How to Build a Lateral File Cabinet: Woodworking Plans for Beginners


A lateral file cabinet is a great addition to any office, providing ample storage space for important documents and papers. While you can always go out and buy one, building your own cabinet can be a rewarding and cost-effective project for woodworking beginners.

Why Build a Lateral File Cabinet?

Building your own lateral file cabinet can be a great way to:

  • Save money by building your own furniture instead of buying it
  • Customize the cabinet to fit your specific needs and preferences
  • Learn new woodworking skills and techniques

Tools and Materials

Before you get started, it’s important to gather all of the necessary tools and materials. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Router
  • Clamps
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood stain or paint
  • 1/2 inch plywood
  • 1×3 lumber
  • Drawer slides
  • Cabinet handles
  • Wood dowels

Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to get started. Follow these steps to build your own lateral file cabinet:

Step 1: Cut the Plywood

Using your table saw, cut your plywood into the following pieces:

woodworking plans lateral file cabinet plywood

Two 28-inch x 35-inch pieces for the sides, two 28-inch x 19 1/4-inch pieces for the top and bottom, and one 1/2-inch x 28-inch x 18-inch piece for the back. Sand all edges of the plywood to ensure a smooth finish.

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Step 2: Build the Cabinet Box

Using wood glue and wood screws, assemble the sides, top, and bottom to create the cabinet box. Use clamps to hold the pieces in place while the glue dries. Ensure that the corners are square and the box is level.

woodworking plans lateral file cabinet cabinet box

Step 3: Install the Drawer Slides

Measure and mark the placement of the drawer slides on the inside of the cabinet box. Use a router to create a groove for the slides to attach to. Attach the slides to the cabinet box using wood screws.

woodworking plans lateral file cabinet drawer slides

Step 4: Build the Drawers

Cut the 1×3 lumber to create the drawer frames. Use wood glue and wood screws to assemble the frames. Cut the plywood to create the drawer bottoms and attach them to the frames using wood glue and wood screws.

woodworking plans lateral file cabinet drawers

Step 5: Install the Drawers

Attach the drawer handles to the front of the drawer faces. Insert the drawers into the cabinet box, ensuring they slide in and out smoothly on the drawer slides.

woodworking plans lateral file cabinet installing drawers

Step 6: Add the Back

Attach the back piece of plywood to the cabinet box using wood glue and wood screws.

woodworking plans lateral file cabinet back

Step 7: Sand and Stain or Paint

Using sandpaper, sand the entire cabinet to ensure a smooth finish. Apply wood stain or paint in your chosen color and let dry completely.

woodworking plans lateral file cabinet stain


Building a lateral file cabinet is a great way to enhance the look and functionality of your office. With these woodworking plans for beginners, you can learn new skills and techniques while saving money and creating customized furniture that fits your needs perfectly. Get started today and create a beautiful lateral file cabinet that you can be proud of!

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