DIY paper organizer

I told you I had a plan for the mini chests that were leftover from my DIY rolling toolbox. I had a plethora of printer paper and envelopes and nowhere to store it all. The solution: stack three mini chests together, add molding, casters, and paint—and voilà a paper organizer. The casters were leftover from Ikea plant glides that I used to make my starburst mirror and nailhead clock. What can I say? I’m a very organized pack rat. I get it from my dad.

How to make a paper organizer

3 Ikea Fira mini chests
8 feet of 3/4-inch molding (found mine at Lowe’s)
8 feet of 1-1/4-inch molding (got mine on Freecycle)
wood glue
1/2-inch wire brads (small nails)
1-1/4-inch finish nails
2 pieces of 10-1/4- x 13-15/16-inch plywood (my plywood was leftover from my shoebox shelves project)
wood filler
primer (I used Kilz 2 latex primer)
paint (I used Benjamin Moore Aura in Steam [AF-15] in satin finish)
newspaper or drop cloth

sanding block and fine sandpaper
miter box and pull saw (or electric saw)
drill and 1/16 and 15/32 drill bits
nail set
3-inch foam paint brush
paint-can opener
tack cloth and latex gloves (optional)

Assemble the mini chests

1. Assemble the mini chests per the instructions. Do not insert the shelves yet.

Nail the chests together

2. Stack the mini chests on top of each other. Attach them together by hammering four wire brads (one near each corner) into the bottom shelf of the top two chests.

Attach the casters to the bottom

3. Take one of your pieces of plywood and drill a 15/32-inch hole one inch from each corner. Hammer in the plastic pieces that hold the caster pins, then insert the casters.

Attach the top and bottom

4. Turn your shelf unit upside down. Apply a bit of wood glue to one side of your plywood. Place the shelf unit on top of the glued side. Using four finish nails, attach it from the inside—one nail near each corner. Repeat for the bottom piece of plywood that already has casters attached.

Cut and attach molding

5. Cut all the pieces of molding. Make sure you miter the front corners at 45 degrees. I used the larger molding at the top and bottom and the smaller molding on the two middle shelves. I was able to cut the smaller pieces with a miter box and pull saw, but the larger pieces needed to be cut with an electric saw (thanks, Tony!). The inside measurement for the front pieces is 13-15/16 inches. The inside measurement for the side pieces is 10-1/4 inches.

Glue on the trim pieces

6. Apply a line of glue, then place the trim piece.

Add finish nails to the molding

7. Pre-drill three holes in each trim piece using your 1/16-inch drill bit (so the wood won’t split). Hammer the finish nails into the holes. Make sure two nails are connected to one of the chests, and one is connected to the other. Use a nail set to get the nails just below the surface of the wood.

All the molding is attached

8. Repeat for each piece of molding. Fill in the nail holes with wood filler.

Insert the shelves

9. Insert the shelves according to the instructions. Sand away all the rough edges and excessive wood filler.

Prime and paint the shelf unit

10. Paint one coat of primer. Let dry about 15 minutes. Lightly sand with fine sandpaper. Remove the dust with a tack cloth (use gloves if you wish). Then apply two coats of paint, letting dry after each coat. No need to paint all the way inside each shelf. Just paint as far back as you can reach. Because it’s on wheels, paint the back of the organizer as well.

Fill the shelves with stationery supplies

11. Fill the shelves with paper, envelopes, cards, or other stationery items. Place it near your desk within easy reach.