AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

DIY Open Pipe Shelving

July 3, 2015

Industrial pipe shelving has been a DIY request since season two, episode one – The Little House on the Prairie. The Batsons’ kitchen cabinets were made completely of these industrial pipe open shelving units (see below), and today we wanted to show you how simple this DIY can be for your own kitchen, bedroom or any room in your home in need of interest and dimension.

With a little hard work and dedication, this project could be conquered in just one afternoon!

Here’s what you’ll need:
-Fig. A – 3/4″  flange (x 10 – 8 for wall; 2 for ceiling)
-Fig. B – 3/4″ x 10″ pipe (x 8)
-Fig. C – 3/4″ x 18″ pipe (x 2)
-Fig. D – 3/4″ 3-way tee (x 6)
-Fig. E – 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ pipe (x 6)
-Fig. F – 3/4″ connector (x 6)
-Fig. G – 3/4″x 6″ pipe (x 6)
-Fig. H – 3/4″  90-degree elbow (x 2)
-Wall anchors and screws (not shown)
-Wooden planks – 4′ x 10″ (x4)
-Optional: High quality metallic spray paint.
-Optional: For easier assembly, you can replace materials E, F and G with 3/4″ x 10″ piping if you like. We chose to use the 3 materials listed to add character.

PREP:
– Wipe pipes to remove any residue or excess oil/grease (if pipes were custom cut).
– If you want to have all the pieces uniform,  you can spray paint them with a high quality metallic spray paint. NOTE: galvanized pieces resist some spray paints due to a coating of zinc that is applied to avoid corrosion. Since we chose to use black iron pipes, primer and paint adhesion was not a problem.
– Cut shelves according to wanted size (4′ x 10″ in this illustration); stain if desired.

Make your “vertical” pipes by using a 3/4″ connector (F) to attach 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ pipe (E) with 3/4″ x 6″ pipe (G). Repeat this step for a total of 6 “vertical” pipes.
Note: you could avoid this step and use a solid 3/4″ x 10″ pipe if you’d rather.

Use a 3/4″ 3-way tee (D) to connect your assembled “vertical” pipes (E, F, G) and attach 3/4″ x 10″ “horizontal” pipe (B) as shown. Attach 3/4″ flange (A) to open end of “horizontal” pipe.

For the bottom shelf, attach “vertical” pipe (E, F, G) to 3/4″ 90-degree elbow (H). Attach “horizontal” pipe (B) and flange (A).

Illustration of assembly before attaching the final “vertical” pipe (Fig. C).

Attach top “vertical” pipe – 3/4″ x 18″ (C) – to the top of 3/4″ 3-way tee (D) and screw flange (A) to open end of (C) pipe.

Hold assembled unit against the wall and flush with the ceiling. Use a balance to ensure it is straight and mark the walls to screw anchors. After inserting anchors, align unit and screw in place.

As we were using 4′ x 10″ wooden planks, we placed the 2 assembled units 3′ apart to allow the shelves to overlap by approximately 6″ on either side.

Place wooden plank shelves in unit and that’s it! There are a few moving parts to juggle as you build your unit, but it truly is simple once you get the hang of it. The finished product is well worth the afternoon lost! Enjoy!

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  • Susie Ellis
    10:23 am, July 22, 2017
    Hi Joanna and Chip!
    I have reclaimed cedar from an architectural salvage store. I want to use them as shelves in my office. I am researching how to refinish them. I had them cut to size. Any tips? Love you guys! My sister and visited the silos a year or so ago!
    Thanks,
    Susie Ellis
  • Sarah
    8:06 am, July 21, 2017
    I am trying to build one of these for my book-lover of a husband, but I need to more than double the length, would I need to do flanges and a pipe column through the middle for support? Instead of going to the ceiling I assume I can do another elbow at the top to attach to the wall? Also, what if you cannot find studs in the wall?! - Desperate to surprise my hubby
    • David
      9:01 am, July 22, 2017
      My opinion -- EZ Ancor - available at most big box hardware stores would work well if you don't find studs. Not hard to use and hold well to sheetrock. If you double the width you definitely would need to add a middle support or two. If you are loading it with books the wood will sag if it spans more than about 30 inches. If you are putting books the whole width I would probably put the middle one to the ceiling to help support the load. Books weigh a lot. If you are going to decorate it similarly to the images, you could probably get away with not going to the ceiling with the middle support.
  • Billy Reaves ( a woman named after my dad)
    12:29 pm, July 14, 2017
    This is great, but everything you guys do is great! I enjoy watching you so much I've seen all you programs and love watching them over and over. My son wants me to move to Texas from Cleveland, Ohio and I told him, " Even if I could afford it, the only way I would do it if I bought a Fixer Upper and Joanna and Chip Gaines would renovate it for me." I love you two and respect the love you show for each other and the 4 lovely kids you have. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY!
  • Zach
    7:52 am, June 13, 2017
    Universal Southern Corp has all of the pipe and fittings you need for these projects at great prices! I find them on the internet and used them for my shelving project! If you call them they are willing to give way better pricing then listed on their web site. Best of all they will sell to anyone!
    • Steven
      9:07 pm, July 21, 2017
      Zach - looks like the Universal Southern black iron pipe and fittings are pretty clean to start with or is it just their online photos? ... love our Magnolia Furniture
  • Jolei Higgins
    12:55 pm, May 31, 2017
    I would like to make these in brass. I am having trouble finding brass pipe in my area. Has anyone done this? Tips? Help? Where to find?
    • Jeanne
      10:24 am, June 24, 2017
      I wanted mine in bronze. So I just got the galvanized pipes and a can of hammered bronze it looks like the real deal. Good luck.
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