Painted Oak Filing Cabinets

Painted oak file cabinets -


Sorry for the technical difficulty yesterday.  That was just my Flintstone fingers that hit “publish” instead of “save draft”.   Here is the actual post ….. with pictures!!

* * * * *

Have you noticed that when you’re on the hunt for something specific, you can never seem to find it??  But before you were actually looking for the item, they were everywhere?   That’s how it went when trying to find a matching file cabinet to one I had purchased at a garage sale …. oh …. about  two years ago!


They were either way too expensive or a cheap reproduction.  I wanted solid wood, and I finally found one at a good price that was close, but not quite an exact match.


Painted Oak File Cabinets -


The plan had always been to float an old door and plexiglass over the top and use it as a crafting station up in the bonus room.   But then the pair just sat …. and sat … and sat.  I knew what the problem was.  Those are some pretty deep drawers.  I was afraid the drawers might become an abyss. Would things go in, but never come out??  Since I’ve challenged myself to let go of items I don’t actually use, (and that includes craft supplies) this probably wouldn’t make a great crafting station for me.   (But if I were into paper crafts or it was going to be used in an office, this desk would be THE BOMB!)



Painted Oak File Cabinets -



While I’m a little disappointed this isn’t a desk reveal, they are rather handsome file cabinets. 😉



Painted Oak File Cabinets -



There is something about the combination of black and brass that make anything look good.



Painted Oak File Cabinets -



This was a pretty strait forward makeover.  The cabinets were first cleaned with TSP Substitute. I couldn’t remove some of the hardware, so I just rubbed a little petroleum jelly on it so the paint wouldn’t adhere.    (I don’t know how, but petroleum jelly also polishes brass–no kidding!!)  The hardware that I could remove cleaned up gorgeously with Brasso.



Painted Oak File Cabinets -



I haven’t painted with powdered milk paint in a while, so that’s what I decided to use for the cabinets.   I think I mixed the paint too thin, because it took three coats to cover, and I was painting with black.  (Who am I kidding … the drips on the garage floor confirm that I mixed the paint too thin!!)   It’s an easy fix — just add more powder and remix.  I have a garage sale immersion blender that I use specifically for mixing up milk paint.



Painted Oak File Cabinets -



I’ve waxed over black paint before and the finish looked a little “cloudy”.  I was going to finish off the file cabinets with hemp oil, but then I got to wondering .. if hemp oil can be a finishing product over milk paint …. why not tung oil?   These garage sale pieces were good ones to experiment on, so tung oil it was



Painted Oak File Cabinets -


The milk paint absorbed the tung oil just like it would absorb hemp oil.   Both products state on the packaging that they penetrate into the surface to protect from moisture and provide the look of a genuine hand-rubbed finish.  Both products have an odor …. definitely comparing apples to oranges on that one.    Huge difference in the price and availability though. Tung oil can be purchased at a big box store for way less than hemp oil.  The final (and most important) test is the “touch test”.    I’m pleased to announce that these cabinets feel silky smooth, without a touch of oiliness.   Just to be sure, I’m going to keep them around the house for a while and see how they hold up.   For today, tung oil is a success.  😀  Do any of you have experience using tung oil?  I would love to hear about your experiences!!



Painted Oak File Cabinets -



Because the cabinets are finished on all four sides, they can be floated in a room.   I’m kind of liking them being used as an end table!



Painted Oak File Cabinets -


They would also make great nightstands for a taller bed.  Sorry, no pictures.  These *&^%$#) are HEAVY!!  No way was I lugging them up the stairs by myself.  (I’m strong … but I’m not stupid!!)


For your convenience, I’ve listed the products used for this makeover. If a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission, but it does not affect your sale price. Just sharing the products that I actually use and like. 😀 


TSP Substitute

150 and 220 Grit Sandpaper


Purdy Paint Brush

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Typewriter

Watco Tung Oil 

Brasso - Oak filing cabinet updated with milk paint and tung oil.


I’ve got a busy week ahead.   I’m starting on a CHURCH PEW (which I’m so excited about!!) and I have my Zumba certification course on Saturday (which I’m a little nervous about!!)   But painting and Zumba are both things I enjoy …. So, I’m a lucky lady.   Hope your week is just as  FUNderful!!  Cynthia


This is where I party:

Confessions of a Plate Addict …. Home Stories A to ZThrifty Décor Chick …. … Savvy Southern StyleMy Repurposed LifeLehman Lane … … Embracing ChangeAverage Inspired Charm Bracelet Diva Seeking Lavender Lane French Country CottageThe Curator’s CollectionPatina ParadiseVintage Paint and More … Interior Frugalista … Celebrate and Decorate ..  … The Painted DrawerDwellings-The Heart of Your HomeBetween Naps on the Porch …  Coastal Charm … Recreated Designs

Thrilled to be featured at:

Be Inspired Link Party @ Elizabeth and Co.

The Painted Drawer

Celebrate Your Story @ Celebrate and Decorate

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21 Responses

  1. Linda C Seattle

    I love the idea of using them as end tables with lots of storage.
    Wish I had room for them here.
    Linda C

    • Thanks, Linda. I think they would also make awesome nightstands for a taller bed. Thanks for stopping by today! Cynthia

  2. The black and brass do look very elegant next to each other!

  3. Cynthia, I just love your file cabinet painted black – so classy looking. Tung oil huh! I just ran out of hemp oil and haven’t had time to run into the city to my supplier to get more. I’m quite surprised that tung oil doesn’t leave an oily residue. I am definitely giving this a try because I do happen to have a large can of tung oil in my workshop. Thanks for the tip!

    • Thanks so much, Marie! I’m not sure how the tung oil would work on other paints, but it worked great on the milk paint! I’m going to keep the cabinets around for a while just to make sure before I sell them. Let me know how it works for you! Cynthia

  4. Cynthia, I love the black milk paint you chose for these pieces. They look totally dreamy with the brass accents. I’ve never used hemp oil or tung oil but I’ve always wanted to try them. I use a lot of chalk paint because that’s usually what my customers prefer so I’ve been a paste wax girl. I love the finish on your pieces though so I’m excited to try the tung oil out now. Hugs, CoCo

    • Thanks so much, CoCo! I’m not sure how tung oil would work over chalk paint, but it worked great with the milk paint. Thanks for taking the time to comment, CoCo! 😀

  5. I like the brass and back too! So much better now!

  6. Cynthia! Beautiful finish on these cabinets! I have never used tung oil but based on your findings I most certainly will now…. does tung oil smell ‘wierd’ like the hemp oil? Gorgeous results! I hope you have a n amazing weekend and I can hardly wait to see your church pew!

    • Thank you, Terry! Tung oil smells a little like stain, but not nearly as intense. I’m not a fan of the hemp oil smell, either. Thanks for always be so encouraging! Take care, Cynthia

  7. Saw you on Chelsea Project. I love this transformation. Very handsome.

  8. Lucy @ Patina Paradise

    The filing cabinets look so classy now in black! Super update. Thanks for sharing at Friday’s Furniture Fix! ;o)

    • Thank you, Lucy! Agreed … the combination of black and brass is a good one. And thanks for hosting each week!

  9. Years ago I bought a pair of cheap pine bar stools with woven rush seats at one of the unfinished furniture stores. I I knew the wood was so soft that it would get scratched easily so I decided to just stain them. When they dried I applied tung oil with a soft cloth ( two coats ). The finish was not shiney, more as just a soft semi gloss, but very hard to the touch. I had those stools for at least 12 years and they were still in good shape until a puppy decided to use them as a teething chew (and we wore the seats out),

    • THANK YOU, Joanne, for sharing your experience with tung oil. Sounds like it was a real success with your bar stools. I’ll definitely be trying it again. Thanks again, Cynthia

  10. Hi Cynthia! Fantastic upgrade on the filing cabinet! Featuring today on the link party and fyi, I joined forces and am now part of the Friday’s Furniture Fix party and just added the link today on my post. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Suzanne, and thanks for the heads up. That’s a great furniture party, and it’ll be a great fit for you! Thanks again, Cynthia

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