There are a lot of ways to use iron plumber's pipe to make shelves. Here's the way that has worked well for me. Pipe shelving systems are not cheap but are a great investment because they can be disassembled and adapted to almost any setting. If you're renting your current home or move often, they're an excellent alternative to moving giant bookcases. If you own your home, it can be a nice, full-height bookcase for a study, shelving for dry goods in a kitchen or even organization in a closet.
Step 1: Supplies + Tools
3/4" Pine Boards
I used 6 foot long 10 inch wide boards. Boards that are listed as 10" wide are actually 9 1/4" wide. You can make the shelves with wider or narrower boards, but the trick is to match the width of the boards to the length of the horizontal pipes. I used 10" pipes with 10" boards and it worked out perfectly.
1/2" Diameter Black Iron Pipes + Fittings
I recommend using a vertical set of pipe supports about every 30"-48" of shelf length. I made 6 foot long shelves and used 3 supports located 30 inches apart.
Pipe clamps are metal loops that can be used to connect the pipes to the boards. Use 2 clamps per horizontal pipe support and fasten them with 5/8" long screws.
RYOBI 18 Volt Cordless Drill
RYOBI Orbital Sander
RYOBI 18 Volt Circular Saw
Three 3/4" Diameter Plugs
Plugs make it easy to adjust and level the shelves, but are not essential.
Step 2: Download the Pipe Shelves Plan
Click here to download the pipe shelves plan.
Step 3: Cut the Boards
Cut the boards to overhang the end pipes about 4-12 inches.
Step 4: Sand + Finish the Boards
Sand the boards with 220 grit sandpaper and finish with a coat of Danish oil or a clear acrylic finish.
Step 5: Assemble the Pipes
Screw the pipes together by hand. They don’t need to be tightly screwed together, just securely connected.
Step 6: Screw the Flanges to the Wall
Use a level to make sure the pipes are vertical before screwing the flanges to the wall. If your walls are made of gypsum board, use drywall anchors.
Step 7: Paint the Pipe Clamps
I wanted the shiny pipe clamps to match the black iron pipes, so I sprayed the clamps with matte black spray paint.
Step 8: Secure the Boards
Use the pipe hangers to secure the boards to the pipes.