The 10 Best File Cabinets

Updated May 16, 2017 by Chase Brush

10 Best File Cabinets
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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. With just about every home these days having a dedicated office, or at least a corner carved out of a room for a desk, most people will find they need one of these file cabinets to hold all their bills and other personal papers. Of course, we've also included some sturdy models that can handle the rough and tumble of a busy workplace, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best file cabinet on Amazon.

10. CommClad Commercial

The CommClad Commercial boasts four letter-size drawers in a tall, skinny design that makes it great for use in tight spaces. The metal sides may dent easily, but you can keep documents you need to access regularly in the top compartment to minimize the need to crouch.
  • id inserts for easy labeling
  • adjustable wire follower in drawers
  • no anti-tipping mechanism
Brand CommClad
Model 514PP
Weight 102 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Nexera Essentials Mobile

The Nexera Essentials Mobile is the perfect addition to an office where lots of material constantly need to be moved around. With two catch-all drawers and one filing compartment all mounted on sturdy casters, it can handle the filing needs of high volume businesses.
  • comes in several different finishes
  • drawers glide smoothly
  • veneer chips easily
Brand Nexera
Model 8092
Weight 60 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Home Decorators Collection Oxford

The Home Decorators Collection Oxford is a classic-looking piece that will brighten up any home work space. It has a hardwood veneer that gives it incredible durability and creates an all-around smooth surface that never splinters or cracks, plus it's easy to clean.
  • drawers extend fully
  • extra wide interiors
  • doesn't have wheels to roll around
Brand Home Decorators Collect
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Bush Furniture Cabot Lateral

The Bush Furniture Cabot Lateral has an interlocking file mechanism that prevents it from tipping when you open a heavy drawer. It's also the same height as most standard desks, so you can put it next to yours and extend your usable surface area.
  • meets ansi safety standards
  • 1-year warranty is included
  • the handles feel cheap
Brand Bush Furniture
Model WC31880-03
Weight 84.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Sauder Harbor View Lateral

The Sauder Harbor View Lateral has four little cubbies that are perfect for holding supplies, like paper or some pens. The two-knob handles make it easy to open, and it features a built-in lock, so you can rest easy knowing all your stuff is secure.
  • antiqued white finish
  • clear assembly instructions
  • back is made of thin wood
Brand Sauder
Model 158002
Weight 110 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Calico Designs 51100

With five smooth-rolling casters and a low profile that fits under most desks, the Calico Designs 51100 is a good storage solution when space is limited. It has one deep filing drawer, plus two shallow ones that allow you to quickly access frequently-used documents.
  • includes a utility tray
  • can support a lot of weight
  • top is made of plastic and can crack
Brand Calico Designs
Model 51100BOX
Weight 40.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Z-Line Designs Lateral

The Z-Line Designs Lateral has an elegant espresso finish and a shape that makes it look like an armoire, making it equally suitable for an office or a home. Its extra-wide tabletop makes it the perfect place to display photos, or to place a printer or other equipment on.
  • metal rails for easy filing
  • feels very sturdy
  • lock is difficult to attach
Brand Z-Line Designs
Model ZL2262-2ELU
Weight 75.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Hirsh Industries LLC Pedestal

The Hirsh Industries LLC Pedestal is both sleek and versatile. Instead of handles that stick out, you open the drawers using small indents at the top, which gives the unit a totally flat profile and makes it easy to store away. Plus, it comes to you fully assembled.
  • opens and closes quietly
  • stabilized with counterweights
  • hidden casters for a clean look
Brand Hirsh Industries
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Lorell 25976 Mobile

With its four equal-sized drawers that feature shiny chrome handles and smooth glide suspension, the Lorell 25976 Mobile provides superior storage functionality for any room. Each compartment is designed to hold letter-size or legal-size paper, along with office supplies.
  • casters are removable
  • rolls easily on rugs and hard floors
  • quality steel on the inside
Brand Lorell
Model 25976
Weight 27.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Space Solutions 3-Drawer

The Space Solutions 3-Drawer is a basic but efficient unit that is ideal for painlessly managing your home office or household documents. The shallow top compartment stores letters and other loose papers, while two deeper drawers accept hanging files or office equipment.
  • three-quarter drawer extension
  • best-selling design
  • top two compartments lock
Brand Space Solutions
Model 20225
Weight 27.9 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Safe, Secure, and Sturdy

Regardless of whether you have a home office or you work for a large corporation, chaos cannot be part of the equation when it comes to doing your job. Resources and information must be in a place that's easily accessible and properly organized. While a computer's filing system can help cut down on paper clutter, one can't depend on this technology to maintain documents indefinitely, especially if those documents contain sensitive or private information requiring additional security. For that reason, a file cabinet is a necessary tool for both professional and domestic use.

A file cabinet is a multi-drawer piece of furniture typically constructed from sheet metal, steel, or wood designed to store and organize documents into separate labeled folders that are easy to access. The majority of cabinets are either lateral or vertical in design. Lateral cabinets are wide and offer side-by-side storage of folders and documents, whereas vertical cabinets are taller with front-to-back organization of their file folders. Vertical cabinets are deep, but they take up less wall space than lateral cabinets, making them useful for office storage where space is limited. Lateral cabinets can be placed in wider locations or attached to individual working cubicles.

The drawers of most file cabinets have a handle, thumb latch, compressor, and sliding mechanism. The compressor is an adjustable steel mechanism that moves either backward or forward to allow the manipulation of individual file folders from inside the drawer itself. The sliding mechanism allows the drawer to be opened or closed and its outstop will prevent the drawer from being pulled out completely. The thumb latch for most file cabinets is located near each drawer's handle and must be pressed or pushed to one side in order to open the drawer and access its contents.

Many cabinets also have drawer labels to help the user identify the contents in each compartment. Because they store private and sensitive information, most cabinets incorporate a keyed lock to prevent unauthorized access. Should a file cabinet not have an integrated lock and a business requires additional security, then a locking bar can be installed on the cabinet's outer frame around the drawers to serve a similar purpose.

Choosing Your Cabinet Design

Decor, aesthetics, available space, and storage requirements all play important parts in the type of file cabinet you'll be choosing. The most important consideration is the amount of available space in your home or place of business. For example, if you work for a law firm with small printing and file rooms on the premises, then a vertical cabinet will be easy to place into corners as long as there's enough room to extend the drawers.

If you need additional storage options for your workforce, then lateral file cabinets can also work to an employee's advantage, as these are wider and shorter than their vertical counterparts. That said, they can fit easily under a cubicle desk. Lateral cabinets are also helpful when needing to access the same files several times a day.

A lateral file cabinet allows the user to peak inside and see a variety of file labels all at once. Vertical file cabinets offer a great deal of flexibility for folder organization by letter, number, or subject classification.

Vertical file cabinets are also quite easy to expand due to the depth of their individual drawers. Those cabinets made from heavy, reinforced steel are often fireproof, which adds an additional level of security to documents containing sensitive data.

So is a vertical cabinet better than a lateral one? Both organization styles offer their own advantages. Regardless, they both keep information organized in their own ways. Knowing where one's documents are located, and the knowledge that information is kept secure, makes a person's job easier than if they had to search for individual files all over their workspace with no logical order to them.

One must also consider if they will need to move the cabinet from time to time. Some filing cabinets are built onto caster wheels, which is useful when one requires the need to move the unit from one office room to another without first removing the contents of its drawers or disturbing the organization of those contents.

Since certain cabinets are prone to tipping, researching file cabinets with anti-tip mechanisms such as interlocking drawers will be beneficial as well.

A Brief History Of File Cabinets

The earliest methods of filing systems date back almost five thousands years and included ancient Sumerian use of clay tablets for writing Cuneiform language used to document important information such as weather data and crop yields. These clay tablets were stored in large libraries.

Other early forms of file systems included the use of both leather and papyrus scrolls that were sealed in either stone or earthenware vessels. As early as 2,300 years ago, Greek scribes would fashion books and copies using ink on papyrus and parchment, a thin material made from animal hides. Scrolls would then be stored in large libraries such as the Library at Alexandria.

Fast forward to the invention of the printing press and it suddenly became easier and cost effective to produce multiple copies of publications like newspapers and books than ever before. The documentation and storage of information evolved into a compact form and by the late 1800s, several new methods of filing emerged to organize information both alphabetically and chronologically into small containers. Among these inventions were Shannon files and storage bellows. By 1868, the first multi-drawer file cabinet became available, but it was cumbersome to use because documents had to be laid flat, making the information difficult to organize.

Dr. Nathaniel S. Rosenau is credited with one of the first applications of the vertical filing system, which was also one of many objects presented at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. The earliest vertical file cabinets were made from heavy woods and were soon replaced by steel. Vertical file cabinets are still among the most common types of file cabinets used today.

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Last updated on May 16, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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