Convert a Trunk to a File Box…with the help of Joan Rivers, Dr. Phil, and a pesky cat.

Ready for a project that is fast and simple? Me too. Let’s talk about the trunk that we upgraded to a file box.

convert a trunk to a file box

This might not seem ground-breaking, but it is. Our former filing system was This. And This is not a joke.


We are nothing if not classy. And organized.

The thrifted $5 metal trunk-turned-file box has been sitting around for so long that I can’t even find an original photo of it. It began its life dingy gold but has been seriously confused by all of the colors it has been under my roof: first gold, then brown, then red for about 5.4 minutes until Rick asked why there was a fire engine in the house, then blue, and now teal, thanks to a couple coats of Rustoleum 2X Lagoon.

convert a trunk to a  file box

It has, furthermore, held a variety of purposes, from Boob Light Graveyard to Cat House.


And now we’ve had the nerve to convert it from your plain average trunk altogether. Dr. Phil will probably be all up in this nurtured identity crisis. Our story will be featured before the parents who buy their kids pot and after the estranged-sister-in-a-cult-that-eats-tree-bark intervention.

Lucky for you, the conversion process was simpler than a cult brainwashing and cost us only $.98 for a square dowel. That’s less than the price of Tums, which will be necessary after ingesting tree bark.

Converting a trunk to a file box: What you’ll need.

  • trunk
  • one 1/4”x36” wood dowel (maybe more than one depending on the size of your trunk)
  • skinny scrap wood
  • Gorilla Wood Glue
  • hideous and inefficient former storage system (optional)
  • husband who can operate a table saw (not optional)

Converting a trunk to a file box: What you’ll do.

  • First, the wood needs to be cut to size. I highly recommend doing the dishes in exchange for your husband completing this step for you. This exchange also guarantees that all parties come away with necessary limbs still attached and not hanging in a bloody mass from the table saw, a perk that my husband is smart enough to recognize. That, and he hates doing the dishes and if I lost my fingers he’d have to do the dishes for the rest of our lives. My approach was foolproof.
  • Second, use Gorilla Wood Glue to attach the scrap wood to the sides of the trunk. I used the file folder to determine placement.


  • The dowels were glued last. My recommendation here is that you let them cure before you go and hang your 89 pounds of mostly unnecessary files on them, causing them to sag prematurely. Nobody likes premature sagging. Just ask Joan Rivers.

U.S. comedian Joan Rivers arrives at the British Academy Television Awards, BAFTA,  in London, Sunday May 20, 2007. (AP Photo/ Max Nash)Source-ish

  • Next, kick your cat out of the trunk for the 18th time.


  • Add your folders.

convert a trunk to a file box

  • Console your cat when she learns she is no longer welcome in the trunk.


  • The end.

By the way, I am declaring war on cute and coordinated Pinterest photos that tell me my file folders should be chevron or polka-dotted or hand-painted with “You are my sunshine.” I don’t really care what the inside of my file box looks like and neither does my bank statement. My method is Spinterest: spin around in circles long enough and everything looks cute. Or you vomit. Which isn’t usually cute. But it temporarily takes your mind off of your non-cute file folders. Win.

Where do you keep your files? Is anything in your home experiencing an identify crisis? Do you think Joan Rivers’ face would move if someone poked it with some tree bark?


  1. Lol, funny! My files live in an actual filing cabinet. Safe, if boring. I think your redo is great. Love the color. I am feeling sorry for your kitty though. No more box to sit in...maybe your old filing box could fit that purpose? ;)

  2. Hahaha! Spinterest. Awesome. The insides of my filing cabinets are hideous, so are my filing cabinets. Oh well.

  3. That last picture kills me! Poor baby!

  4. OMG. I can't decide what the funniest part of this post is.
    I am going to go with boob light graveyard.
    Our flies are in two file cabinets. One is unsafely teetering on the other one in our basement. Approximately 2 of the 202 file folders contain documents we actually need to keep and the other 200 are junk.

  5. I am cracking up here - this is the funniest blog I have ever read!

    1. aww thank you! You're too sweet!

  6. As usual, you've turned the ordinary into something wonderful. Oh the trunk is cute too, but the post is hilarious. And no, I don't think her face would move.

  7. I LOVED this post. You are hilarious! I think the spinterest was my favourite part. That's a solid strategy. I'll have to give it a whirl (haha- a whirl). The box is really cute- great idea!

    1. haha I see what you did there.... ;)

  8. Anonymous5/24/2013

    Alas, my files are still in a cardboard box...

    I need to find a booblight graveyard to put them into.

    On another note, I swear that if I would have had you for my teacher I'd have failed your class on purpose just so I could stay in your classroom forever - you are a hoot!

    1. aww thanks! You're not the first blog reader to say something to that effect--and it's ironic because 'funny' is definitely not a word most of my students would use to describe me. It really comes out more in my writing. :)

  9. Anonymous5/24/2013

    Great !!

  10. Booblight graveyard - haha! Our method of filing is to set our important papers in a pile on top of the filing box, until the pile gets so big it falls over. Then just shred everything in sight.

  11. aww poor kitty :( also, I would like that wooden owl figure on your desk.

  12. Erin you are SO CLASSY!!! :-) Sometimes cutesy is too much for me too. I love your new file box!! So clever! I wish I could have seen a photo of each of that trunk's colors....

  13. Just found your blog through a comment you left on Vintage Revivals and I'm hooked! You are such a good writer and your projects so creative.

    1. aww thank you! You're too sweet!


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