Introduction: Making Your Own Custom Industrial Pipe Shelf Unit

About: I'm a DIYer and creator likes to build, capture, and share my creations.

Now, I normally make YouTube videos of my builds, but for this one, it was so long ago, I didn't even own a camera at the time!

This was the second DIY Project I ever took on - nearly three years ago - it was low on the woodworking skill but high on the design / pre-planning skills. I wanted to share it here as it is a staple of my apartment now and I probably get the most compliments of anything I have built...which maybe means I built other things that were a lot less cool!

Step 1: Plan Your Design

I saw a picture online (can't find that anymore) of shelves that I liked from Restoration Hardware - they were $300+. That's a big hell no for me. Time to build my own. Quick tape layout for measurement. Shelves will be slightly smaller, but you get the idea.

Step 2: Gather Tools and Materials

Started off by taking a trip to Home Depot. I was working off of only one reference image I had found and with zero direction and very little building experience...I bought what I believed was exactly what I needed. I also spent a good 45 minutes in the galvanized pipe aisle testing out combinations, double checking which parts I bought...

Side Note - I can't believe I got everything in one trip from Home Depot.

Wood / Stain Materials

  • 1 x 1" x 6" x 4' Whitewood
  • Ash Woodstain
  • Toggle Bolt Screws (to mount to drywall)

Pipe Pieces (All 3/4" Galvanized)

  • 6 x 0" (just connectors that pass through the wood)
  • 4 x 1"
  • 4 x 3"
  • 2 x 4"
  • 2 x 7"
  • 2 x 12"

Pipe Connectors

  • 4 x Pipe Flanges
  • 2 x Tips / Nipples
  • 6 x Elbows
  • 4 x T Pieces
  • 5 x Pipe Connectors


Step 3: Make Your Cuts

I don't have a picture of this, but I had the people at Home Depot cut my 4' piece of whitewood into three sections of 15", 15", and 18". Note - it will be slightly less than 18" given the kerfing of your blade.

If you have a circular saw, you can do this yourself!

Step 4: Pipe Piece Breakdown

Here is a marked up photo of how every single pieces comes together - I color coded pieces in the picture and in the below description to help you map out and reference where things go - all pipe pieces 3" and above are White.

Pipe Pieces (All 3/4" Galvanized)

  • 6 x 0" (lime green - you can see how these only pass through the wood - they don't need to be any longer)
  • 4 x 1" (red)
  • 4 x 3" (white)
  • 2 x 4" (white)
  • 2 x 7" (white)
  • 2 x 12" (white)

Pipe Connectors

  • 4 x Pipe Flanges (Greenish-Yellow)
  • 2 x Tips / Nipples (Blue)
  • 6 x Elbows (Teal)
  • 4 x T Pieces (Magenta / Pink)
  • 5 x Pipe Connectors (Orange)

Step 5: Pipe Assembly: Part 1 / Hole Drilling

You need to drill six total holes at 1" wide in order to connect everything. The easier way to to do this is to actually assemble your pipe pieces that will slot through them, then use that exact measurement to mark your holes. The best part about these pipes is you can always tighten them one extra turn incase the holes you drilled are slightly off - they tighten very well and are very sturdy.

Picture 1 is the pipe assembly of the middle section.

Picture 2 is me measuring out the two outside sections with the pipe pieces.

Picture 3 shows the final drilled holes of each section that I cut after using my pieces to measure and mark areas

Step 6: Stain Your Wood

Stain your wood whatever color(s) you want!

I chose a darker Ash color, but you could choose to paint, or add watery paint for hints of color and then stain - so many options! I did two coats with no pre-stain conditioner and it was all good!

Step 7: Pipe Assembly: Part 2

I began assembling my various other pieces.

Picture 1 shows the two outside pieces (left side), and the middle piece (right side)

You can see how using the 0" pieces on the ends (Picture 2) allow you to then pass your pipes through the holes to connect things without using any glue or screws.

You can reference Step 4 for how all of these pieces connect

Step 8: Pipe Assembly: Part 3

More Assembly. I took all of my assembled sections and inserted the wood via the holes I drilled.

Picture 1 shows the middle piece being inserted.

Picture 2 shows me combining the top outside piece to the middle one.

Picture 3 shows them fully assembled, including the pipe flange pieces I'd use to connect the piece to walls.

Again - you can reference Step 4 for how all of the components come together

Step 9: You're Done! Hang Your Shelves!

I used Toggle Bolts to hang my shelves as they were build in such a way that there was no way they'd line up with studs. Toggle Bolts handle 50 pounds EACH, so using 8 was more than enough to secure them to the wall.

I usually make YouTube videos now when I build things, but this was so long ago that I only have pictures.

If you enjoyed this project - you should check out my other Instructables and my YT Channel as I try to put out projects I build for myself ever few weeks.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments about this project!