American Journal of Mechanical Engineering
ISSN (Print): 2328-4102 ISSN (Online): 2328-4110 Website: Editor-in-chief: Kambiz Ebrahimi, Dr. SRINIVASA VENKATESHAPPA CHIKKOL
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Mechanical Engineering. 2020, 8(1), 26-39
DOI: 10.12691/ajme-8-1-4
Open AccessArticle

Overturning File Cabinet

Ralph L. Barnett1,

1Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois Chairman, Triodyne Inc., 450 Skokie Blvd., Ste. 604, Northbrook, Illinois

Pub. Date: May 27, 2020

Cite this paper:
Ralph L. Barnett. Overturning File Cabinet. American Journal of Mechanical Engineering. 2020; 8(1):26-39. doi: 10.12691/ajme-8-1-4


It is deceiving that an otherwise super-stable file cabinet can become critically unstable when it is unloaded or lightly loaded. This may expose office workers to the specter of a 200 lb. file cabinet striking the floor at 13 mph. File cabinet design is guided by standards that do not reflect “worst case scenarios,” do not specify realistic safety loads, do not include snagging forces, and do not account for the effects of carpeting that may lower the tip resistance by 40%. This paper introduces three well known anti-tip concepts that radically improve the stability of file cabinets; elastic footprint extender, passively deployed outriggers, and rollers that trade off rotation for translation. These traditional concepts are added to the current arsenal of safety tip-over devices that include wall and floor bolting, ganging, under-mounting, counter-weighting, and single drawer deployment interlocks. The stability principles discussed are also applicable to such things as furniture, appliances, and tool cabinets.

stability overturn tip tip over upset topple turn over

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  File Cabinet Elastic Footprint Extender, US Patent Application No. 14/480,005, Filed September 8, 2014.
[2]  Outrigger Stabilizer, US Patent No. US 9,532,650 B2, January 3, 2017.
[3]  Anti-Tip Roller, US Patent No. US 9,717,338 B2, August 1, 2017.
[4]  “American National Standard for Office Furniture, Storage Units - Tests,” ANSI/BIFMA X5.9-2004, American National Standards Institute, November 17, 2004.
[5]  J. Paul Frantz, Timothy P. Rhoades, Stephen L. Young and Jean A. Schiller, “Assessing the Effects of Adding Message to Warning Labels,” Applied Safety & Ergonomics, Proceedings of the IEA 2000/HFES 2000 Congress.
[6]  “Strength Data for Design Safety, Phase 2,” Research commissioned by Consumer Affairs Division, Depart of Trade and Industry, June 2002.
[7]  “Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces,” ASTM F1637-07.
[8]  “Life Safety Code Handbook, Eighth Edition,” NFPA, 2002.
[9]  “Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities,” ICC/ANSI A117.1-1998.
[10]  “ADA Standards for Accessible Design,” 28 CFR Part 36, July 1, 1994.