Introduction: DIY Industrial Black Pipe Bookshelf!
Whew! What an adventure! This project originally started off as a Christmas present (I started it on December 23rd...) and I definitely under estimated the value of a good plan when it comes to buying 85 pieces of pipe!
The first store I went to didn't have all the parts I needed (I literally emptied their shelf of 3/4" Tee fittings) so I had to go to their sister store, 20 miles away just to get the rest of the parts! Certainly the adventure this was...
But in the end, this bookshelf turned out amazing! I love the industrial modern look and it is is super sturdy with plenty of space. Well, maybe not, I am planning to build another for the opposite side of the fireplace for the rest of our book collection. :-)
Also, dont miss out on my Instagram! We have a lot of fun over there: https://www.instagram.com/make_with_jake/
Otherwise, lets just dive into it!
- Wood for the shelves (I used 3/4" x 10" x 48" hickory)
- (18) 10" pipe nipples
- (3) 8" pipe nipples
- (15) 6" pipe nipples
- (15) tee fittings
- (18) elbows
- (6) floor flanges
Step 1: Collecting and Cleaning the Pipe!
Our journey begins with double checking the bill of materials to make 100% sure you have everything you need to kick off this project.
I organized and setup all my black pipe fittings so that I could see everything clearly and make sure I wasn't miscounting anything. Fortunately, this uncovered the fact that one of the pipe tees I bought was the wrong size!! Back to the store I went...
ok, I'm back!
Before putting anything together, I needed to make sure all the pipe was super clean and ready for paint. I used a rag and scotch bright pad to clean off all of the grease, oil, and surface rust from the black pipe. Mineral spirits does a great job at this, although degreaser should work fine as well.
NOTE! Do NOT skip this step! The fittings are coated with a thin layer of wax and grease. Although some of the parts might feel clean, they are not. These coatings will prevent the paint from sticking, and will result in flaking paint later on.
Step 2: Avengers! Assemble the Black Pipe Bookshelf!
Well, not quite.
Next I built the sub-assembles that will be used for the industrial style bookshelf. This includes (3) foot assemblies, 12 shelf support assemblies, and 3 return/wall brackets.
I used a wrench to tighten the elbows into place, but only tightened the tees and 10" pipe parts by hand. I wanted to make sure that during final assembly, I could tighten each one a little more if needed to get the shelving perfectly level.
Step 3: Time for Paint!
With subassemblies complete, I was ready to paint. I took each part outside and gave a it a good coating of flat black paint, making sure not to spray too much and cause drips.
I gave each assembly 2 coats of paint, being sure to let the first dry thoroughly before proceeding. With both coats applied, I set all the parts out of the way so that I could start working on the wood shelves.
Step 4: Breaking Boards (down)
I used rough lumber that I bought from a local sawmill guy. The hickory had a lot of knots and splits, so it needed to be broken down a little more before proceeding with the milling/flattening process.
Ripping the boards down on the bandsaw is a great way to start. I have been using a chalk line to make a straight line where I want to cut, it works really well. Then I just ripped the board, following that line.
Step 5: Joint and Plane
One of the reasons I ripped the wood on the bandsaw was so that it would fit on my 6" jointer. While there I certainly ways I could have flattened a wider board, these boards were pretty squirrely. The smaller I made them, the easier they would be to flatten!
After jointed, I ran each board through the planer (forgot to take a picture of this step, so I included a picture of a plane. Same thing. I think...) and then ripped each board to its final width on the table saw.
Step 6: Pre-glue Up
Whenever gluing up panels from strips of wood, it is important to check the grain orientation order of each wood strip. By alternating the grain direction, the panel will stay much flatter.
I noticed that some of my wood strips did not have a perfectly straight and square edge, probably due to the crazy hickory grain and the temperature variations of my garage. A cool trick I have been using to counteract this is to simply fold each wood strip at the joint, face to face, and then run them together back through the jointer. If you don't have a jointer, you can do the same thing on the table saw.
Since the wood strips were getting pretty thin after milling them flat, I wanted to ensure that I had a perfect glue up experience, so I hedged my bets and used the biscuit joiner. While biscuits don't add strength, and can add unneeded complexity to a simple project, they do help keep the boards perfectly aligned.
Step 7: Glue!
After double checking the board layout, and verifying I put all the biscuits in the right spots, it was time for glue! Not sure what else to say about this step....having a lot of clamps is nice.
Next step, let's go!
Step 8: So Close, Final Panel Cleanup!
The glue was dry so I used a paint scraper to clean up the squeeze out. Not sure why, but I only bought one of the scrapers recently and I have to say, this was the best $8 I spent all year.
I then ran the panels back through my planer, trying to remove the absolutely minimal amount of material. Just enough to clean up the faces. The wood was getting pretty thin at this point, about 5/8" thick, so it was time to be extra careful.
Using my table saw sled, I cut the boards down to length (48") and was ready to sand and finish!
Step 9: The Finish Line! (sort Of...)
I sanded each panel down to 120 grit and then applied a coat of hard wax oil. This is my new favorite finish at this point. It is really easy to apply, all you have to do is wipe it on, let it soak in, and then wipe right back off!
Hard wax oil soaks in and hardens in the wood fibers, with a very thin film layer on top. This leaves a really nice finish that feels like wood - not plastic, like polyurathane would do.
Quick note: I started to drill the holes in the panels before applying the finish. While this is the CORRECT order of operations, I realized that the bit I had was the wrong size and instead of waiting on a new one, I decided to get the finishing out of the way and keep moving forward.
Whenever I get stuck on a project, I try to find a way to keep moving forward, even if I have to skip that step for now on. Worst case, I sweep the floors. At least something gets done that way. :-)
Step 10: Drill Baby! Drill!
Step 11: Assembly!
To help with assembly, The whole family helped out!
To start, I bolted the foot assemblies to a heavy 2x10 piece of construction lumber to help it stay upright. Since this shelf requires a wall for stability, this is a pretty important step.
After each layer, I double checked that the shelf, and the next set of brackets were level. If anything was out of level, or not flat, I would find the bracket that was too high, and give it another full turn and check again. This process takes a little bit of effort, but it is super important to making sure that the shelf doesn't get all wonky. (technical term)
With all the shelves in place, I could install the return/wall brackets on top and head to the installation phase!
Step 12: Welcome to Installation Station!
With the assistance of my wife, we unbolted the shelf from the 2x10 board and then moved the entire shelf to its final home.
I checked again to make sure that the shelf was level and plumb, adjusting the foot flanges as needed to level out the shelf.
Then I pre-drilled and ran drywall screws into the mounting plate (which was attached to studs!) through each of the wall flanges. QUICK TIP! Add some wax to your drywall screws tomake them go in a little easier! I use this trick all the time, and I have heard of some old timers that keep a bar of soap in their toolbox for this very reason! Clever!
Now that the shelf was fastened to the wall, I adjusted each of the shelf brackets so that they would be straight and aligned with the brackets above and below.
General Safety Tip: This style of bookshelf absolutely needs to be installed into wall studs - otherwise, the bookshelf could be pulled off of the wall and that would be very very bad.
Step 13: We Made It!
This was an simple, awesome, and surprising challenging project that just turned out great! I really dig the industrial look and think it really goes well with the brick fireplace. This room will eventually get painted, which will really help add to this awesome look. We have a ton more books in storage, so I will definitely be building a second one of these to go on the other side of the fireplace.
Hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did!
Now get out there and make something awesome!
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