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How to build plumbing pipe shelves

In recent years, piping structures have made quite a name for themselves in the world of interior design and are now being used in all kinds of settings.

Not only does it look great, but pipe shelving can be an incredibly sturdy solution for holding all your possessions. Perfect for use in kitchens, cupboards, living spaces and as a bookcase, you can put old piping to good use with this DIY guide to building plumbing pipe shelves.

Design and size

Before getting stuck into the manual work, you need to decide on the kind of design you want for your plumbing pipe shelves. How do you want the shelves to look? Where do you want them to go? Ensuring you take the right measurements of the space you are putting your piping shelves in is crucial.

You might want to draw out a plan of your designated space including all the measurements and how your shelves are going to fit into it. Doing a drawing before you buy any materials is especially important so you know how much piping and shelf material you will need.

The shopping list

After your planning is done, it’s time to get the supplies! This will include the piping itself and the wooden shelves that you will use with the pipe structure. You don’t have to use wooden shelves, but in this instance, that’s what we’re using.

A basic list of supplies for building plumbing pipe shelves:

  • – A drill with a 1 1/2″ spade bit
  • – A table saw
  • – Screws
  • – Painter’s tape
  • – Minwax wood finish
  • – A rag for applying stain
  • – 1/2″ diameter black iron pipes

For one shelf (which can be used as a template to upsize accordingly)

  • Pine board, 2″ x 12″ x 6′, cut to fit the space
  • 4 x 3/4″ black flanges
  • 2 x 3/4″ black elbows
  • 4 x 3/4″ 6″ black nipples
  • Pipe clamps – x2 per board

Where can I buy piping for shelves from?

Local supply stores will sell a variety of plumbing piping that you will be able to use for your shelves. You should find the relevant fittings here, too. You can also look online for piping, elbows, tees, flanges and screws for your project.

Building your plumbing pipe shelves

Each person’s design will differ, so it’s okay to alter this guide to fit your space and ideas. The above supplies are for one wall supported shelf, but if you wanted a column of wall shelves stacked on top of each other, you can multiply the amounts to suit your requirements.

Step 1

Cut your shelf/shelving to the right size using a table saw. Sand and finish the wood once you are completely sure it’s the right size. You can use grit sandpaper and acrylic or danish oil to do this.

Step 2

Using your 1 1/2″ spade bit, drill two holes into either side of the wooden board. This is where the iron piping will go through, so make sure the holes are big enough for this and that they’re drilled in an appropriate place. Ideally towards the front of the board, as the back will be supported by the flanges.

Step 3

Stain your wood shelves. This is where you will put your own touch on your shelves to make them a colour that suits your decor. You may want a darker stain for a contemporary rustic look or go for a white colour to brighten up your home.

Step 4

Now you can start assembling your plumbing pipe shelving. Most standard piping structures will have a long pipe, a second shorter pipe, a tee and an elbow. The shorter pipe will attach to the flange off the wall and the longer pipe will sit vertically to hold the shelf up.

Step 5

Screw the flanges to the wall. Ensure you have a measuring tape or a spirit level that will enable you to check everything is in line. You may want to use a pencil to mark the alignment. Just make sure you are accurate as you don’t want wonky shelves!

Step 6

Attach your pipe structure to the flanges on the wall. Make sure they are attached firmly and will be able to bear weight.

Step 7

Use your pipe hangers to attach the pine board to the iron piping securely.

Simple shelves to transform your space

These easy-to-build shelves are great because you can customise them to reflect the style you want. They are minimalistic and are sturdy enough to hold heavy items such as books, televisions and kitchenware. When building plumbing pipe shelves, make sure you have at least one other person with you for extra support with some of the fiddly bits!