first side is complete, flip the file cabinet over, and cover the opposite side the same way.

Step 3: Iron on the veneer

The cabinet's top and drawer fronts are covered with iron-on wood veneer. Align the factory edges of the veneer with the front and side of the top of the file cabinet. Set the iron on the cotton setting, no steam, and press the veneer in place. The heat of the iron will melt the adhesive, sticking the veneer to the metal. It may be difficult to make the previously rolled veneer lie flat. Be persistent: it will eventually flatten out. When applying veneer, make sure the wood grain for all pieces is going in the same direction.

When the top has been ironed in place, use a sharp utility knife to trim the veneer flush with the side and back of the cabinet top.

Cover each drawer with veneer, using the same method.

Step 4: Attach the hardware

After attaching veneer to the front of the cabinet drawers, create holes for attaching the hardware by drilling through the original holes from the inside of each drawer.

Trim the edges of the front of the file cabinet by ironing on wood veneer trim in the same wood tone as the veneer sheets.

After covering the entire cabinet with wood and veneer, sand it smooth. Wipe the surface clean with a tack cloth, and paint or stain as desired. Add new drawer pulls.