DIY Wood & Iron Pipe Shelf
Making a shelf can be one of the most simplest DIY projects one can make, but when you add in a bunch of iron pipe and fittings it can get interesting. To add some visual interest to the two tier shelf that I wanted I decided to use black iron pipe as the main structure with a couple pieces of rough sawn Red Oak as the shelves. The wood and iron together gives it a definite sturdy look in it’s own right, but it also looks as though they were made for each other.
The wood of choice was rough sawn, one inch thick, Red Oak. When I say rough sawn, I really mean rough sawn. The saw blade marks are very visible and very defined, which for this project I think it worked out perfectly. The whole “rustic” thing has been around a while and I didn’t want to pursue that kind of project, but with the combination of the pipes I think it comes across as industrial, which is a good alternative. The piece of Red Oak I had on hand came from a friend and it was nine feet in length, about eleven inches wide and one inch thick, so we’re talking about a good size board here. For the area where the shelf was going, I only had around thirty inches to work with, so I cut down two pieces at thirty inches long.
After cutting the boards down I lightly sanded them with a random orbital sander. That’s really all I did to prepare the wood for a finish. I just made sure I removed all the “fuzz” and splinters from the surface because ultimately we would be storing bath towels and wash cloths on this shelf.
For the finish I chose to use a water based polycrylic, it’s my go to finish. Using water based finishes yields a few pros, one being fast drying times. You also don’t have the harsh fumes while applying and it’s also easy to clean up. With the water based polycrylic I can let the kids help me finish it and they love it. Usually this type of finish will dry completely in a half hour or so. That’s it for the wood, now I could focus on the rest of the shelf assembly.
When it comes to design, at least for me, I go back and forth quite a bit trying to decide what looks best and what’s relatable. I researched the ideas I had and came up with a design that I thought would work in the space I had to work with. The first thing I did was start by sketching out the look I wanted in my sketch book. I didn’t focus too much on the actual fittings I would be using, instead I drew out a generic shape and started with that.
After I came up with a shape I liked, I started to think about different fittings and such that I could incorporate into this shelf. I knew I had to have pipe, so it was a no brainer that the span between the shelves were going to be pipe and twelve inches sounded like a good round number to start with. Next I needed to figure out how the shelves would be attached or secured to the pipe. My initial thought was to just separate the two shelves with pipe and flanges, but if you follow me on Instagram you know my initial design didn’t make the cut. I spent a fair amount of time thinking, researching, and drawing out the design I thought I wanted. I went as far as drawing out each individual pipe and fitting and all the spacing I wanted. When it was time to order the parts, I like to order everything from Amazon to make it easy for you to do the same, I decided to make a trip to my local Lowes instead and put my hands on the parts and see what I actually thought about the look, so I grabbed my sketch book and made the trip.
Once I found my way to the pipe aisle and had a couple of the twelve inch pipes laid out I quickly realized I wasn’t allowing myself enough room for the storage I wanted. The pipes measure from end to end including the threads, so the non-threaded section was actually shorter than the twelve inches I had planned on using, so I changed that to eighteen inch pipes. That was the first change. The design in my sketch book showed that I needed some tees, flanges, and a few short pipes. Basically, I was just connecting the shelves with two pipes on each side with flanges. After seeing the design in person I said to myself, “self, change the design”. I didn’t really say that, but I did change the design right there in the middle of the floor at Lowes. I had a lot of parts laid out in the floor and even had some of the packages opened to get a better idea of what the heck I was doing. In the end, I came out with a better looking design, in my opinion, and added more visual interest with the wood by bringing the pipe up through a hole to continue the frame of the shelf instead of just connecting the two shelves with the pipe fittings.
I guess the take away from the design aspect is that there’s always a different way and it may or may not be the best one, but in this case it turned out to be better.
The assembly went together flawlessly mainly due to the fact that I had already assembled the shelf once in Lowes, remember? There were several things going on during this process other than just putting it together. The main objective was getting all the fittings lined up the same on both sides, because there are two identical assemblies, one on each side.
Since the final design called for the pipes to go through holes in the wood I had to assemble the shelf in two phases. First, I needed to assemble the bottom portion of the shelf, which included (on one side) a couple flanges, a tee, four inch pipe, an elbow, and the eighteen inch pipe. With the bottom portion of the pipe structure assembled, I could now add the wood that would become the lower shelf.
Once the lower shelf was secured I could then add on the rest of the fittings with the exception of the caps.
After the upper shelf was in place and secured the caps were installed and the full shelf became a completed project. As I added fittings I made sure my measurements were the same on both sides. This was important to maintain to ensure level shelves in the end.
Hardware and Mounting
The hardware for this shelf is pretty straight forward once you have the design laid out. Luckily you don’t have to figure it all out like I did, below you can download the shopping list and have everything delivered straight to your door. I will say that I actually got my hardware from Lowes due to the uncertainty I was having with the design, but now after knowing it works I wouldn’t have a problem ordering it online.
One thing I haven’t covered is the cleaning of the pipes. A lot of articles and videos you find may suggest using Acetone to remove the black pipe coating, but all I used was water and a rag.
Watch the video for the results and see for yourself. The fully assembled shelf is heavy and requires a stud wall to hang on. I highly recommend serving into studs when mounting this shelf on the wall. The way this shelf is designed there are sixteen possible hole locations to use for mounting. If any of the holes do not line up with a stud, wall anchors are definitely required. Disclaimer: I do not recommend hanging this shelf with wall anchors only, wall studs are required. Hang or mount at your own risk.
For a project that is functional and that can also be stylish depending on your creativity this can be a fun project. Here’s the material list:
- Two boards 10”-12” wide, 30” long, .75”-1” thick
- Black iron pipe and fittings
Shopping List and Project Plans
Miter saw rolling cart plan: https://stoneandsons.net//shop/multipurpose-shop-cart-plan/
See our other plans: https://stoneandsons.net//plans/
Tools Used In This Project
(*the project mentioned in this article can be built with limited tools)
• Miter saw, Kobalt: http://amzn.to/2mD5lkV
Sanders and Accessories:
• Random orbital, Skil: http://amzn.to/2ts2o9C
Drilling and Accessories:
• Drill and impact 20v, Porter Cable: http://amzn.to/2txekak
• Drill and drive bit set, Kobalt: http://amzn.to/2stIbf6
• Drill bit set 21 piece, Kobalt: http://amzn.to/2urlY2G
• Forstner bit set, Porter Cable: http://amzn.to/2trXpG5
Dust Collection and Accessories:
• Dust collector 2hp, Central Machinery: http://amzn.to/2spq9Q1
• 4″ dust separator kit: http://amzn.to/2t8kf2M
• 4″ dust port adapter: http://amzn.to/2sYTKhI
• 4″ self cleaning blast gate: http://amzn.to/2sorgPM
• 4″ angled dust port: http://amzn.to/2ts8Op1
• 4″ to 2″ Y dust fitting: http://amzn.to/2ttfymq
• 4″ Y fitting: http://amzn.to/2t8z0T9
• 4″ to 2.25″ reducer (for shopvac): http://amzn.to/2txtX1K
• 4″ 3-way junction dust fitting: http://amzn.to/2s99gEP
• Jointer dust hood, 4″: http://amzn.to/2sprG8J
• Table saw dust hood, 4″: http://amzn.to/2ts5vOS
• 5″ to 4″ reducer, Delta: http://amzn.to/2txuBwc
• Dust hose clear, 2.5″ x 10′: http://amzn.to/2stVMms
• Dust hose clear, 4″ x 50′: http://amzn.to/2stMbwa
• Foil tape: http://amzn.to/2u6sYCD
• Hose clamp, 2.5″: http://amzn.to/2t8fdDs
• Hose clamp, 4″: http://amzn.to/2sur5NU
• Shop Vac, 12 gal: http://amzn.to/2ts4ENX
Measuring, Marking and Layout:
• Lefty/Righty 16′ tape measure, FastCap: http://amzn.to/2urCXSy
• 8” speed square, Swanson: http://amzn.to/2urfvVn
• Safety glasses, 3M: http://amzn.to/2txHtT7
• Fire extinguisher: http://amzn.to/2ururTy
• First aid kit: http://amzn.to/2urwR4B
Video Equipment and Electronics:
• DSLR camera and mic, Canon/Rode: http://amzn.to/2urN0qA
• Camera battery pack, Canon: http://amzn.to/2sudLcx
• Wireless mic, Rode: http://amzn.to/2vYjDkF
• Mic wind muff: http://amzn.to/2urLqoy
• Tripod, Manfrotto: http://amzn.to/2s9MHjB
• Mic for voiceover, Snowball: http://amzn.to/2spgI2K
• Backpack for laptop (modified for camera): http://amzn.to/2sppNsC
• Memory card, 64gb: http://amzn.to/2s9hPzC
• Memory card waterproof case: http://amzn.to/2suLliC
• Laptop, MacBook: http://amzn.to/2urnDFx
• Network Attached Storage, 6TB: http://amzn.to/2suvRLu
Other tools I use
*Most of the links listed above are Amazon Affiliate links
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