Magazine Archiving

What to do with all those magazines..

Digital media is nice and easy to store, but in a hobby like this, there's just something about the tactile feel of thumbing through print media. I purchased a magazine collection spanning about 20 years - the bulk of the time I spent on being an adult - working and raising a family. So - now what to do with 6 milk-crates worth of magazines?

The typical magazine case puts the weight on the bottom edge of the magazine, causing them to curl. The magazine binders that put a steel wire down the center support the magazine to minimize (but not eliminate) curling, but there are two issues. One is that they are expensive ($24 and up for a 12-issue version) and that the steel wires tend to rust in the basement where most of us have our railroads. 

My solution eliminates the rust issue, the curling issue, and is pretty cost-effective. I went to the nearby used office furniture store and found a bunch of two-drawer under desk filing cabinets. These are shorter than a typical standard 2-drawer cabined and designed to slide under and support a desk. As the top is open, they are less expensive than the cabinets that are fully enclosed - I got 4 cabinets for $30 each. Placing them side-by-side, I topped them with a piece of 3/4" plywood with a length of trim glued to the front edge. This fit easily below a section of layout and provided plenty of storage space in the 8 drawers. The trim piece was 1" and created a 1/4" lip, which would keep items placed on the shelf from rolling off.

The last step was storing the magazines, and for this, I purchased a bulk set of 100 hanging file folders - 4 boxes of 25 folders. Using a carving knife from the Dollar Store, I went about slitting the file folders along the fold. (cutting paper quickly dulls the edge, so I used a cheap knife and sharpened it a few times.) This resulted in 200 "hangers" for magazines. Simply open the magazine to the center, insert the hanger, and hang it in the drawer. Each year uses 13 hangers - twelve for the magazines and one to hold the plastic tab with the year inserted in it. Depending on the thickness of the magazine, I can hold 4-7 years worth of magazines in each drawer. Even at the lower capacity, the 4 cabinets provide 32-years worth of storage.

Right now, the cabinets are under plastic to protect them from the construction of the layout above them - once that's done, I'll return with some photos.


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