Introduction: Kee Klamp Shelving

Picture of Kee Klamp Shelving

After moving to a new apartment in a Georgian house, we needed some bigger than normal shelving units to be the right scale for the higher ceilings. I've always loved the old school retro/warehouse look of the Ralph Lauren shops, so after a bit of Googling I found an awesome company who have actually made units for them ( If I was in the states I would have gladly bought some, but not wanting to ship them over to London it was time to get a pen, a post-it and a cup of coffee....

Step 1: The Design

Picture of The Design

My original idea was to simply copy the shelves I'd seen, so I started looking for scaffolding poles and a way to cut them. This lead me to Kee Klamp (, an awesome system of poles and clamps  - or Klamps :) - that you can literally build anything with as long as you have an Allen Key.

The original design I'd seen had each shelf supporting the next by using the flange bases ( The only problem with this was that I'd need to do a lot of pole cutting and the height between the shelves would be forever fixed. If I changed the design so that the poles were at the edges of the shelves rather then between them, I could keep the poles as one long length and use the side mounting clamps ( at whatever height the shelves needed to be. I also saw that double clamps were available (, so by rejigging the design I could make one long shelving unit rather than three separate ones and share the mountings and pole between them.

Step 2: Getting Wood

Picture of Getting Wood

With the design complete it was time to go shopping! After a trip to a local wood merchant ( and a delivery from Key Systems, I had a hallway full of Kee Klamp scaffolding poles and wood (already cut to size by the timber yard). I wanted the shelves to have that used industrial retro look (not battered but definitely not clean cut), so I only wanted to sand down the edges of each piece of timber to remove any rough edges whilst still leaving the odd scuff and saw mark. This took a fair bit of time and a fair bit of sandpaper - even with an electric sander! If you are planning on doing this make sure you have a couple of packs!

Step 3: Making the Outer Units

Picture of Making the Outer Units

To make good, deep shelves, 2 lengths of timber were screwed together using joist brackets. I used three brackets spaced out along the length of each shelf and they were very securely held together.

(Apologies for the lack of pictures for this next step but I will try and explain as best I can how I then fitted everything together.)

The poles were laid down on the floor and then the side mounting brackets slid along each of the poles so that they could be positioned and tightened in the right place (single brackets for where there would only be a single shelf and double for where they would also support the middle shelves). The bottom and top shelves were then drilled and bolted (using coach bolts and penny washers) to two of the poles that would support them (the ones which would be the back pair). By doing this, I knew that the poles would be flush to the shelves. The whole thing was then flipped over so that the front pair of poles could then be fitted in the same way. The rest of the shelves could then be fitted, again without having to support any of the weight as everything was resting on the floor. The base flanges were fitted to the poles and the unit then stood upright. The whole process was then repeated for the second outer unit.

Step 4: Fixing Together

Picture of Fixing Together

Once the two outer units were upright, the additional shelves could then be bolted on to the other side of the dual clamps, making the middle unit and holding the whole structure together at the same time....

Step 5: Voila!

Picture of Voila!

And voila! Your retro, industrial shelves are done.

Thank you for reading my Instructable. If you liked it, I'd be most grateful if you could vote for it in the Design Competition: - Thank you :)


boggis (author)2016-01-04

Looked at the Retro site.... Jeebus, they're expensive: "Starting at $3,795 for 36″ wide shelf".

TomT5 (author)2015-02-19

Hi, what thickness pipe did you use? Thanks

duncanwilkinson (author)TomT52015-03-31

Hi Tom,

I used 34mm (33.7 to be precise) as I didn't want it to look too heavy.

Its more than strong enough so you might even be able to use the next size down too depending on what you're making.

Good luck with yours and be sure to post a link when you've done it!


andyrak (author)2012-11-05

Awesome design. One thing that i thought might help is for the brackets/bolts which hold the boards in place.

Perhaps a strip of angle iron going from front to back on either side resting on the brackets which hold the boards. Two bolt holes drilled on each bracket (front and back corner) lining up with the hole for the front and back bolt. The boards then rest on the angle iron for the shelf's full depth (both boards) for great support.

The nice thing is, depending on the length of the sides it may not be visible at all, and if it is thicker than the lumber it will show a nice metal side when viewed from other angles.

Attached is a simplified front view of what I was thinking.

Love this site!

andyrak (author)andyrak2012-11-05

Sorry had problems attaching this to my earlier post.

djsc (author)andyrak2013-03-31

I know this is from a while ago, but I only just saw it: i would consider a copy of the muji pole shelving system where there is one centrally placed pole, rather than a front-and-back pair- the scaffold poles are easily strong enough, this detail then gives us a way of transferring load from the shelf to the single pole.

duncanwilkinson (author)andyrak2012-11-05

Hey again andyrak - another very cool mod which I think I might have to add :)

I had looked at using scaffolding boards as I love the look of the metal strip banding around the edges, but this would give me a similar look and extra support like you say. Thank you for taking the time with the pic too - This is exactly why I love this site!

Ninzerbean (author)andyrak2012-11-05

To help what? What would this do or add that need to be done? I want to make some shelves so I really want to know what you mean.

andyrak (author)Ninzerbean2012-11-05

The reason for this is that three strips of metal join the boards along the space between them. But if they have solid support on both ends then they might not be needed at all.

If desired likely only 1 would be needed. But for the short length the angle iron would support even very heavy weight along the center seam between boards.

Just my thought anyway.

Ninzerbean (author)andyrak2012-11-05

Oh OK, thanks.

jayeshshinai (author)2012-11-06

iv never seen that kind of a connector (the one you have used to hold the wood shelves to the pipe)...are they used for scaffolding? whats are they called?

Hi jayeshshinai - They're called Kee Klamps ( The come in loads of different shapes so you can pretty much build anything :)

andyrak (author)2012-11-05

I was just thinking that if the ceiling joists were stront enough you can even make a suspended bookshelf that would look pretty nice.

And if you suspend it on tracks you'd have a shelf system that can move around or out of the way as you need it (for a workshop for instance).

Sorry just stream of conciousness based on your structure. I can see lots of options for this nice build!

duncanwilkinson (author)andyrak2012-11-05

Hey andyrak,

I'd love to have suspended shelving, what an awesome idea! And movable shelving on tracks would be a stroke of genius - I think you might have just come up with version two! :)

andyrak (author)duncanwilkinson2012-11-05

Thanks Duncan,

I was thinking of that because we have a library of media at work with sliding shelves but they roll on the tracks on the ground.

I thought of suspending tracks for rollers akin to what some hardware stores sell for suspended rolling door panels (for sheds i guess), similar to what they use for garage door rollers. We've used that for sliding doors on a 20x40 shed we built.

A dream of mine is to have a workshop where i'd have a primary work area but roll in the shelf over the workbench having the gear for the job. Maybe one for electrical work, soldering and such, another for small engine work, etc. Need the workshop first though lol.

I'm talkin too much (it's late for me) but keep on doing more. Lookds great to me!

mckeephoto (author)2012-11-04

Looks fantastic! For my industrial studio space, I think I will try it with black pipe (yes, more expensive but more in fitting with e studio esthetic) and reclaimed wood. Love the structure!

Hi mckeephoto - Black pipe and reclaimed wood would look very cool indeed! - very industrial retro. Please post a link back here once you've done it as I might have to rework this to match yours :)

Srut (author)2012-11-05

Hey Duncan;

Ignore the posters, who always know more, or better than anyone. Their feeble criticisms, are only the masks they wear. I think we all would act like that, if you woke up every morning living their life's. They are also the ones who never posted an Instructable ever!!

I loved the idea, and it came out perfect.


dewnorth (author)2012-11-05

Thicker shelves would be good. I don't like shelves bending under the weight of your objects.

criggie (author)2012-11-04

Bolt it to the wall or ceiling - earthquakes suck.

kwhit190211 (author)criggie2012-11-05

Ohhh yeah. earthquakes do suck, but it's not earthquakes you have to worry about. All shelving must be secured to the wall. I worked in the industrial setting for 28 1/2 years & then 10 years in the commerical setting. When you install shelving you must secure it to the wall or column near it, so that it will not topple over. And, don't think, ohhh that will never happen. Trust me, when I say that it will happen as i have seen this with my own eyes. Shelving will kill it it is not properly secured. Please don't say I don't need to do that. What would you do if a fellow worker or family member gets hurt of killed by the shelving you put up, unsecured? There's no turning the clock back on that one. It is better safe than sorry.

kwhit190211 (author)2012-11-04

Holey smokes, that's a very expensive way to make shelving. Your going to use pipe, all those fittings bolts 2 x 4? tied together. What are you going to put on it. engine blocks? To much money for me. I make mine out of 1 x 12 x whatever length of board that you want to make it from. You can glue & screw or for a more secure shelving I would dado the risers (uprights) to lock the runs (shelves) into place.Then glue 7 screw. Would be cheaper in the long run. Or you could use 1 1/2" turnings & hanger bolts to screw the turnings together. With shelves in between. There are lots of other ways to doing this other that the way this person did it & much cheaper. ALSO FOR A SAFETY NOTE, WHEN YOU MAKE SHELVING UP LIKE THIS IT IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT TO ATTACH IT TO A WALL STUDS IN A COUPLE OF PLACES SO THAT THE SHELVING WILL NOT TOPPLE OVER ONTO SOMEONE. Don't say that it will not happen, because it has already happened to many times to count. And, sometimes with deadly results.

Ninzerbean (author)kwhit1902112012-11-04

He says WHY he made them this way - "After moving to a new apartment in a Georgian house, we needed some bigger than normal shelving units to be the right scale for the higher ceilings. I've always loved the old school retro/warehouse look of the Ralph Lauren shops". Be nice.

kwhit190211 (author)Ninzerbean2012-11-05

I was being nice. I think. If you are building shelving like this, Please secure it to the the wall. And, I don't mean by putting anchors into the wall board either. Secure it by tying into the stud.

MadCobbler (author)Ninzerbean2012-11-04

I don't think he is rude. He's just pointing out the danger of such heavy shelving in a typical home, and the terrible waste of money to construct for the typical home owner.
This is a solid project and kudos to the OP, but reader beware is all the above comments are saying.

slamonella (author)kwhit1902112012-11-04

"To much money for me."

"There are lots of other ways to doing this other that the way this person did it & much cheaper. ."

This isn't about you, it's about how he chose to do it. You're welcome to do it however you like.

kwhit190211 (author)2012-11-05

Sir, it's not about having kids in the area, it's about safety. I worked in the industrial setting for 28 1/2 years & we always had to secure shelving when we put it up. There are no kids anywhere. I've seen with my own eyes, shelving that's fell over that was not secured to the building. A couple of times it trapped the worker that was there. Luckidly no one was ever hurt to bad. But, it could be deadly.

uuglypher (author)2012-11-04

Jeez, Louise,
What was your cost for materials? On a per-book basis that's gotta be one of he most expensive DIY bookshelves I 've ever seen! It's high and heavy and, from what I can see, is not secured to the wall to prevent tipping over on a small child pulling out a book. be like ... it could hold a lot of books!

esotericman (author)2012-11-04

I liked a similar idea in 2008 here:

I personally prefer things which will not sag nor move, as I am a dead-tree cut thin kind of guy. When you have a decade's worth of textbooks looking to stand up, stand them up well!

Thank you for posting this and taking the time to write it up.

sarawelder (author)2012-11-04

I like how this turned out very much. I was thinking of making similar but cost of all the flanges might be too much. What was the total cost?.... I know that flanges etc will cost more in UK than USA

For the less adventurous, there is a similar system ( not as cool of course) at Ikea.

Edgar (author)2012-11-04

A zillion Gizmo makers, aka Junk Collectors, thank you...
A note about it went into my Gizmo blog:

chuckyd (author)2012-11-04

I have built shelves with a similar, industrial, concept. I used small steel angles, in lieu of the sytem you used. Then I just drilled holes in the angle legs where I wanted shelves, and used lag bolts to connect the shelves to the angles. Also, I used 2x12 boards, so that I only had one per shelf. It gives the same industrial look, but with fewer parts and less labor.

If labor is not a concern, I have a few suggestions. One is that galvanized steel can look really good if the surface is rubbed down with a wire brush mounded on a drill. It evens out the appearance. Also, I would counter sink the bolts, and use shorter bolts with hex heads. The long ends of the bolts can mess up your items on the shelf, not to mention arms and hands.

fretted (author)2012-10-31

This is cool you might try a small rubber cap for the exposed bolt to cover the threads i know from experience you can scratch yourself quite well on those threads

Great Ible well done !

slamonella (author)fretted2012-11-04

I would just cut the bolts to length before assembling, then there's no need to cover them.

Ninzerbean (author)2012-11-04

You are very fortunate NOT to have ordered these shelves from Vintage Industrial. I made the mistake of ordering a dining room table from them, custom made to my specs. After waiting the required 12 weeks, the table was finished and I paid the balance. Greg told me on a Friday that he would crate it over the weekend and it would go out on Wednesday.

Three weeks later I told him to put a trace on it as I had never received it. That was when he told me he FORGOT to tell me that the table had been damaged by the summer heat and had cracked and they had to make a new one. But this one was only going to take a week.

I told him to eat his effing table. Visa gave me a full refund - he was only going to give me half. People should not be rewarded for terrible service. I would take his link off here if I was you, I am not too fond of the guy obviously.

On the other hand your shelves are much nicer anyway. Well done!

Mersix (author)2012-11-04

I just got on to KeeKlamps, and could not find this Dual clamp and wonder if you found it elsewhere their shelving seems to rest on the frame of the horizontal pieces, but this bracket that bolts the boards to the vertical bars seems much stronger. I am an artist with a LOT of books and supplies, this would be great for my studio. Does this piece have a name or number (better)?

Thank you for an eye opening project!


duncanwilkinson (author)Mersix2012-11-04

Hi Mersix,

Thank you! :) I got the double clamp from here - (and all the other clamps and poles too). Really helpful guys there and they deliver too. If you need any other links just shout :)

Good luck with your shelves and please post a link here when you've finished so I can see them.

seanweinstein (author)2012-11-04

I'm wondering how much the whole thing cost you. I wanted to build a set of shelving very similar to this one a year ago but i found the cost of all of the pipe fittings to be excessive.

simplifiedbuilding (author)2012-11-01

This is a fantastic project! Well done! Well done! Excellent use of Kee Klamp fittings to create a shelving system for you home.

You can see other shelves made with Kee Klamp on our site:

audreyobscura (author)2012-10-30

This works really well for your space, and the objects you are storing. Nice work.

About This Instructable




More by duncanwilkinson:The Retro Circus Christmas StarThe Treadplate Coffee TableKee Klamp Shelving
Add instructable to: