What Is a Card File Cabinet?

A. Leverkuhn
A. Leverkuhn
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A card file cabinet is a unique version of a conventional filing cabinet that is made for index cards or other small paper items. These specific types of cabinets are often made in their own unique sizes and designs in order to accommodate dense storage for paper or cardboard contents. As a specialized category of file cabinets, these items are often less expensive than the full-sized cabinets for larger folders or other paperwork. While they are traditionally popular for libraries and other areas with a need for cataloging index cards, they may also be used in offices and homes for other applications.

One of the reasons that card file cabinets are relatively affordable is related to the most common materials that are used to make them. Heavy duty fiberboard is one option that manufacturers use to build these products. Simple cardboard may also be used, especially with edging or other smaller pieces that shore up the corners and structural frame of the cabinet. Other versions of these items are made with wood, steel, or other more durable materials, which may be either new or reconditioned.

In terms of hardware, a card file cabinet will often utilize small metal or plastic rectangular frames that attach to the fronts of each drawer. These items are made specifically for accommodating a small label, so that users can label each separate section of a card file cabinet according to what is inside. Some designs have specialized systems for alphabetized records.

Although card file cabinet models may not have to meet the same structural requirements as other kinds of similar products, durability is still a key issue for buyers. The materials of these free-standing cabinets may not hold up to extreme pressure, but as long as they are tightly bound, they often provide adequate storage for paper cards. The key is to select models that have a tight, controlled design, rather than inferior products that may easily come apart under pressure.

Because these products are light and sometimes easily assembled, they may be shipped unassembled. The same issues exist with unassembled card file cabinets, where they may not provide for simple assembly or ease of use. Advanced features like rubber feet or edges, or other high design accessories, can also add to the longevity and sophistication of one of these record keeping storage containers.

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