Introduction: Fully Adjustable PVC Rack and Shelving - $29

About: Seafood is my specialty but my love of food justice, self-reliance and productivity knows no bounds. I grow food under my bed.

Here are the goals of this project:

1. Design shelving for pans holding grow lights and produce. It must be easily replicable and affordable.

2. It must use ordinary parts and hold a common 20” baking pan that can slide in and out of the rack.

3. Allow for minute height changes to optimize distance between racks to facilitate lighting, plant height, etc.

4. Slight frame profile to maximize usable space

Check the video at the bottom for a quick time lapse view of the build.

Step 1: Design Size and Shelving Count

I used 3/4” PVC pipe (exterior dimension) and fairly standard connectors. Total cost: 12’ PVC 3@ 3.30 = 10, Connectors = $19. Some of the fittings are tough to find at hardware stores and are much cheaper online. The standard 20x12 aluminum pans are about fifty cents each at Costco.

Here’s how to calculate what you’ll need:

PVC connectors take in 1.5 cm of pipe when connected. Interior depth = side piece length + 3cm. Interior width = end piece length + 3cm.

You can set the height for each rack by changing out the four columns. The minimum height is the distance between the connectors stacked on top of each other with enough pipe to connect them vertically, but not long enough to show. The maximum height is limited by physics. You can easily make minute adjustments to the height without changing the column pieces by rotating the shelf arms to raise or lower the inner piece that holds the pans.

Step 2: Assemble Materials

Your rack with have one bottom, one top and as many levels as you'd like. Calculate how many cuts and connectors you'll need by multiplying the number of levels and adding all the pieces together.

(1)Bottom + (1)Top + (X)Mid Levels = Total materials required.

Bottom level = 2 @ elbows, 2 @ 3-way side pieces, 2 @ 31cm width pieces, 4 risers of desired size (The one in the picture of the greens is 14cm).

Mid levels = 2 @ 3-way T pieces, 2 @ 4-way side pieces, 2 @ 49cm length pieces glued to 2 @ 43cm pieces, 2 @ 31 cm width pieces, 4 risers of desired size.

Top level = 4 @ 3-way side pieces, 2 @ 49cm length pieces, 2 @ 31 cm width pieces,

Step 3: Glue Shelf Arms

In order to support the drawers and allow them to slide in and out, you'll want to glue shorter pieces of pipe to the frame arms. Cut the desired length of pipe and cut another piece that is 6cm shorter. Center the shorter piece and glue these together. Gorilla glue works very well if you moisten the surfaces prior. I recommend holding them fast using rubber bands until they dry.

Watch the video for more detail on gluing these together and a time-lapse of assembling the rack.

I'm currently using the rack to test the most efficient way to grow racks of microgreens in the grow tent under my lofted bed. Anyone have interest in growing microgreens or suggestions on how to improve or better products to test?

PVC Challenge

Runner Up in the
PVC Challenge