This post addresses the ubiquitous problem of finding a file cabinet that allows you to get rid of hanging-file folders and use only manila folders. The short answer is to find a file cabinet containing the so-called "spring-loaded follower block" (or "follower block" for short).
So what is a follower block and why is it so difficult to find them?
Before hanging files, file cabinets stored records (such as folders) upright in place with the mysterious follower block. To account for the change in number or thickness of records, you squeezed the handle of the follower block to slide it forward or backward and released it to lock it in place.
Nearly all file cabinets manufactured before a certain date have these follower blocks, which is why it's a great idea to pay a visit to your local used office furniture store. With the advent of hanging-file folders, file cabinets evolved to adapt to them; as a consequence, follower blocks became an endangered species and were often replaced with variations that arenít so helpful for storing file folders upright (such as much-hated wire frame).
Here's a visual example of a follower block:
So how do you find file cabinets with follower blocks?
- Go to a used office furniture store, which tend to carry file cabinets of extremely high quality that have this follower block -- at a dramatically low price. In fact, many used office furniture stores have trouble selling these types of file cabinets simply because many of them don't have the capability to store hanging-file folders. In my case, I visited a local store that carried numerous two-drawer, four-drawer, and five-drawer models -- all with follower blocks, and all of very high quality. (I went with a two-drawer Steelcase that must have been made in the 70s but still works beautifully.)
- If the thought of buying a used file cabinet makes you shudder, the big box office supply stores still do carry file cabinets with follower blocks. At Staples, I saw a two-drawer Hon model for $169.00 with a follower block in it. I doubt itís as high quality as used models for the same or equivalent price, but it would do the trick.
- If money is no object, purchase new, high quality filing systems made by companies such as Steelcase. Some of their products still use follower blocks.
- ALWAYS check the specifications of the filing cabinet to make sure it has a follower block.
I hope this helps.