You might be thinking, “Aren’t magazine files already easy to find and pretty cheap?” It gets even easier and cheaper, my friend. One sheet of plywood = EIGHTEEN files! At $3.50 per top-grade plywood file, I was totally on board.
I was inspired by Ana White’s plans for the same, and I followed her cut list on a 4’ x 4’ sheet of plywood (half of a full-size sheet). One full sheet makes 18 files!! I made 9 and even that felt generous.
To make 9 files, you will need:
- 1 half-sheet (4′ x 4′) of plywood, 1/4″ thick. (Use a full sheet for 18.) I sprang for hardwood ply, because I’m worth it.
- 1×4 length of timber, 8’ long. Technical note: my piece was actually 19mm x 90mm x 2.4m, because of the metric system. The actual size is nearly the same.
- PVA glue
- Quality painter’s tape
- Clamps (optional)
- Finishings of your choice: paint, varnish, decoupage paper, etc
Cut the board into three 10″ wide strips and three 4″ wide strips, as shown. If you ask nicely at the hardware store, they can cut the strips for you. You can saw through the remainder with whichever saw you have at home, even a hand saw if necessary.
I used a circular saw to make the long cuts. (To guide it on a straight line, I clamped a spare 1×4 to the plywood to act as a guide for the saw.) The short cuts were done on a drop saw, which was easy to set on a 30º angle.
- Using the 4” strips, cut nine pieces that are 6¼” long.
- Using the 4” strips, cut nine pieces that are 12” long.
- Using the 1×4, cut nine pieces that are 10” long.
So you’ve got all your pieces cut. Great! Time for assembly. These are the pieces you need for each file.
Glue the base piece to the bottom edge of one side, centered. Then glue the other side piece to the base. Tip: use a spare 1×4 section to prop up the piece while gluing.
Use painter’s tape to hold together all the pieces as you glue them together – sides, front and then back.
(If you have clamps, they also do the job – but I found the tape to be gentler and easier for positioning the timber.)
I left the glue to dry overnight. The next day, I added a touch of wood putty in some of the cracks for a flush finish. A light sand took care of any mess from the glue and putty.
My pieces of plywood were starting to look like magazine files!
I went for a very simple finish on these files, in a similar vein to my Scandi dresser makeover: I used danish oil on the sides and semi-gloss paint for the fronts and backs.
(As an extra precaution, I even put little felt feet on the bases.)
I gave them another couple of days for the finishes to cure, and then excitedly placed them in my study. (The bookshelf is another DIY project. Yay welding!)
Pretty handsome, hey? I like the severe profile of my files, all straight lines and solid-coloured panels. I have a thing for Scandinavian-influenced minimalism!
There are so many ideas for customizing them with your own designs: polka dots, crosses, stencils, stripes, chalkboard paint, decoupaged paper with mod podge… it’s endless. You can also find label plates at a craft store and add those on, too. I keep my files mag-side out so I didn’t worry about it.
This bookshelf is looking tidier than ever. (There’s five here, but the other four are about to join the crew very soon.) Even IKEA couldn’t sell me wooden magazine files this cheaply — if you need loads of these, definitely give it a shot making your own!