Introduction: Industrial Style Shelves

These shelves are based on some we saw once in an expensive furniture shop. I don't know the name of the shop or the (talented!) designer, but we needed some shallow, tall shelves so when we saw this cool design (simple and elegant, yet also solid and "industrial") we adapted it.

The original (apart from being way out of our price range at over 1400€ !) was deeper, smaller and had less shelves, and the wood was quite different - laminated strips of pine, somehow aged to look like driftwood.

In the end it took a couple of days to complete including varnishing and assembly, and the cost was around €160.

I apologise for the photos - there are few and they are poor quality.

Step 1: Ingredients

You can use any type of wood and a variety of steel tubing. But this
"Industrual -chic" design works well with the most basic materials: rough pine and unpolished steel tubing (I got everything from a builder's yard)


12m rectangular steel box tube (5cmX2.5cm) (thickness: 0.25cm). (We cut this up into 2 bits, each 6m meters long, for transportation).


5 shelves, each 1.35m long, 30 cm wide, 8.5cm thick. (As we'll discuss later, you could use different size shelves with the same steel frame - it's quite flexible)

Nuts and Bolts

20 bolts (4 per shelf) (diameter 8mm, length 80mm), with washers

+ roughly 60 cm long steel plate (for the wall and floor brackets); 5 cm wide, 4 mm thickness.


Saw for cutting steel

Saw for cutting wood

Steel welder

Drill with 8 mm drill-bits for steel and wood

Optional: Disc cutter with 40 grain zirconia fiber disc for cleaning the welds and, as you'll see later, to age the wood.

Step 2: Cut the Steel for the Frame

The steel frame is made up of 2 identical halves, which will be held together by the wooden shelves.

As you can see from the diagram, each side of the frame is composed of 5 parts, the ends of which are either straight or cut at a 45° angle.

So for the complete frame you cut the following 10 pieces:

- 280cm with one end cut at 45 degrees (times 2)

- 216cm with both ends cut at 45 degrees (times 2)

- 20cm with one end cut at 45 degrees (times 4)

- 28cm with one end cut at 45 degrees (times 2)

We used a big heavy steel saw to do the cutting which made it really easy! But you can use a disc-cutter or hand saw or whatever you have that can cut steel tubing.

Step 3: Build the Frame


Following the diagram, tac and weld together the 5 parts which make up each side of the frame. All the angles are 90°.

Grind off the welds (if you want to get a very industrial look you can leave them on).


You also need to make 4 brackets: as you can see on the diagram, these must be welded on the ends of the frame and allow you to bolt the frame to the floor and the wall. This is highly recommended: the shelves will be well balanced because of the clever design, but for safety they must always be fixed to a wall because they will be very tall and heavy once completed.

Cut 4 bits of flat steel about 15cm by 5 cm. Weld one to each end of the frames. That will to allow you to use 2 big bolts on each, to fix the shelves firmly to the wall and floor.

Holes for mounting the shelves

Each shelf will be screwed to the steel frame with four bolts, 2 on the left side of the frame and 2 on the right.

Mark out the required heights for the shelves; we placed the top and bottom shelves 216 apart (= at the same height as the horizontal sections of the frame) and then spaced the other shelves out equally between them. Of course it also works with a different spacing.

Drill 2 holes in each symmetrical side of the frame. Make sure the 4 holes for each shelf are at the same height! It will also make things easier if you drill each hole exactly in the center of the steel frame. If the holes aren’t exactly centered, when you come to drill the pilot holes in the shelves you will have to mark out every hole.

Step 4: Cut the Shelves

Cut 5 shelves

Because of the flexible design you can really use whatever size shelves you like with the steel frame you have built! The only requirement is that they be at least 25cm deep.

We wanted shelves around 30 cm deep, and around 1.35m wide. I also wanted to make the shelves look chunky and industrial, so we used 8.5 cm thick pine.

Using uncut or unfinished wood

It's easiest if you buy wood that is the right size (or that can be easily cut to the correct size), and that is already planed and finished.

We weren't able to purchase wood of the correct dimensions, which meant we had to use 2 pieces of wood for each shelf - an operation which I won't describe here because it's specific to the size of the wood and the size you want to make each shelf. We bought 3 big unfinished pine planks from the builders yard, and then chopped and laminated them to get the correct dimensions, before passing them through the planer to make them smooth.

Drill pilot holes in each shelf

Now you need to drill pilot holes in each shelf so that it can be bolted to the steel frame. Drill 4 holes in each shelf, aligned with the holes you drilled in the steel frameT

Step 5: Assemble and Finish

Use the disc cutter to round off the angles of the shelves and add the “weathered” effect. Go crazy with the disc cutter. You can make a boring new piece of pine look battered and interesting in just a couple of minutes.

The original shelves were also sandblasted and aged chemically. But we liked the shelves so much at this point (some really nice grain came out in the planks), that we decided just to sand and varnish them.

Once you have finished varnishing, you need to assemble the shelves: lie the frame down and bolt the shelves in place. They are quite heavy when completed. Then stand the shelves up and bolt them to the wall using the wall brackets.