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18th May
written by JAK

Okay, so there don’t seem to be any cute hanging file solutions that fit the Ikea Expedit. Sure you could get a drawer insert or insert with door, but a) you’d still need some type of hardware for the hanging files, b) they’re EXPENSIVE! and c) they don’t come to match the birch finish.

What I wanted was something that matched my decor, was cheap, and was easy. Enter the “DIY File Drawer”.

I’m a big fan of banker’s boxes. They’re a handy size and cheap. Bonus that they fit files. For my project I choose the [IN]PLACE brand banker’s boxes from OfficeMax because they had easy glide file rails (for letter size hanging files) built in and I could get a pack of less than a dozen (they come 6 to a pack).
** UPDATE: Office Max no longer seems to carry the [IN]Place brand bankers boxes. That’s really too bad since they were a great product. I’ve looked for an alternative. The closest I could find was Bankers Box® Hang’N’Stor™ boxes, though they don’t have the plastic rails and are more expensive. You can buy them from StaplesOffice Max, or Amazon**

For each drawer front I used a 13″ x 13″ square of mat board (you could use scrap cardboard).
** UPDATE: It’s one year since I made these…scrap cardboard would have been too flimsy. The mat board is still intact but is starting to bend a bit. **

I cut out a piece of fabric about 1–2″ bigger all the way around (so 15 or 16 inches square). I lay the fabric right-side down on my work surface, and centered the mat board on top of it. Starting with two adjacent corners, I glued the fabric around to the back of the mat board (I used fabric glue). I then glued the corresponding edge fabric too:

Glue the fabric of two adjacent corners and the corresponding edge to the back of the board.

At this point, I placed the drawer front on top of the short end of the banker’s box, centering it horizontally, and lining it up so it was flush along the bottom of the drawer front and the box front.

Center the drawer front horizontally and vertically line it up flush with the bottom of the banker’s box

I then draped the still unglued portion of fabric back over the glued portion so I would have access to the mat board beneath.

Pull loose fabric back to access board

Use an awl or the sharp point of a scissors to bore small holes through the mat board and box front. I spaced these about 1–2 inches in from the inside corners of the banker’s box. Using regular office paper fasteners, I attached the drawer front to the front of the banker’s box. I used small washers on the inside of the box to reduce stress from the paper fasteners on the cardboard.

Affix drawer front to banker’s box with paper fasteners

Place small washers over the paper fasteners before extending the prongs to reduce stress on the cardboard

Glue the fabric at the top corners of the drawer front to the back of the mat board.

Glue the fabric at the top corners of the drawer front to the back of the board

Next, apply glue to the back of the mat board at the sides of the banker’s box.

Apply glue to remaining sides

Then wrap the fabric around the edge and attach. You will likely need to loosen the paper fasteners for this step and it helped me to use a thin pointy object to force the fabric between the back of the mat board and the front of the banker’s box.

Wrap fabric around edge to meet glue; tuck in excess fabric

Now, glue fabric at top of drawer front to back of mat board.

Glue fabric at top of drawer front to back of mat board

I attached a label holder/finger pull as described in an earlier post.

Because of the thickness of the banker’s box cardboard plus the mat board, my mini paper fasteners were barely long enough to go through. I needed to use a scissors to bend back the prongs.

And voilá, my homemade file drawer is finished!

My diy file drawer in all its glory

And here it is with the other containers!

Related post: DIY Magazine Files


  1. Jenn

    You are awesome! This whole project che bello!

  2. Judy

    Thank you SO much for this post!! I have been looking for a file solution for my Expedit office and this was perfect…. I can design my own!

  3. 04/25/2012

    Nice idea. I have linked your post on to the Russian site about customizing Second Street

  4. 05/09/2012

    I am going to do this for mine! Thanks for the great idea! I had purchased the ITSO canvas bins from Target for a different unit 2 years ago. I paid $10 per bin and they have all fallen apart. 🙁

    I plan to use cute Contact paper to cover mine and skip the fabric idea to save some money and make it easier. I think I will also use the Contact paper on the metal magnet board.

    What boxes did you use for the white ones that don’t appear to be covered in fabric? THey look like Bankers Boxes too, but they are too tall.

  5. JAK

    Hi Julie,

    The cream color bins shown in the Expedit unit are ITSO brand from Target. Mine are holding up fine so far, thought I’m not in them every day.

  6. de

    Your expedit looks really cute! I used the 7′ deep in-place boxes, two to a cubby on my expedite. i organize stamps, scissors, etc in bags and office supply organizers with hanging rails, and the shallow boxes don’t’ get too heavy, plus I can have more categories. I kind of like the kraft paper look, but i’m thinking of chalkboard contact paper for the fronts. I got the ziplock hanging files from a library supply company, Brodart I think. It’s been a while.

  7. de

    I so wish contact paper still came in that very realistic woven wicker design I used on the storage boxes in my dorm in the 70’s! They were on top of an armoire, and people kept asking where I got the cool baskets!

  8. Shelly

    Question. Where did you buy the mat board and how much did you pay for it?

  9. JAK

    I think I bought it at Michaels, in the framing department (though it could have been one of the huge JoAnn Fabrics that has a framing dept.). You can also get mat board at art supply stores like Dick Blick’s.

    I don’t remember the exact price, but I bought remnants since I didn’t care about the color (remnants were priced cheaper than purchasing a full sheet). I had them cut the mat board to size for me. It couldn’t have been more than $10 for the board and cutting service. It would be cheaper if you cut the mat board yourself.

  10. Clare

    I could kiss you. Seriously. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Timothy Scott Wason

    This is excellent, much needed.
    Sorry the Banker’s boxes you used are not sold anymore, but you gave enough info to aim the right direction…
    Rather than mat board, I would try the plastic corrugated stuff that’s often used for temporary signs, found at any sign shop, or a Home Depot go to the sign department, they have some there. Stuff cuts very easily with a straightedge and a utility knife. Actually the stuff might be nice enough to use without covering it, it would look like other IKEA things that have that semi-see-through effect.
    Thanks much! Will note here how my hack of your hack works out, when I have tested it.


    One of the nicest looking organization cabinets I have ever seen. Love the designs you picked out! BEAUTIFUL! Thanks for sharing.

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