126 comments on “How to Build Plumbing Pipe Shelves

  1. Great shelves. I especially like the trim on the top shelf. It really finishes it off. I’d love to hear more about your aging process. Also, how much did this project cost for the materials?

    I could spend days just looking at all the cool stuff you guys have in your house! Well done!

    • Thanks JT, I started to trim them all with a trim piece, but it hid too much of the pipe (So just the top) This wasn’t a cheap project…..I proll’y spend close to $250. The pipe adds up quickly…and I had some pipe pieces already. The boards were $25 bucks each.

      I promise there is more to come on that steel wool/vinegar process. Just wait.

      Glad you like all our “Treasures”….pretty much everything in our house has a story behind it.

  2. Wow, great job! You have the most important Gift of design. When you think you are done, add some more goodies to your shelves. Love this look!

    • Carolyn, I actually scaled back on the “goodies” for the pics……over time, more things just appear around the house. I don’t know how that happens (EG)

  3. Way cool!! Thanks for the extremely clear, well-photographed instructions. I know what tutorial I will use if I ever decide to build some!

  4. Your shelves look awesome, and I really like how you chose to use the space with books/decor and display items. I’ve seen a lot of tutorials on how to make these shelves…but I like yours the best.

    • Michelle, you could do this. Hardly and “real” construction….I even used the wood in the size it came in, no cutting at all. Now it was a slight hassle driving it home sticking out the back of my Jeep. 🙂

  5. Another project that is absolutely fabulous! I am jealous I don’t have your talent. I just look at your pictures all the time trying to figure out how to make my stuff look as terrific. I will just keep trying. Have a restful weekend.

  6. You guys are amazing! Love the shelves and the amount of stuff (crap) you have on them stores so much! Congratulations, you should write a book, or magazine, or something! Thanks for your posts, I love them!

  7. I’m not sure what I like more. The shelving OR the styling of the shelves. You really do have a way with display. Great job!

    • A www thanks Elizabeth! There’s still a pile of things in the garage that were edited out…….for now anyway. So glad that you like!

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  11. Did you do anything to darken the pipes? They look much darker than in the first photo where they are all just laid out. Love the finished piece!

    • Nope, I think it’s the lighting….I have spray painted the flanges before. But now they come in black. AND glad that you like it.

  12. Thank you so much for the response! I didn’t even know that they come in black. I will definitely look out for those!

  13. Love this project!!! Trying to do some similar shelves but having trouble finding pine shelves wider than 12 inches. Can you tell me where you found these? Thanks!!

    • Those are 12 inch boards, (11 3/4 anyway) guess I forgot to mention that in the post…the top is 2 boards pushed together…that’s why there are supports under it.

  14. We are building a table and the pipe we have has lettering on it. Did you have that, and if you did how did you remove it? I’m contemplating painting all the piping, but if there’s an easier way I’m game!

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  16. nife job on the shelves! Did you clean the pipe and clear coat it or paint it with something before assembly? I was at homedepot and this pipe and fittings are very oily and dirty when taken off the shelf.

    • Good question, Yepp sometimes they are a little greasy. I use an Orange hand soup that mechanics use to clean their hands. Can’t remember the brand name but they sell it at auto parts stores.

  17. Do you have a special place you buy the industrial pipe or do you buy it at Home Depot/Lowes? Just thought if you buy that much there might be cheaper places.

  18. Out of curiosity, the photo with the disassembled footing has a different sized connector near the wall flange than the photo of the assembled footing. It looks to be 4″ in the disassembled version. Is that the size that works for your 12″ boards?

    • Caught me! I started with a 4 inch connector, but it was just a little too far from the wall….so I switched it up with a 1 inch-er…..It worked much better. Can’t always retake pictures after all the work is done. Totally up to you though…use what looks best too you.

      • Ha! I actually got impatient and bought the 4″, but I agree. I went back and got the 2″. I bet the 1″ was even better. Looks great though. Thanks for the post!

    • Thomas! That sounds awesome, so glad that could inspire you. I’d love to see a pic! I’m currently writing a book of plumbing pipe projects……I think you’ll like it.

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    • Hi Summer, I used pipe sizes that are precut from Home Depot. If they don’t have the sizes you need, they will cut them for you for free.

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  24. My 12 yo son and I are going to make these shelves this summer — a project for him and crossing it off the wish list for me — thanks to your clear and inspiring tutorial! Could we skip the step of cutting the notches from the cleat, install it a bit lower and screw or nail the supports on to it? TX!

    • Of course you can! Or take the shelves all the way to the ceiling. Or even add angled pipes on top to anchor it to the wall. I just redid this project for my upcoming book…..but I’m sure you want to build yours before it get published.

      • hi james! we are in the mids of the project and have a few questions…

        we are having a devil of a time attaching the flanges to the wall with the other parts of the shelf supports attached, but having an equally hard time attaching the supports to the flange once it is attached to the wall (clearance + measuring really difficult)… how did you do this? with a drill, or by hand? any tips appreciated…

        do you have suggestions for drilling straight with the paddle bit? i am re-drilling with a 1-1/8″ bit today as for me, the 1″ bit didn’t make a big enough opening (straight or otherwise!)…


      • So sorry, I’m just now seeing this…you’re probably finished. Are you sure your screw bit is long enough? Like 3-4 inches long….Could make a difference. And yeah, it’s tough to drill straight down with the paddle bit, it takes some practice, Try clamping all the shelves together so the holes line up. a 1 inch bit is still pretty tight. I think I used a white rubber mallet to pound my shelves down on the pipe….or the pipe down through the hole. Either way. Hope this isn’t too late.

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  26. Did you paint the pipes or leave them raw? I have read a lot about rust concerns. Have you had any rust issues?

    • Hi Elijah, Unless your house if particularly humid there shouldn’t be any rust. Galvanized, the silver pipe is coated so it won’t rust. (it still does a little at the threading part) and is best outside or in a bathroom. The black pipe will rust a little too…..my log roller is 6 years old and still looks fine. A lot of people will spray paint the whole finished unit, (always paint after it’s completed….I’ve seen people spray pieces individually and this is wrong) , so that the fittings match the color of the pipe. Spray paint doesn’t really deter rust….it just covers it up.

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  30. Well I’m late to the party but I wanted to thank you for posting this project. I have looked at similar pipe shelves & instructions, but yours were the best. Specifically, your version has the t-fitting that the boards rest on AND a flange on the wall, whereas others just have a elbow/bent connector at the back for the board to rest on and zero support secured to the wall ( others only have the sports at the bottom and top flanges ). Your shelf looks very sturdy. We will be building our shelving unit down south and have to worry about humidity ( rust ), so thank you for pointing out that the galvanized is already pre coated.

      • Thank you, that is great to know as we will have a 10’x10′ wall to make a bookshelf and another wall for shelving and a TV etc. I will take pics for sure ( if I ever get around to it, I’m going to start a blog about building our house, in Trinidad, W. I. ) I will check out your Book for sure.

        Today ( after another day of Jury duty selection, a experience which I would not wish upon anyone ) I went to Home Depot to look at Pipes and fittings to cheer myself up and do some research. As I was looking at pipe, a older gentleman my dad’s age, saw me staring at the shelving and my phone, and he asked me if I was making a pipe shelf. Turns out, he has your book and is making a shelf!

        I have been reading your blog this evening from the beginning and I love your home and style and “collecitons” ( I have pineapples of all sort but monkeypod ones are my fav ) & think your Harley is adorable . Keep up the good work! P.S. If you still ever want a Hudson Bay blanket, check out hula popper.vintage on instagram. He is a friend of mine who deals in vintage clothing and blankets. Cheers

      • Glad you like our adventures in home ownership. That part where you said the guy a H Depot had my book is the coolest thing anyone’s ever told me…..

  31. The pipes really add beauty with your work. I am planning to make a shelves and I hope I can do the same thing as yours.Thanks for sharing!!

  32. Hi there – Love this. Trying out a similar design myself. What size screws did you use to secure the wall flanges? And how wide was your wall? Mine is about 11.5 feet and I’m thinking of just using 3 sets of pipes along the boards, instead of 4.

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  34. Just found this page, looks great! I’m planning on building one very soon. Just wanted to know if it will be sturdy enough for a 60″ tv, plus my stereo gear? being a plumber, this is perfect!

    • Hi Randy, Should be sturdy enough. I don’t have any electronics on mine…but there are plenty of books. If you’re a little hesitant…I’d attach as much as you can to the wall studs. ANd I’d LOVE to see how yours turn out…Send pictures. BTW, This is the most popular project in my book.

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  36. This is awesome. Thanks! Just so you know, I read the whole thing in the voice of Tommy Chong.

  37. Love these shelves. I want to build a set in my basement but attach it to the concrete wall. What size/length/type screw would you recommend? And why did you choose 3/4″ pipe diameter rather than 1/2″? Would you change anything to make the array taller than 43″? I’m thinking of 6′.

    • Hi Bill, you can make them any height you want….like tinker toys. The bigger the furniture, the bigger the pipe. I mean, it’s not like steel pipe will bend, but ya never know. Not sure about the screws, but they should be made for drilling into concrete. Not to plug…..but have you checked into my book? https://www.amazon.com/DIY-Industrial-Pipe-Furniture-Decor/dp/1612436064 I explain a lot about working with pipe, and the shelves project is explained in greater detail….I’d absolutely love to see what you build, send a picture! Seriously. And happy building.

  38. Love this shelving. Thanks for the instructional derail. What would recommend to attach the flanges to a concrete wall? Why did you opt for 3/4″ pipe rather than 1/2″? And what would change to raise the height to 6′? Thanks.

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  40. Am a little behind on reading the blog so have had a fun evening catching up. The pipe shelves are wonderful! And of course you all style your collections beautifully. Not sure I am ready to tackle a big job like that, but had fun daydreaming! Thanks for the inspiration. As usual!

  41. I am (finally!) ready to install my pipe shelves. The wall where the shelves will stand is concrete.
    What size and length screws do you recommend? Somone mentioned Topcon, 2 1/2″ long. What’s your advice?

  42. HI James: Fully inspired, I purchased your book and I’m ready to start! But mine will be about 8.5 feet high, with each level (6) about 100 linear inches, but in an L-shaped configuration around a corner. I’m purchasing 12″ nipples to put between the levels, so the shelves will be about 14″ apart.

    Using black pipe with a cherry stain on the shelves.

    Question: on the horizontal “arms”, I can’t find 1″ nipple. Is that also known as a “close” nipple? I found those on supplyhouse.

    Also, any advice on how to do the corner?

    • LORI!!!!!! OMGOD, I’m so sorry. I thought I responded to you a week ago. And you – an elite member of my book club – should be treated much better than that. I love the idea of corner shelves, sounds pretty cool. Make sure the brackets are as close to the corners as you can. There will be greater stress on the connection, and will need all the extras suppost they can get. I personally, would miter the 2 connecting shelves and biscuit them together, Biscuits are little wood discs that get glued inside the wood. Sounds complicated, but it’s not. If you’re looking for an easier way, you could use flat straps under the connection. Like an “L” bracket, but not bent. They come silver, but you could spray paint them to match the wood. 1″ nipples aren’t that rare, I think there’s a 1/2″ one too. the 1″ refers to the distance of the pipe that isn’t grooved to fit into the next pipe. “Close” nipples are entirely grooved. I’m pretty sure you could use any size nipple, as long as they’re all the same size. But check out a Home Depot and see what they have in stock. I’d love to see pics when you’re done. Please send some….

  43. Awesome doing this next week ! I’ve been looking for industrial modern shelves and nothing seemed right. Now here is the answer. I’m going to take them up to the coming though . Great article Tnx !

    • Glad that you’re inspired, Ron. Not to plug my book…but this project did inspire an entire book of pipe building..and I revisited these shelves. I think I did a better job of explaining them the second time….But trust me, use mine as a jumping off point and make your shelves fit your needs. Like all the way to the ceiling! OOHHHHH!!!! and I’d love to see pictures when your done too!!

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  45. Hi
    I love your shelves and I’m ordering parts to build a floor to ceiling version. I had one question in the picture where you lay out the pipes with the isizes needed there isn’t a size marked for the connector from the wall to the free shelf support . But in picture 1 it appears to be the same size as the 4” foot connecter but in the progress pictures it appears to me much shorter. Can you tell me the length on the wall flange connector thanks

    • Hi Ron, I started with a 4” nipple, but decided that I wanted my shelf just slightly closer to the wall……so I changed to a 1”nipple. Can’t believe you caught that. I promise , the directions in the book are much more detailed. Good luck with your shelves…

  46. This is great! I was looking for adequate shelving for my new beer cellar. I didn’t want to buy an industrial shelf as it wouldn’t fit the space. I’ll be doing a modification of this! Since my shelves will be holding heavy liquid I’ll most likely add a few more supports. LOOKS AWESOME!!!

  47. These are AWESOME!! Such a well done job!! And, this is EXACTLY what I’m looking for to place in a double width closet. But my favorite line that you wrote is, “…and then filled them with crap. Like so..” LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!! Are we related? I’ll be in touch if I get stuck! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Glad I can inspire, Patty. You know…..I did write a book all about building things with pipes. DIY Industrial Pipe Furniture and Decor…if you do get stuck. And I’m a certifiable “crap-aholic”

  48. First post of yours I have read. I will read them all. Thank you for taking the time to share this.

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    • Hi DF, If you need a little extra assistance… check out my book “DIY Pipe Furniture and Decor” on Amazon. And I’d LOVE to see pics of your finished shelves!!

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