A file cabinet is a piece of furniture used to store both business and personal files. Most often the files in these cabinets are placed in sturdy folders, and sometimes arranged in alphabetical order. These folders are typically hung on metal frames, called file cabinet racks, that fit inside the drawers. The racks support small tabs that are built into the folders on each side.
There are two different types of filing cabinets commonly in use, both of which use file cabinet racks to hold the documents. One type has deep drawers that are slightly wider than the documents they are intended to hold. Documents are stored one behind the other from the front of the drawer to the back. The other type has wide, dresser-like drawers that are slightly deeper than the documents they will hold. In these, documents are usually stored from left to right.
File cabinet racks are placed into the drawers to hold the files. The racks allow folders to be easily lifted out, rearranged if necessary, and to be moved out of the way to allow for new files to be placed between existing folders. Since most filing systems are constantly changing as new customers are added or old accounts are deleted, this arrangement makes filing easy to manage.
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The racks have supporting legs that make them nearly the same height as the drawers. The legs bolt to long side pieces that are the parts of the rectangular frame that holds the file folders. File cabinet racks are made to suit the various types of drawers and normally slip easily into a filing drawer once they are assembled. Racks are usually purchased in flat packages that contain all the necessary parts for the user to put them together to create three-dimensional frameworks to support the files.
When choosing a filing cabinet, one of the first things buyers look for is the general appearance. Cabinets come in either functional or furniture types, though each of these styles offers a wide range of looks. Furniture-style filing cabinets are typically heavy wooden pieces made in various colors and styles to blend in with office décor in places such as legal and medical offices. They are sometimes made to look like end tables or other pieces of furniture to make their functionality less obvious.
Less decorative filing cabinets are typically plain metal, usually a single color, and no attempt is made to hide what they are. The drawers have metal handles on the front with which to pull them out. Both styles are often made with locks in order to secure the documents within. Each style of filing cabinet still requires file cabinet racks on the inside to support the folders.