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Unlocking the mysteries of Steelcase January 19, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Business, Friends, Random.

Steelcase file cabinetA friend of mine recently asked for my help in figuring out how to remove the drawers from a Steelcase filing cabinet. They needed to move it and because of its weight, they had to remove the drawers.

The first thing I thought to recommend was to try the “rocker” approach to file cabinet drawer removal. You know the drill… pull the drawer all the way out then pull up on the front so the wheels come out of the rails then pull it out more so the back wheels of the drawer can come out the same way. Only, it turned out the model of Steelcase filing cabinet my friend had didn’t have wheels. Instead, it had ball barrings.

Next, I suggested looking for a rocker lever on the bottom or back of the drawer. In a previous job we purchased all new furniture for a 60,000 square foot building and it was all made by Steelcase. So, I thought that it might be constructed in a similar way as that furniture. It turned out that upon very close inspection there was no lever or button or rocker arm or latch at the back, bottom, or side of the drawer or rails.

Finally, I suggested looking on the inside of the drawer, not knowing where else one could look for a release latch to allow the drawer to slide free of the rails. While I was saying that my friend proclaimed that they may have found the secret. It turned out they discovered a latch on side panels of each drawer near the front of the file cabinet drawer and releasing it allowed the drawer to be removed. Very clever, Steelcase!

With that bit of office furniture mystery solved and the first drawer removed a second problem arose. How do you get the second and subsequent drawers out if the filing cabinet has the safety feature that only one drawer can be open at a time. Well, my friend figured out that piece of the puzzle as well. They found a round white plastic wheel with spokes that when turned it released the locking mechanism allowing the remaining drawers to open so that they could also be removed. Very, very clever.

If you want a puzzle to solve, forget buying a Rubik’s cube, buy a Steelcase filing cabinet instead! It takes a very clever person to solve it.



1. Pedro Pinheiro - January 20, 2008

I love this kind of challenges! I’m the guy who everyone calls when they can’t find out how to do something…. 🙂

2. Moose - January 21, 2008

Yeah, but could you get them back in again?!?

3. Matsu - January 24, 2008

Moose – your question is a good one as it was a challenge to also figure out how to get the drawers back in. It was easier than getting them out, but it took some work. Now, the filing cabinet is back to its original state.

4. Anita Anderson - February 10, 2008

I’ve gotten the drawers out. Everyone has tried to put them back in with no succes. The metal sliders will go either on the file cabinet or the side of the drawers. It won’t do both.

5. Kim - March 17, 2010

We have a three drawer steelcase file cabinet that is attached to the underside of a workspace by screws from the inside of the top of the cabinet.

The drawers somehow became jammed and we cannot open any of them. It is not the lock as we have the key and it does not unlock it. The key turns almost freely so it feels like the lock mechanism is not attached to the key hole.

Any suggestions on how to get the drawers open without ruining the cabinet?


6. andy - May 5, 2017

I have spent the day struggling with a 4 drawer metal filing cabinet. I got all the drawers out eventually. I got them back in too – BUT none of them will now go fully in. They all remain about 0.5cm proud of the front to he cabinet. I too have a key – but it makes no difference. Can’t lock it anyway. I suspect it is something to do with the safety mechanism that allows only one draw to open at a time. Any ideas

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