a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

File this under “C” for cool tool idea!

on June 20, 2012

“Cool idea, huh!?” I enthusiastically asked, already knowing by the look on his face, the response I was going to get. “Uh huh…” Fred dryly replied, squinting his beady little eyes at me (okay, so this might be just my interpretation of what his eyes looked like at that particular point in this discussion…). 

I have a list of “must try” projects and, along with the list is another list of items needed for the “must try” projects. In this case, a cheap, old filing cabinet from a local thrift store. 

“See? If you turn it this way, and take out the drawers, and then do that…” I started to explain. But, I knew I’d lost him when I saw his eyes glaze over and he let out an obviously large sigh. At that point I realized the only way to further pique his curiosity about my new upcycling project, short of stenciling “Sears Craftsman” on the side of my “filing-cabinet-turned-tool-holder” which, of course, wasn’t going to happen, was to finish it and show him the potential of this beat up little cabinet.

“Why are you doing this?” was the last question he asked before walking away. “Because you weren’t able to stop me haHA!” should’ve been my response but, instead, I defended my filing-cabinet-turned-tool-holder idea and said “it’ll work just fine…”  Now I had to go figure out a way to make it work just fine…

First I took the two drawers out of the cabinet. They were each “latched in” by two metal tabs at the back. It was easy enough to pry them the other way (inward) with a screwdriver (unless this is Fred reading this which, in that case, I used the appropriate tool for the job, whatever that may be).  Then I cleaned it, inside and out. I found remnants of sticky fingers, decals, two “4-year” pins (not sure what those are), and a little spider web. For the gooey things, I used “De-Solv-It.” I love this stuff. It does it all – from gum in your darlings hair to price stickers you’re sure were put on with Gorilla Glue. And it’s safe and environmentally friendly, too (apparently so much so that it’s even been used in the neonatal wards to get the tape residue off babies).

Once it was dry from cleaning I used regular shipping tape to make a “design.” I could’ve just painted the whole thing a solid color but I felt like ‘dressing it up” a bit (stencils or peel-off decals might work as well). Since the back of the cabinet was now going to be the bottom of the tool holder, there was no need to paint that part so I did random stripes around the three sides (the original bottom of the cabinet, which is now the 4th side, was still open at this point).

Though purple was a lot prettier, in my opinion, I used red since Fred was going to have to look at this, too. I know spray paint isn’t the most eco-friendly (if, at all) thing to use but, again, I’m for using what I have on hand and I had this from another project. It’s the kind that’s made to be used with metal so I didn’t have to use a primer. You can use whatever paint will work on metal, whatever delivery method you choose (just make sure you do it in a well-ventilated area and use a mask). It took a few coats of paint, letting them dry in between, but I like the results I got and am happy with the color. It’s looking less like a filing cabinet and more and more like…um, not a filing cabinet.

When the paint was dry (or close enough because I’m not great at waiting for paint to dry), I gently and slowly peeled off the tape to reveal the design. If I do this again, at any point, I’ll take more time with this but, for a first time, I like it. I think it has character and will add some interest to the, otherwise, boring boy garage.

Next I tackled the open side (the original cabinet bottom). Rather than just ‘plugging the hole’ I wanted to make it useful. I looked at a few different options – plywood, pegboard, metal sheeting – before an idea hit me. Someone had given me the slats to their old wood blinds to, somehow, use in my art projects. I decided to try to make my own “lattice panel” to use to hang smaller tools from. I measured the opening – I wanted the panel to be 1/4″ to 1/2″ smaller than the actual size (so I could fit it in!) which, in my case, was 14-1/4″ x 17″.

Feeling somewhat clever, but not to the point of trying to make lattice from old blinds on an angle, I opted just to ‘weave’ it and hope for the best. This would reinforce the strength of the wood and help make it into a single piece I could work with. I had to adjust the slats a bit before I got the outside measurements at 14-1/4″ x 17″. I used a dab or two of super glue to hold the “outside edges” together and secured them with clothespins. When the glue was dry, I scored the pieces that were sticking out, with a utility knife (on a cutting board, not the kitchen table…) and they popped right off. (I also covered two of the 4 sides, top and bottom, with a strip of duct tape – I don’t believe, at this point, that it was necessary, but I left it. Couldn’t hurt).

Then I needed to figure out a way to stick this panel in place. I poked around my craft stuff and found some 3/8″ velcro strips (really now, who doesn’t have extra pieces of velcro lying around?). I put (appx.) 1″ pieces all around the edges of the panel (note: with the open side of the tool holder facing up, I put the panel in the tool holder before I started placing the velcro so I could check to make sure it wasn’t going to be visible anywhere).  Once the velcro was in place, I lifted the panel up to meet the tool holder and gave each a good little squeeze to make sure everything was adhering properly.

I wasn’t sure if it’d work – but, I must say, it did. In fact, I was really pleased with the results. I added a couple of hooks (okay, so these are left-over drapery hooks – but they work really well for this) and was ready to fill my new filing-cabinet-turned-tool-holder.

I’m happy with the way it turned out, including the part about the whole project costing less than $10 and reusing several different “throw away” items; an old filing cabinet, a broken window blind, small pieces of velcro, and old drapery hooks. I’m excited to see what Fred thinks of it now that it’s done but, I’m pretty sure, he’ll be okay with this addition to his man-cave.

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