While delving deeper into the ‘Getting things done’ system I was looking for an appropriate filing cabinet. I checked out several office stores in Switzerland and couldn’t get hold of a matching system. Everything is filed in suspension files.

I then saw that overseas Manila folders are used for paper filing systems. Unfortunately Manila folders are not sold around here. Without an appropriate system at hand I decided to build the whole stuff from scratch.


I have chosen the Elco paper files for storing my documents: Elco Ordo


As these files do not have an Index I had to look for an alternative. 3M sells strong Index stickers that are big enough to write on with a water proof pen.


For the filing box I looked for a solid box like the Rako system box. The dimensions just didn’t fit. I also checked archive boxes but those came in very unwieldy. Without a further ado I started to sketch my own reference box. My starting points were the following requirements:


-          Storable in a standard corpus

-          Possibility to have compartments

-          Easy transportable

-          Stackable

-          Solid

-          Durable

-          Non scratching on the floor

The solution I came up with is depicted on the following picture:



Picture 1: Reference filing box with changeable compartments, solid, durable wooden case

The whole construction is very easy. I ordered the wood already cut into the right dimensions (birch plywood) did the grinding and cut the slots. You need a router to cut the slots for the compartments. I consider the slots a very useful feature especially at the beginning when your filing cabinet is not full.


Then I drilled the wholes and screwed the whole box together. Should you be a cabinet maker or a skilled handyman you certainly can do it without screws – giving the perfect touch. You also can also use a base anchor with wheels so you won't have to carry it around anymore - having your mobile file cabinet!


Picture 4: The parts and the finished blank filing cabinet box



Picture 2: Stackable and none scratching on the floor due to flanges and protective felt, easy to carry with rounded handhold,


Just take these few ideas as a starting point for your own filing system. I have several reference filing boxes in use at home and in the office and I am happy with it. Filing is no problem anymore. I have everything at hand in a few seconds when I need it.



At the office I store the box in a standard corpus. At home I just stack the boxes to economize space. The content I use most is then stored on the top.



Here are the dimensions of the parts for my personal reference filing box (dimensions in millimetres). The dimensions are chosen according to my filing folders and corpus. So you should first measure your corpus or your preferred location site and adapt it to your needs.




Base: 582 x 248 x 9

Side elements: 582 x 239 x 9

Front and back: 338 x 248 x 9

Compartments: 326 x 230 x 9

Edges to stack: cut a rectangle of 60 x 40 x 9 diagonally


Have fun with the construction – happy filing.


In case of questions just contact me at gisler@gginfo.com.



Gregor Gisler-Merz, 9.8.2009


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