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Thread: Over size flat files?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    Over size flat files?

    Does anyone know of flat file storage cabinets that can hold 36 x 52" prints and doesn't cost $8000? I've done a little research and they seem to jump from $2500 for a 53" outer dimension unit to $8600 for the next size up which is 74".

    I'd prefer metal as they don't out gas. But I am guessing it would be cheaper to have custom files made.....

  2. #2

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    Re: Over size flat files?

    The best deals I've seen are at used office furniture places. You'll have to hunt around. They're always expensive.

    Peter Gomena

  3. #3

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    Re: Over size flat files?

    look on the Rochester craigslist under "photo&video". Maybe that one will work.

  4. #4
    ROL's Avatar
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    Re: Over size flat files?

    I bought one new many years ago, then picked up 2 more at a downtown office move. The problem I found, several years ago, with used office supply is that they know what the files are worth and will try to get near retail on them, even when they are rusted or in otherwise poor condition. I was even nipped by a chained dog (didn't see him) at one of these places and then was threatened by the personnel. Needless to say, I don't recommend these places.

    A better option might be to search for architectural firms, city planners, and such that are moving or going out of business, in your area. Put the word out. In my experience, you are much more likely to find well maintained files, at a decent price, anyway. Many of these firms have downsized and computerized their files, and consider large flat files to be a space wasting nuisance.

    Flat files really are the only practical way, I've found, to store large prints. But I wouldn't be so quick to discount wood, if you encounter nice ones. Unless you're archiving for a museum, I would doubt residual outgassing to be of much consequence. And, of course much more beautiful.

  5. #5
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Over size flat files?

    I simply traded a print to a high-end cabinet shop for one. I could make them in my
    own shop, but it takes quite a bit of time. They're fairly common in architectural salvage yards if you are lucky enough to find the right size without a bunch of rust or
    contaminants. Some of the newer metal ones are a bit flimsy for heavy stacked prints
    on ragboard.

  6. #6

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    Re: Over size flat files?

    It's been a few years since I've done this kind of work and I am not up on the latest technology. If you go the custom made wood route a low VOC water-based catalyzed varnish would I think substantially reduce the outgassing problem. Make sure they completely seal all the cut edges of any plywood used even if they are hidden in grooves or anywhere else. Plywood is loaded with volatile solvents in all the glue that is used in its manufacture. I would still let the new cabinets sit open and unused for at least a month.

  7. #7
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Over size flat files?

    I once had to do a HABS documentation on a BIA building that was being torn down. One floor was full of flat files in great shape-maybe 20. I asked what was going to happen to them and they said they would be demolished with the building. I asked if I could have them and they said yes. I recruited a number of art friends (these things weigh a ton) and we took them all. I kept two-still in use today.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 70:
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    Re: Over size flat files?

    You could always do hanging job jackets like printers and ad agencies used prior to digital. Everything hung vertically like a clothes closet. Either use clips on a raw edge or have large envelopes made from archival paper. This would have the advantage of never pressing anything against the print.

  9. #9

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    Re: Over size flat files?

    Check out http://www.fridfurniture.com/, they do quality custom work.

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Over size flat files?

    I certainly agree with the outgassing etc warning on new wooden materials. You can
    get formaldehyde-free finish plywoods, including sheets with clear inert factory coatings, but they don't assemble all that great. Usually a slip of true shellac sanding sealer will hold in most of the nasties, followed by waterborne high quality varnish. Avoid anything like particle board or OSB like the plague (lots of sulphur as well as formaldehyde). Metal cabinets typcially were painted with baked enamels or expoxies, but beware of anything that has been aerosol painted since. You can generally tell by the smell, or if the paint will dissolve using a little acetone. The older the flat files
    the better they seem to have been built.

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