DIY pipe shelving unit

One of my resolutions for 2016 is to purchase our own furniture. Because we’ve never done it. And we’re adults. And I can no longer bear the mismatched hodgepodge of hand-me-down furniture we’ve been sporting since college.

When we got married and moved, we didn’t want to buy furniture because 1) we had no money and 2) why outfit a place with furniture if we’re just going to move? Well, it’s been 3 years, and we’re still in the same apartment, so chances are we aren’t moving any time soon. Plus, if we invest in good quality furniture that can fit any space, we can keep it forever.

So that’s what we’re doing.

I got on a crazy furniture researching obsession the past couple of weeks, and after we brought home a new couch, I couldn’t stop. I MUST HAVE THE WHOLE PLACE IN ORDER.

So we’re throwing out the old – and in with the new. Pretty exciting stuff.

Does this mean I’m old?

One thing I’d seen previously and have had on my mind for our space is pipe shelving. We have a lot of stuff, and our current bookshelf was always overflowing. But instead of buying it, this is something I knew we could make. You can find DIY tutorials on the internet for this sort of thing, but my husband is an engineer (finally becoming useful!) and didn’t even look at them. This is what we he did.

FYI: The piping is the most expensive part of this project. And honestly, the most time consuming part is just cleaning the pipes off. We decided not to stain/seal the wood beforehand (because hello, time), and our intentions were to stain it at a later point. But I like the lightness of the wood (which is completely covered with our stuff anyway) with the color of the piping, so I think it will stay. This means a lot less work, which is A-OK with me.

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 Here is his preliminary drawing. Our final dimensions came out to just under 8 feet high (to top of pipe), 6 feet wide, and 1 foot deep with 4 shelves spaced a little more than 1 foot apart. The first shelf is 2.5 feet (30″) off the ground.

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Supplies (~$300):

(4) 6 ft x 1 ft pine wood – also the cheapest

(18) 12″ nipples (3/4 in wide)

(3) 8″ nipples (3/4 in wide)

(15) 6″ nipples (3/4 in wide)

(15) 90 degree elbows (for 3/4 in wide)

(12) Tees (for 3/4 in wide)

(6) couplers (for 3/4 in wide)

(6) circular floor flanges (for 3/4 in wide pipes)

rubber grip

drill + 1 1/8″ drill bit



  1. Clean off the piping (to remove tag stickiness and oil).
  2. Drill 3 holes approximately 2 5/8″ from front shelf face (he used 1 1/8″ spade drill bit) in each board. The two end holes are placed 8″ from either end, and the middle hole is 36″ from either end – the holes will be spaced 28″ from each other.
  3. Start putting the pipes together bottom up. The base will be a circular floor flange (with rubber grip attached to bottom) + 12″ nipple + a coupler + 12″ nipple + coupler + 6″ nipple + Tee We did NOT screw the base into the floor. Repeat for other 2 pipes.
  4. From the middle of the Tee, attach an 8″ nipple. At the end of the 8″ nipple, attach a 90 degree elbow facing up. Repeat for other 2 pipes.
  5. From the top of the Tee, attach a 12″ nipple. Repeat for other 2 pipes.
  6. Slide your first board over pipes and through holes. The back end of the board will rest on top of the face up 90 degree elbow (see photo below). Attach a Tee to the top of each 12″ nipple.Processed with VSCO with s1 preset
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 for remaining boards.
  8. Once the shelves are in place, and you’ve added your last 12″ nipples, you will attach a 90 degree elbow to each (facing towards wall) + 8″ nipple + a circular floor flange. Screw into wall. See photo below.

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And there you have it! Make sure the piping is straight and everything is screwed in tight. We may add more of the floor flanges under the first shelf to secure the bottom to the wall, but honestly it’s pretty secure (especially under the weight of everything on the shelves).

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The great thing about this is it’s entirely customizable, and it can be switched up at a later date – different dimensions, new wood (since that was the cheapest part), etc.

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We stayed up ’til 2:30 am (WHAT) to finish the shelf and arrange all of our books/trinkets on it (the fun part). I’m pretty in love with it.

I will share photos soon, but so far we have a couch + this shelf + a media console on the way. Everything else is getting put on the curb, and a lot of things on the walls are coming down. I am so excited to finally have a space that is more organized and open and comfortable – it will make me feel much more relaxed and happy at home. All good things.

-wonderland sam

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actress/texan kickin' it in los angeles. always searching for my next pizza. cia agent in another life.

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