I have been downsizing & minimizing. I got rid of a little computer desk I refurbished and decided to build in storage shelving with a built-in desk.
I’ll give you a clear concise tutorial on price, building tips & buying tips.
Drawing Your Plans
This was the most time consuming part of the project. I changed my mind several times on measurements, how many shelves I wanted, etc. I took a few days to draw my final plans. I sketched a very rough draft on a piece of paper (I’m no carpenter…) But we managed just fine.
I planned around the studs in my wall so I could be sure I had really sturdy solid shelving. My molding was 90 inches from the floor. I wanted to come a few inches below that, so I planned for the shelving to be around 86 inches high.
I also planned around the size of the pipes. They come in stock at 12″, 18″, 24″, and they have a lot of smaller sizes and some larger size pieces. It might make it worth it if you go take a look at what your local store has so you can get a better idea of what you’re working with.
*Important* On my plans, I added 2 inches for every fixture piece (tee or elbow). They aren’t all the same, but adding that to your measurements keeps you from having surprises when you go to assemble.
*Important to Note* I drew my plans for the long shelves to be 72 inches long and made the mistake of getting half that length for my 2 shorter shelves. I had to go back to Lowe’s and got 41 1/2″ custom length cuts. I wanted my shorter shelves to have a few inches of overhang, so 36″ was too short- the hole would be drilled to close to the edge of the wood.
We made the decision to secure the shelves by drilling holes through them, fitting the pipe through, & letting the shelf rest on a 3-way tee. There are other tutorials where you can just rest the shelf on the pipe. I actually drew a set of plans to do our shelves that way. We went back to the original plan when I realized it would cost a lot more because you have to buy a flange for underneath each shelf for the support. It added an extra $60 or so (flanges are spendy). We wanted to stay around $250 so we opted for the drilling.
The shelves span 6 feet horizontally, so we have 3 rows of vertical pipe to support it. Each vertical row of pipe is drilled into a stud in the wall and into the floor. It’s really sturdy even if you don’t drill in the floor, but I didn’t want this shelving to move at all.)
The shelves are held up by the pipe and are not attached to the wall in any way. The front of the shelf is supported by the 3-way tees. The tee underneath each shelf has a 6-inch pipe and a 90 degree elbow facing up, which gives support to the back of the shelf which rests upon it. These are 6″ so the elbow doesn’t hit the wall. The pieces that are connected to flanges had to be 8″ so they could reach the walls and be screwed into studs.
Horizontally: My bottom 2 shelves are 16″ deep. The bottom shelf holds my computer tower and the shelf above that holds my computer monitor. All shelves above that are 12″ deep and hold craft supplies etc. The long shelves are 72″ long. It’s important to note that the 2 shorter shelves aren’t simply half the length of the long shelves. The shorter shelves have about 4″ of overhang from the pipe on both sides, so they measure 41 1/2″ long.
Make A List Of What You Need
After I wrote my list, I double and triple checked to make sure everything was right.
Here is my list:
1. Wood Shelving $60.26
I got my shelving at Lowe’s. It was the cheapest I could find, and it was actually really pretty wood. I got stain-grade pine panels.
- 1 1x16x72 panel $14.82
- 2 1x12x72 panel $23.96 ($11.98/each)
- 2 1x12x48 panel $21.48 ($10.74/each) We had these custom cut to 41 1/4″ to allow around 4″ of overhang on each side of the shelves.
2. Plumbing Pipe $154.52
I went to my local plumbing store and saved $40 by shopping there instead of Home Depot! I couldn’t believe how much it saved me.
All the pipe was black plumbing pipe. I had to buy galvanized flanges-that’s all they had. I bought all fittings in 1/2″.
- 8 1/2″ galvanized floor flanges $29.60 ($3.70/each)
- 17 1/2″ 90 degree elbows $18.36 ($1.08/each)
- 13 1/2″ black tees $19.89 ($1.53/each)
- 1 1/2 x 3″ nipple $0.98
- 8 1/2 x 8″ galv. nipple $21.76 ($2.72/each)
- 12 1/2 x 6″ nipple $18.60 (1.55/each)
- 3 18″ nipple $14.43 ($4.81/each)
- 10 1/2 x 12″ nipple $30.90 ($3.09/each)
3. Miscellaneous $38.74
- Clorox grease-fighting wipes 75-count $4.63 (The wipes are to get the oil & grease off the black pipe before you spray paint them. They come stock very oily
- 7/8″ Spade Drill bit $7.69 (You want the pipe to fit through but you want the hole small enough so the wood can rest on the tee fittings to hold the shelf. Any brand will do. The brand I bought was Bosch)
- Rustoleum Spray Paint $7.48 (My color was the Oil-Rubbed Bronze. It’s more like gun-metal. 1 can was exactly enough. I bought 2 in case but 1 was exactly enough for all the piping.)
- Stain in American Chestnut $11.98 (The stain we bought had a polyurethene seal already in it, otherwise, I highly recommend buying a polyurethene top coat to seal and protect your stain.)
- Stud finder @ Costco $34.99 (This was something we needed to get for other projects as well, and I didn’t include this in the overall price.
- 10-pack Gloves 3.98 (We used to keep the black oil & spray paint off our hands as well as the stain.
- 3 pack of stain pads 2.98 (to evenly distribute the stain on the planks of wood)
What We Did
- Clean Pipe. The pipe is very oily (from cutting and threading). They also have stickers that leave glue residue behind. I didn’t want to use soap and water in fear of rusting the pipe. So I used Clorox grease fighting wipes to clean all pipes and fittings.
- Spray paint pipe. I used Rustoleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze. The spray paint dries super fast which is nice. I also spray painted all the screws so all hardware would match.
- Wood shelves. Decide where you want the drilled holes for the pipe supports. We lined up one shelf with the studs and drew marks with a pencil and used that as a template for the others. Another way you can do it is to use a cardboard template. (We aren’t carpenters so we put a few pieces together before we started staining and spray painting)
- Drill the holes. I used a 7/8″ drill bit to cut holes where I had penciled the marks on the wood. It was really easy to attach it and use with our drill. I used a piece of sandpaper to smooth out the edges after we were done.
- Stain the shelves. Letting the stain dry takes around 6 hours between coats. We did the top and sides then let the dry. Then we flipped the shelves and did the underside. Make sure to get in the drilled holes. We only had to do one coat since the polyurethene coat was in the stain already. Make sure to watch out for drips.
- Put the shelves together. We started from the bottom flanges and worked our way up. We screwed the flanges into the wall to make sure the flanges on the floor were lined up and level. Work with a level before you start screwing in the flanges. You want to make sure your shelves aren’t tilted after you’ve done all this work!
A quick time lapse of our assembly below…
This was the biggest project we’ve completed so far at our home. It took us around 3 days to get all supplies, clean, stain, paint, & assemble.
Time to decorate!
This is a long tutorial but I wanted to include all the small details to help out when you undergo such a fun project! Please let me know what you think!
The longest parts of the project were planning the shelf on paper, staining & painting, and cleaning that glue off the dang pipes. The work was SO worth it. We now have a beautiful permanent custom shelf that adds so much character to our extra room! If you look these types of shelves on etsy, they can retail over $1500!! We built ours for $250.
I found a lot of inspiration and direction for DIY industrial pipe shelving on pinterest, specifically a tutorial from diyshowoff.com, but I wanted to make it my own and add a desk part for my computer.