Introduction: How to Build a Workbench/Storage Shelf

Picture of How to Build a Workbench/Storage Shelf

We have been busy brainstorming ideas of how people can use Kee Klamp fittings to build a whole bunch of cool things for their homes. Tricia has started to come up with a whole line of items that can be used in the basement/garage. She has also been thinking about a whole bunch of kitchen ideas.. but those are coming later. In the process she came up with this cool shelf design that can be used just about anywhere in the house.

All said and done this project should cost you less than $200 and will provide you with a quality piece of furniture that you can break down and setup again and again!!

Step 1: The Plans

Picture of The Plans

Tricia made the plans for this is Google's Free SketchUp program. We modified the design slightly for our project. That's the great part about Kee Klamps, you can completely customize the project.

Step 2: The Parts and Tools

Picture of The Parts and Tools

Part of this project was an experiment. One of the things we've constantly been told is that the cost of the pipe often makes the project very expensive. Well, with this project we decide to see if we could cheapen it up a bit. We were successful! We found that top rail fence post that you can buy from Home Depot works just fine with our size 6 fittings.

Raw Materials (from Home Depot)

1 x 4x8 Sheet of Plywood.
3 x 10.5 foot pcs of top rail fence post (1-3/8")
10 x Screws (with washers)

Kee Klamp Pipe Fittings (from

4 x 20-6 Side Outlet Elbow 1"
8 x MH50-6 Swivel Member
4 x 61-6 Flange 1"
2 x 105-6 Sheeting Clips


1 x Allen Wrench (for Kee Klamp fittings)
1 x Tape Measure
1 x Pipe Cutter
1 x Latex grip glove (for holding pipe while cutting, very handy)

Step 3: Cut the Pipe

Picture of Cut the Pipe

There is flexibility in designing your shelf. We chose the sizes below because it allowed us to efficiently use a 4x8 sheet of plywood.

Here are the pipe lengths that we used
Qty | Lengths
4 | 39" (legs)
2 | 20-1/2" (side rungs)
2 | 44-1/2" (runners)

While cutting the pipe use a latex grip glove; it will make it much easier to hold. You might also have someone else hold the pipe for stability while cutting.

Step 4: Build the Bench/Shelf Top

Picture of Build the Bench/Shelf Top

Using the 2 runner pipes, the 2 side rung pipes, and the 20-6s assemble the bench/shelf top.

Step 5: Assemble and Install Legs

Picture of Assemble and Install Legs

Mark the shelf height on each leg. Again you can be selective about how you want to do this. For our shelf we simply divided the pipe into thirds and made our marks there.

Insert the leg into a 20-6 fitting that is a part of the top rectangle.

Slip-on the first MH50 onto your shelf mark and tighten the set screw.
Slip-on the second MH50 onto your second shelf mark and tighten the set screw.

Attach the 61-6 Flange the bottom of the leg and tighten the set screw.

Repeat this four times.

NOTE: your legs may initially be somewhat crooked. To rectify this tip the bench over on it's legs and adjust the how far some of the pipe is going into the fittings. You can do this by loosening and re-tightening the set screw.

Step 6: Cut and Install Shelves

Picture of Cut and Install Shelves

Cut the shelves to length.
We had Home Depot cut our 4x8 sheet into 4 pieces. We did the trimming ourselves with a circular saw. We took off about took off about 3-1/2" on the bottom shelves to make them fit.

NOTE ABOUT PICTURE: Yes we are a bunch of geeks who decided to where our cool Instructables T-shirt on the same day.. and no we didn't plan it.

Installing the Shelves
To install the shelves we simply placed the boards on the MH50s and screwed up through the whole with a screw (with a washer on it). If you want to make it easier (we did) you can tip the entire shelf on it's side and screw that way. Predrilling your holes will help the wood to keep from splitting.

Also helpful is to screw on the higher shelf before the lower (we learned this by experience).

**Make sure your screws are short enough that they don't poke through the top of your shelves.

Note that if you loosen the set screws of the MH50 you can move the shelf up and down.

Step 7: Install Top

Picture of Install Top

Finally place the top on the bench and attach with the 105-6 (one on each side). The 105-6 is a clip that uses tension to hold the top down. Again, use a screw small enough so it doesn't poke through the top.

Note: One cool thing we discovered after attaching the 105-6 to one side is that you can use these clips as hinges (see picture).

Step 8: Your Done!

Picture of Your Done!

That's it..

There are probably some other things you could do to spiff this thing up. Tricia has a design for adding doors to the front. You might also consider finishing the wood if you're going to use this in a living space.

Have fun with it and tell us about your experience!

The guys a Simplified Building Concepts (Sam and Chris are in the pictures)


wario235 (author)2011-04-01

I'm a fan of the design. I'll probably just do the pvc route though, just b/c I'm a poor college student. Shouldn't be too tough to sturdy it up, and if not, I'm not using it for anything too extreme or heavy anyway (a little hobby bench for when I'm NOT studying).

gossumx (author)2010-11-29

The only problem I could think of would be the limited stability it would have. PVC tends to bow pretty easily.

But what if you assembled it and then filled the pvc with concrete? It wouldn't take much concrete and could possibly be even stronger. But I'm not really the one to know.

lwatcdr (author)2006-08-12

BTW You can get the same fittings some times cheaper at McMasterCarr. Not only that but You can find Aluminum Tubing cheaper than McMasterCarr or at of all places Aircraft Spruce. I was thinking of building a desk using some Al tubing. I was going to try some bends to cut down on the expensive fittings. Yes I know that 2x4s would be cheaper but I want the ease of disassembly, low weight, and frankly for looks.

microdot (author)lwatcdr2010-03-18

There are other structural pipe systems.  I am planning a desk for my office and wanted to use Kee Klamp, but it is just too expensive.   I did some google-ing and found something similar at about half the price.  I thought I'd post it here in case someone else was looking at bring down the costs of a project like this.  The system is called Quick Klamp.  Here is the URL:;ft1_hardware_fasteners;ft1_quik_klamp_pipe_fittings_1.html

Bignerd100 (author)2007-05-01

This is a really cool idea regardless of price. I can't afford it, but it is cool anyway. One thing that would be really cool is that all of those pipes can act as conduit for wires. You could easily wire one of these creations up with lighting, AC or A/V cables. It would make for a very clean look.

You can definitely put wires down through the pipe, though you have to cut a small opening. Here's an example of one of the ways that a customer of our is doing what you suggested. You can check out his work at

wha (author)simplifiedbuilding2007-10-15

What do I need to cut this hole? Dremmel? thanks.

rabagley (author)wha2009-10-15

Drill press and a centering jig.  There's about a dozeninstructables on how to make a centering jig for a drill press and a fewmore for how to turn a regular drill into a drill press using 2x4's (orprobably Kee Klamps, too :)

thats really kool, my monitor is really low and does not swivel just the screen moves back and and forth, and it has mounts like that, i should look into that

theopowers (author)2008-02-14

Did you guys ever post your plan to put doors on this thing?

theopowers (author)2008-02-14

That's useful info, thanks!

octothorp (author)2006-09-25

Kee Klamps are really cool and have a lot of advantages over threading pipe and using plumbing fittings, but they're price prohibitive for the sorts of projects I'd like to use them for. Recently I did some expirimenting in my shop regarding making my own kee-klamp style clamps for 1/2" pipe. For that size, pretty much any fittings you get in a plumbing store can be converted; just pop it on the drill press, give it the in-out with a 7/8" bit, then punch, drill, and tap cross-holes for some screws (I use capscrews from Lee Valley). I'd say my total cost is just over a dollar (Canadian, probably cheaper in other places) for a single T fitting, and once you've done your jigs, they take about five minutes each. If there's interest, I can make an instructable about it.

theopowers (author)octothorp2008-02-14

I would be interested in that instructable! I need to buy a drill press eventually anyway. Or maybe there's an instructable for one...

homebznez_pal (author)2007-07-18

this sure is a cool looking stuff here. i wonder if those stands heavy or not, would definitely be better if the whole thing is movable so as for inhouse design considerations. board and batten

simplifiedbuilding (author)2006-08-12

I want to be real clear and say that if you're looking to build your project in the ceapest way possible then DO NOT use Kee Klamp fittings. Use wood or something like that. However, if you like the look of th metal frame and you don't know how to weld or don't want to thead your pipe first, by all means check them out. As to the notion that we are posting this out of a sense of altruism; that is certainly not the case, we do hope that people will look at this and say "hey that's cool and I'd like to build that". And yes, I think we do hope that they might even get their fittings from us. However we are not working from the prospective of scarcity that says we have to protect our idea. May you find a Kee Klamp cheaper on another site or store? YES, and if you do, by all means, buy it there if that is your primary interest. Another possible misunderstanding is the advantage of using (and paying more for) a Kee Klamp over another means of connection. Here are a couple: Quick: this project went together in under an hour. Ease: putting these fittings together is a snap and requires no special skills set. Modularity: this thing can be setup, broken down, and easily modified. I broke it down in about 5 min. to store it in my basement. When I set it up again it will take about 5 min. Aesthetic: Some people just like the way these things look. It gives a cool industrial/modern feel to your project. Now these factors don't necessarily appeal to people who are looking for a challenge, looking to save money or looking for something permanent that will never move. We understand that. Thanks for reading.. and if you never build this bench we hope that it aleast inspires you to do something even better. Enjoy!

yea, it's really cool looking, and I'd love to be able to afford to fool with this stuff, however it's out of my price range. Still, I might consider Kee Klamps if I had a deadline and/or an expense account.

I think the feedback here is telling you that if you can get a slightly different product to market cheaper, you might have a wider market. I did check prices at (search for “Kee Klamp”), and they are a bit better. McMaster Carr is the king of obscure stuff, but I hate the way they don't price shipping upfront. I called customer service, and was told you can call in the order to get a shipping price. If there's a location nearby, you might even do a “will call”.

There's got to be a way of bringing these to market cheaper, if you look, the ones made of galvanized iron cost about the same as the ones made of aluminum. The cost of the aluminum as a raw material must be significantly higher. OTOH, it's entirely possible that the price of these pieces is mostly determined by the cost of liability insurance.

If there's a demand for theses connectors, but at a lower price, and you can't or won't fill that demand, there's always cheap overseas knockoffs. The only counters you have are patents (perhaps expires or circumvented), getting government to protect your business model by tariffs and legislation, and the ever popular FUD (“would you RISK the LIVES of your loved ones on cheap Chinese knockoffs!?!?!?!”)

Here's the story on pricing. These things are made in England so the margins on them are not that large. You're right in saying that you can find knockoffs for cheaper, but I find that generally speaking they don't have the same aesthetic quality. One way that we might be able to offer them cheaper is if we purchased them in much larger quantities, but seeing as we are a Internet start up with zero capital invested we are forced to go the route were on now (which we don't think is entirely without merit). There's something to be said for starting a business with zero debt. The aluminum are the same cost as the galvanized because they have significantly less material in them. Keep in mind some of the steel components began to get made almost a 100 years ago, before there was a lot of the material reducing engineering concepts that we have today. I'd be open to hear your ideas about how we might be able to do this cheaper. We definitely don't have everything figured out, maybe you've got a piece of the puzzle. We're always interested in helping people innovate something new with these pieces.. if you've got a good idea, let's talk and maybe we can work out a discount. Generally speaking Kee Klamps are an industrial product (with an industrial price to match). They are used prominently in the construction of things like safety and guardrails (about to post a project about building a simple handrail). We're trying to help usher them into the DIY market, but as you've mentioned, cost seems to be a prominent hindrance at this point. We'll keep working the problem! Thanks again!

And I'm glad you are taking what I say as constructive criticism. Sometimes, I may come off as a bit harsh, but I'm speaking from the heart. The ideas here are cool, it's like a big adult erector set.

We'd say "Tinker Toys for Big Boys" but we'd probably be violating copyright and girls would get mad too!

Plus "Industrial Erector Set" was already taken by 80208020...

hey there, like the KEE klamp thing. But its way to expensive for me to get here in kuala lumpur. You have any other suggestions on material i can use thats inexpensive and just as cool looking. Being a person who is into designs I'd like to look for other sturdy options yet gives my studio a cool effect. thanks a bunch.

Hi there, Yes, that's understandable, one suggestion would be to use regular threaded fittings that you can get at a store like home depot. These are much cheaper, but you have to use pipe and then you must thread the ends of the pipe. Usually the stores where you can buy these things have machines that can do the threading (at least around here). If you do the project, send us a picture and let us know how it went. Thanks!

edless74 (author)2007-06-13

As people have found Keeklamps are expensive even in the UK, i wouldnt say their qaulity warrents the high prices either. I kitted out my whole garage shelving units out of a brand called Interclamp, far better priced than the quote I had off of my local steel stockholder for Keeklamps. Give em a try ed

theRIAA (author)2006-08-11

why are you making these things the most expensive way you can??? the whole idea of building something yourself is so that you can build it cheaper and better than something you would pay for. wile the frame of this is made out of very sturdy pipes, the shelves are just plywood, and they arnt attatched very studily either. if you lost the expenisive pipes, you would have enough money left over to use 4x4s as legs and reinvorce the shelves with either more layers of plywood, or 2x6+somethings on the bottom of the plywood. for $200 you could buy 5 tables that were just as strong from ikea. hell, i made my computer table for $300 (its really 2 tables 8ft long joined together and one is bolted to the wall) and i couldent destoy it with a sledge hammer if i wanted to. the legs are 4x4, the table is reinfored with 2x6s picnic table style and the whole thing is covered in whiteboard material, painted with black garage floor paint. stop using expenisive materials and get practical!

spinach_dip (author)theRIAA2006-08-12

Tubing and plywood I can scrounge, however it's over 100 bucks alone for the specialized fittings, and that's before shipping. I built a same size table out of angle iron and plywood. The angle iron came from discarded bed frames. Just look around apartment buildings and look for bed frames near the dumpster, there's always someone who is sick of the cheapy frames that seems to squeak and slide around when you do those aerobic exercises, the solution is to throw the mattress on the floor and throw the bed frame out. The stuff is incredibly hard to hacksaw. I use a cutoff wheel for my angle grinder, but you can use a pneumatic cutoff tool too. A hacksaw will take forever and wear out several top quality blades. Nowadays I buzz things like this together with my Lincoln 135 MIG welder, but back then it was nuts and bolts. Clamp together, center punch, and use good quality drill bits and a bit of thread cutting oil. I usually bought the bolts and nuts because it was easier than going through all those coffee cans. Total cost? $20-30 for fasteners and consumable cutoff wheels, everything else was scrounged. I even used dumpster gleaned paint.

scrounger (author)spinach_dip2007-02-10

You can easily cut angle iron bedframes by heating the area where you want to cut with a propane torch. It doesn't take very long to get the temper out of the iron.

spinach_dip (author)spinach_dip2006-08-12

discarded bed frames to me are like worn out inner tubes for Tim, I make everything out of them.

AF-Geek (author)theRIAA2006-08-12

Posted by: simplifiedbuilding
Parts available from:

Does that answer your question? ;-)

Spoonman (author)theRIAA2006-08-11

Perhaps he wanted to spend the extra money to have something that's a little different. It's a cool table.

critterjones (author)2006-08-13

I work in one of the top two hardware stores in the u.s. these pipe parts can be purchased in our plumbing dept. for 50. bucks

rexcarrs (author)2006-08-13


Googlypuffs (author)2006-08-13

this looks awesome! now i can get this and a pipe dream bed!

Simmons (author)2006-08-13

Why not use PVC pipe, cheap and light weight

lwatcdr (author)Simmons2006-08-13

PVC is cheap and easy to work with. It also can be painted but it wouldn't be as light or as strong as Aluminum. I have seen some desks made from PVC and a door blank that works pretty well. Could even have a nice Blueman group feel to it.

Kactapuss (author)2006-08-13

wow, did you read what simplifedbuilding JUST wrote?

antarchy (author)2006-08-12

What the hell riaa you seem genuinely angry that they aren't doing it the way you would don't be a dick just say this is cool but it could be done cheaper like this. Damn take a deep breath and ask yourself or a therapist why you are getting so mad at someone you have never met nor even spoke to for offering an idea.

About This Instructable




Bio: I own a online business that sells industrial pipe fittings (Kee Klamp), PVC (pipe and fittings), as well as unique projects made with these products.
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