DIY Industrial Pipe Shelving Unit




Introduction: DIY Industrial Pipe Shelving Unit

Shelving units can be expensive to purchase and usually use the same boring designs. Why use store bought shelves when you can make them yourself? A member of our staff decided to make his own urban shelving unit out of pipes.

Adam is not much of a mechanic or DIYer, but wanted to find a shelving unit to consolidate his vintage camera collection. He did a little bit of research on Pinterest, and came up with a plan to create a pipe shelving unit to hold his camera collection. These shelves create an urban look for your home, and make a beautiful addition to any room. Check out his step by step process of making these DIY shelves below!

Step 1: Materials & Cleaning (optional)

Wall Unit:

  • 32 Risers
  • 26 Shelf Pipes
  • 8- 24" Threaded Pipes
  • 4 Nipple Fittings
  • 24 Caps
  • 28 Tees
  • 4- 90 Degree Street Elbows
  • 8 Flanges
  • 4- 1" Nipples
  • 4 Unions

Center Section

  • 6- 18" Threaded Pipes
  • 2- 26" Threaded Pipes
  • 2 Unions
  • 2- 90 Degree Street Elbows
  • 2- 1" Nipples
  • 2 Flanges
  • 2 Caps

Lights: (optional)

  • 2- 12" Pipes
  • 2- 90 Degree Street Elbows
  • 2- 1" PVC Nipples
  • 2- PVC Caps (Drilled)
  • 2- Replacement Lamp Sockets

Shelving Boards:

  • 12- 51" by 8" oak boards
  • 1- 13 ft. by 8" oak board

Stain: Rusto-leum® Varathane Weathered Grey
Polyurethane: Matte Finish

Adam first fully scrubbed out the pipes with acetone to remove the paint in order for them to be ready for a new coat of paint. This step of scrubbing out the pipes is no longer necessary, as Adam realized after creating the shelves; you can find the pipes for your shelves at an inexpensive price from your local hardware store such as: Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, or Menards.

Step 2: Painting the Pipes

Next, he sprayed the pipes with Rust-oleum® Universal® metallic black spray paint to achieve the metal black color that he wanted. This step is optional, but picking out a spray paint color of your choice can help personalize your shelving unit so it will fit in with the colors of your home.

Step 3: Assembling the Pipes

Once the spray paint was dry, Adam started to twist the pipes together for the wall unit. Pictured you can see a flange twisted into a tee pipe which is attached to two piping pieces to create the bottom left corner of the shelving. He plans to add felt under the flange to prevent it from scratching the floor. Majority of this shelving unit just requires simply twisting the different pieces of piping together. You will also need to anchor the top flanges into the wall to hold the shelf in place.

Step 4: Adding the Shelves

Here’s the completed pipe shelving unit against the wall. Adam cut 12- 51″ by 8″ pieces of oak wood for the smaller shelves. Then, he cut 1- 13 feet by 8″ shelf to run across the entire unit. After organizing the wooden boards onto the shelves, Adam decided to stain the wood so the shelving unit would blend in with the rest of the room.

Step 5: Installing Lights (optional)

Pictured above you can see the stained boards placed across the shelving unit. He also added lights on the top of the shelving unit by threading the wires up into the pipe. He used these lights to give the area more character to fit in with the photography theme of this room. Currently, the lights are non-functional, but make great decor next to his cameras.

Step 6: Displaying Your Creation!

In the picture above, you can see a close up of Adam’s vintage cameras on the stained wooden shelf on the piping unit. The color of the shelves contrasts well with the cameras where the color of the piping matches the majority of the vintage cameras. This shelving unit completes an urban style look for any room, and is a beautiful way to show off any treasured collection.

For more DIY shelving units check out our blog.

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    3 Discussions


    That shelving unit looks nice. Are the shelves attached in any way to the pipes? I would be afraid that you could bump it and a shelf could fall off of the pipe. Don't want all those cameras falling off and potentially breaking.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you! Adam says the gas pipe cap is pressure fit against the tee fitting, which makes the shelves stay in place. (see below image)


    Tip 2 years ago

    "This step of scrubbing out the pipes is no longer necessary, as Adam realized after creating the shelves;"

    I would agree, but only if there is no chance of rubbing against them. Having put together a few of these "Legos for adults" (as the dude in the Lowe's plumbing section is fond of saying) creations I'm here to tell you the gunk on the outside of iron pipes is pretty gnarly. It's there for a reason--to prevent rusting pipes in damp locations. As such, it's viscous and tenacious. Imagine the missus ruining her favorite party dress with an ill-fated bump. And don't put pipe that's not been stripped and painted on carpet, unless you plan on replacing the carpet.
    And, speaking of ill-fated bumps, I concur with IJLMT below. Securing those shelves would be an important safety tip. That looks like a pretty costly collection. 'Twould suck mightily to lose it for lack of a few pipe straps.