What Is a Flat File Cabinet?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2019
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A flat file cabinet is a storage device that is designed to provide simple and efficient space for organizing hard copy documents that will not fit into a standard filing cabinet without folding and creasing the documents. This type of filing cabinet is used in a number of business settings, including home offices. Professionals such as architects, artists, and contractors often make use of a flat file cabinet to keep up with important documents related to specific projects.

Available in several different sizes, the basic configuration of a flat file cabinet includes a series of thin drawers with a wide, deep surface inside of each drawer. A series of clips are normally found around the edges of the interior areas of each drawer, making it easy to lay the oversized document flat into the space and secure it into position. By using the clips to secure the document, any curling along the edges of the paper is kept to a minimum, a factor that can also help to reduce the chances of rips or tears when extracting the document from a drawer.


The drawers on a flat file cabinet are usually equipped with simple handles. As with any type of file cabinet, there is usually a small slot on the front or each drawer that can hold a label describing the range of contents inside. The drawers are mounted on rollers that make it easy to open each one to full capacity and even extract them from the cabinet if necessary. In terms of materials, the cabinet may be constructed of wood, metal, or a combination of the two. For security purposes, it is possible to purchase cabinets of this type that are equipped with some sort of lock.

A number of oversized documents can be kept in a flat file cabinet. Architects will often use this type of storage device for sketches related to upcoming projects, as well as designs that are in process. Contractors will often use cabinets of this type for the storage of blueprints. An artist can use a flat file cabinet to protect paintings and prints from exposure and damage. Even individuals who collect old movie or concert posters will find that a flat file cabinet can be helpful in keeping the collection organized and aid in protecting the posters from exposure that hastens the aging process of delicate documents.



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