How to Build Simple Pipe Shelves with Reclaimed Wood

Posted by: on April 11th, 2013 | 19 Comments
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Simple pipe shelf displaying vintage items

 

Ethan Hagan, of the blog One Project Closer, is an expert on just about any aspect of home improvement and DIY projects. Here, he shows us how he created some simple wall-mounted shelving using cast iron pipe and fittings. Pipe shelving is a popular way to add storage space simply and relatively inexpensively, but Ethan’s pipe shelves have an extra stylish twist — they feature beautiful reclaimed wood. The repurposed wood is a perfect complement to the industrial-style pipe.

And as you’ll see, his shelving turned out to be perfect for displaying some treasured vintage items.  

I recently inherited a few items from my grandfather including some old hand tools, a small radio and a 48-star American flag. Needless to say, I was excited and decided to build a space to show them off. I’ve always liked the look of black pipe shelves. Not only are they functional, the pipe and some reclaimed wood add character to an otherwise boring shelf.

Simple Pipe Shelves: Pipe shelf with reclaimed wood displaying an American flag

Pipe shelves are great because they are completely customizable. You can set up as many shelves as you need, and they can be any size, shape or orientation. Plus, The Home Depot will cut and thread pipe for you so you don’t need any specialty tools.

In downtown Baltimore there is a nonprofit group called Second Chance. They sell cabinets, doors, appliances, rugs, window, and everything else. Think of it like a Habitat for Humanity ReStore except a lot bigger. I stopped by Second Chance and rummaged through their piles of reclaimed wood. Eventually, I found a nice looking, straight 2 x 8 to use for the shelf.

The plumbing pieces you'll need to build simple DIY pipe shelves

 

I also picked up some 1/2-inch black iron pipe and a few fittings (elbows, couplers, floor flanges) at my local Home Depot store. Black pipe costs about $1/foot, and most fittings cost between $1 and $4.

 

Anchors installed, ready for wall-mounded pipe shelves

Pipe fittings assembled to create simple DIY pipe shelves

 

After I mapped out the location of the shelf, I drilled holes in the drywall and inserted drywall anchors. If you’re planning on storing heavy items, pick up anchors rated for more weight (these Medium Duty E-Z Ancors, for instance) or attach the shelf to studs.

 

An electric drill creates holes in reclaimed in a DIY pipe shelves project

A pipe fitting attached to reclaimed wood in a DIY pipe shelves project

 

This is 1/2-inch (inside diameter) pipe so I used a 1-inch spade bit to drill holes through the board. The shelf is held in place by sandwiching the board between a coupler and an elbow.

 

Simple pipe shelves installed on a wall

 

With a lot of finagling, I got all the pipe attached, and I propped up the shelf with spare boards while I screwed it to the wall.

 

Simple pipe shelves display vintage items

 

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The shelf is strong, sturdy and looks great, and I can easily add-on to it if I need more storage. I feel like it’s a shelf worthy of the items it holds.

 

Simple pipe shelves with a vintage radio

 

Ethan Hagan is the primary editor at One Project Closer, where you’ll find expert how-to guides called Pro-Follows. Each Pro-Follow is the result of shadowing real contractors on actual job sites. In addition, OPC provides tool reviews and coupon information for DIY centers and practical tutorials on common home improvement projects, such as how to install hardwood flooring

Find plenty more small, affordable design and décor projects for home and garden in our DIY Décor series here on The Home Depot’s Apron blog.

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  1. Arthur Howle says:

    I like this idea. It gives shelving a vintage utilitarian look and the potential combinations of pipe and wood are numerous. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. [...] DIY shows and blogs the trend seemed to be using plumbing pipe and re-purposed wood.  I got the idea from Ethan Hagan on One Project [...]

  3. [...] simple pipe shelves with reclaimed wood (via ext) [...]

  4. Stef says:

    Are those really 1/2 inch pipes?

  5. [...] Greer and Janssen created DIY shelving from plumbing pipes and reclaimed wood. Home Depot has a good tutorial on Plumbing Pipe Shelving by Ethan Hagan of One Project [...]

  6. [...] Greer and Janssen created DIY shelving from plumbing pipes and reclaimed wood. Home Depot has a good tutorial on Plumbing Pipe Shelving by Ethan Hagan of One Project Closer. Reclaimed Goods [...]

  7. [...] Greer and Janssen created DIY shelving from plumbing pipes and reclaimed wood. Home Depot has a good tutorial on Plumbing Pipe Shelving by Ethan Hagan of One Project Closer. Reclaimed Goods [...]

  8. Jennifer B says:

    This is beautiful! I was just getting ready to assemble pipe fitting shelving & have the board rest on top, this is so much more beautiful & shows much more of the metal. Now to go by more pipe pieces

  9. [...] Often you can find or reclaim old pieces to make stunning shelving. Here are a few DIY tips for reclaimed pipe wood shelving for a boy’s room or full length shelving for big storage [...]

  10. That is great, what would be the best tools to sat hang swinging wood shelves from the ceiling? Everytime I drill into it my anchor comes out the wall

  11. Cynthia Miko says:

    I love this idea for the garage! It has such a great feel to it, especially if the garage is used as a workspace. We recommend for our customers to keep their garage organized, but usually with the generic plastic bins. Really like this idea of a more natural looking shelf!

  12. Wow! I love this! I’m in the process of turning our formal dining room into a library with a masculine look and this would be perfect! Thanks for the tutorial!

  13. Ann says:

    This is a wonderful and easy to follow tutorial. The end result is amazing!

  14. Courtenay says:

    I love this idea! I especially like how you ran the pipe right through the wood. I think you must have the most stylish garage on the block!

  15. Wow, this shelf is totally gorgeous! I love the reclaimed/vintage look, how fun!

  16. Vanessa says:

    I’m totally going to add this to my To Do list! LOVE IT!

  17. I love this look! The tutorial is very easy to follow. Thanks for such great info.

  18. Gwen says:

    That is awesome, Ethan! I love the industrial look of the pipes… I didn’t know HD would cut them for you. That’s awesome!

  19. This so great! Love the use of the pipes…what a great industrial feel!