Top Tips for Finding Quality Used Office File Cabinets

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File cabinets are one of the most essential office storage solutions. Before purchasing a filing cabinet, consider your current needs and long-term goals to ensure you buy one that will serve your business well.

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Thrift stores and specialty office furniture retailers are popular places to find quality used file cabinets. They often offer many options to meet your specific needs and budget.


While most companies are moving toward a paperless system, many still need to file physical documents. Choosing a filing cabinet that meets your current and future needs and complies with your company’s office aesthetic is essential.

Lateral filing cabinets sit horizontally and accommodate letter-size and legal-size folders in drawers that open from the side. They’re commonly used in smaller offices and next to desks.

A shelf file looks more like a bookshelf and uses shelves to hold folders and binders instead of drawers. This type of filing cabinet can be ideal for more spacious office designs or if you don’t need your files to be hidden from view.

Most cabinets, like the used office file cabinets, come in various colors and materials. Wood cabinets can complement a range of office decor and styles, while medium-density fiberboard (MDF) cabinets have various finish options, including dark brown, gray, and white.


Although more and more paperwork is moving online, many offices still require traditional paper filing cabinets. Whether you need to store a few essential documents at home or an extensive archive in the office, the right cabinet can help keep your workspace organized and efficient.

The most popular file cabinets are lateral files, which typically hold letter- and legal-sized documents. They can be purchased in various widths and drawer sizes, from small models that fit beneath desks to larger standalone units. Some cabinets are even fire-resistant, meeting UL Class 350 1-hour protection standards.

To find the right cabinet for your space, consider storage needs, style, material, and additional features like locking mechanisms and delivery options. Then, shop at thrift stores and specialty furniture retailers to save on durable storage solutions.

Storage needs

The amount of paperwork your office handles will help you determine how much storage space you need. It’s essential to figure out how to organize your files so they are easy to find when needed. You can file documents alphabetically, numerically, or in another way that makes the most sense for your company.

A flat filing cabinet can store more significant documents, such as blueprints or canvases. These cabinets have short, spacious drawers that allow you to lay large files flat so they don’t become damaged.

Look for used filing cabinets at thrift stores or the Salvation Army to cut expenses. These are often in excellent condition and can save you money.


Although more information is being stored digitally, most offices still rely on paper files and require a safe, secure storage solution. A quality file cabinet can provide both. They are sturdy and can easily withstand repeated use without losing structural integrity.

They are often made of durable metal but may also be constructed of wood or a wood composite such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Some models have glass fronts for additional security and aesthetic appeal.

You can find them in vertical and lateral designs, with drawers accommodating up to five inches of paperwork. You can organize them by keeping archive files toward the back of the drawer and storing current files more visibly for frequent access. Regular purging, alphabetizing, and refreshing labels or dividers help keep your files organized and minimize overcrowding.


If you’re storing sensitive documents or items that need security, consider opting for a filing cabinet with locks. This feature is only sometimes standard, but it’s easy to find used options that provide this level of security.

Many cabinets are designed with a cam lock that can be opened with a key or a plunger lock that can be activated by depressing the lock’s body. Both types can keep files secure from thieves and unwanted entrants, but some prefer a plunger lock’s simplicity.

When choosing a file cabinet, consider how much storage you’ll need. For example, lateral files that store letter-width folders front-to-back have less capacity than side-to-side models. This may not be a big deal, but it’s important to know upfront.