Flat File alternative?
October 6, 2010 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Any thoughts on an alternative for this super expensive flat file for a printmaker?

I am a printmaker, still in school, and I need a better way to store my prints at home. Usually, real-adult-grown-ups buy something like this: a flat-file. It keeps dust and light out and keeps prints from curling or bending. Also, it allows for some organization. Downside? It's almost always at least a grand, even for the smaller ones.

I need something that can accomodate prints up to 2.5' x 3.5'. A good number of prints (100? More in the coming year....), and would be protective, archival, etc. I have access to a shop and I know how to use power tools, but I don't have anywhere near the aptitude needed to build a set of drawers. I live in the heart of Chicago, in a relatively small apartment. Also, I don't really want to spend more than $200. Any thoughts, metas? I appreciate any insight ya'll may have.
posted by emilyclaire to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When my partner and I built our house she got her 4'(h) x 6'(w) x 4'(d) flat file, the kitchen cabinets, the tool-room cabinets, the ceramics room cabinets, seven sewing machine bases and the sewing machines, and three sinks for $200. They came from a school that was re-purposing a home-ec classroom.

The snag: the doors were already on when we wanted to move the flat file into her office and it wouldn't fit through the door. It stayed in the garage. It is still fine for things that don't mind a bit of temperature variation.
posted by jet_silver at 10:04 AM on October 6, 2010

Looks like they show up on Craigslist for a few hundred. Here's five drawers for $200. Might just be a case of waiting until the right one shows up for sale or hitting the used office supply stores until you find one whose cosmetics relegate it to home use.
posted by mendel at 10:06 AM on October 6, 2010

Have you looked at other vendors, this place seems to have cheap ones. Note: I've bought stuff through them for work and they were great but never as an individual.
posted by ghharr at 10:15 AM on October 6, 2010

Oops, looks like that was just the base. They do have some files in the $300 range though it looks likel
posted by ghharr at 10:17 AM on October 6, 2010

I myself have snagged (free!!!!) flat files from an office getting rid of them. People don't want to tote those things around--they're heavy. So I think the watch & wait suggestion is right on.

Also, school districts, etc, sometimes auction off surplus furniture and so on. All right, looks like the City of Chicago is only auctioning off vehicles at the moment (anyone need a backhoe?) but maybe if you keep searching...

I actually haven't set up my (free!!!!!!!) flat files yet, so I've been keeping stuff under the bed in a couple of those big plastic under-the-bed storage boxes.
posted by the_blizz at 10:26 AM on October 6, 2010

We picked up a used solid-as-anything 20+ year old version of this for under $200 from a used office furniture place. With the move to CAD, a lot of engineering offices are getting rid of their flat file stores.

A more parsimonious office I worked in bought a cheap kitchen work unit, glued in battens every 5cm or so on the inner side and inside back, and hardboard/masonite sheets laid over the top. They dispensed with doors (it was for printed maps), but you might want something to keep the light out.
posted by scruss at 11:26 AM on October 6, 2010

Lots of them on eBay, some under $200. Shipping tends to be expensive or not offered at all. Search for flat file cabinet, because just flat file also gets all the metal working files.

Also search for plan file, map file, and drawing file.
posted by Bruce H. at 8:34 PM on October 6, 2010

Museums use archival boxes -- either solander boxes (Google it if you want, but they're kind of expensive) or archival cardboard boxes like these which are supercheap, relatively speaking.

I am a curator and have a small but significant collection of prints at home that I store this way -- easy to move (and you know you will, since you're a student), archivally sound, and you can get different sizes.

Also, yes, everyone is right: places will eventually give flat files away free or cheap if you're willing to do the moving; museums also sometimes get rid of old solander boxes, although that's less frequent because they're always useful for something. Does your school have a surplus department? That's where all the office furniture/filing stuff goes when people are done with it, and usually they sell it to the general public at some point in their attempt to get rid of it.
posted by obliquicity at 10:07 PM on October 6, 2010

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