Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf - The EGG

The Hubby and I moved into a loft almost a year ago and we have been slowly decorating and making it a home ever since. Surprisingly we did not have to buy very much new stuff, because most of our furniture ended up looking better in this space than it ever did in the house we were in before. Still there have been projects that have needed our attention. First up and the most important was, “What to do with all of our books?” We both have quite a few books and knew a standard bookcase would not do it. Nor would it complement our new space and high ceilings. We quickly realized we would have to do some sort of custom-built in. We both always wanted a full wall with a floor to ceiling bookshelf, but to have that put in was going to cost us quite a few pennies. So I hit Pinterest and searched for a way that we could accomplish the look we needed while not breaking the bank.

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf - The EGGI stumbled on the idea of using plumbing pipe, which not only would look great in our space, it’s also pretty easy to work with so any novice DIY junkie could pull it off. I found a couple of different options that we liked and combined a few different processes to make the most economical bookcase for our needs. See below to see our process and I will let you know along the way the things I like and the things I would do differently the second time around.

Supplies

  • Wood Lumber
  • 3/4 Galvanized Pipe (2 for each shelf plus 4 additional for the top wall connection)
  • 3/4 Flanges (4)
  • 3/4 Elbow Fittings (2)
  • 3/4 Coupling Fitting (2 for each shelf)
  • Wood Stain
  • Miter Saw
  • 7/8 inch Rotary Drill Bit
  • Sand Paper

Directions

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf - The EGG

1. Cut the wood the length you want you shelves to be. Be sure to take into account that the pipe on each side is going to shorten your actual space a bit. Also be sure not to make them too long, because depending on what you are putting on the shelves, you do not want them to bend due to weight.

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf - The EGG

2. Measure 4 inches on each length end and make a mark that is centered width wise. This is where you are going to drill your holes for the pipes. You want the wholes to be big enough for the pipe to slide through but small enough for the stopper to hold the shelf up.

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf - The EGG

3. Sand the cut wood to clean up the edges. Be sure to get rid of all slivers around the areas that were cut. I added a bit of rounding to corners to make them look a little less than perfect. Each one is a little unique, which I like.

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf - The EGG

4. Stain your wood in a well ventilated area. Follow staining directions until you reach your desired color. We did not put any seal on top our stain because the shelves were going indoors and would not be subjected to any weather elements or moisture.

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf - The EGG

5. Once your stain is completely dry you can start building your piece. Start with 2 flanges on the floor. I decided to paint the flanges to match the grey industrial look of the pipe and we also cut a perfect piece of cork to place under the flange so it would not ruin our hardwood floors. You will also want to wipe down all of your pipe before handling it, because it is covered in a greasy residue.

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf - The EGG

6. After you have reached your desired length with the pipe, couplings and wood, use the 2 elbow fittings, 2 short pipes and the flanges to attach the bookcase securely to the wall. Don’t forget to admire the view if your Hubby is helping you.

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf - The EGG

6. Now it’s time to start staging your shelves. I thought this would take me forever,but it actually just all fell into place. Next we are going to have to build complimentary ladder so we can actually reach the high shelves and if we buy anymore books we are going to have to build another bookshelf, because this one has no more room! Looking at this picture I am realizing we also might need a larger mirror. Something that is much more of a statement piece.

NOTES: I am super happy with the shelves. After the brick walls it is my favorite thing about our space. However, if I had to do over again I would make a few adjustments. I might have considered doing the version that does not require holes and each shelf has 4 flanges drilled into it. It may have been a more expensive but it would have made a sturdier shelf. Trust me the shelves we did are sturdy, meaning they definitely are not going anywhere, but when there are no books on the shelf the wood part does wobble a bit back and forth. Nothing falls off, but with the hole down the middle version there is nothing holding it completely steady. So if that is a concern for you I would opt for a different style. Try this one that I found on the Pottery Barn Blog. I wish I would have seen this one before I built mine. I probably also would have not made the 2 really tall shelves. We did a mix of 6, 8, 10, 12 and 18 inch shelves. I think we could have done without the 18 inch. Or at least only incorporated one.

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Comments

  1. I used these instructions to make a bookshelf of my own and I had quite a few problems. The 7/8 rotary bit made the hole only the same diameter as the pipe itself. I still had to use a drum sander adapter on the drill bit to widen the hole just enough to let the pipe pass freely. I would also recommend using off the shelf cut sections of pipe so you can be sure the threading at either end is straight and free of burrs. The tech at Lowes who cut the longer sections of pipe for me had great difficulty operating the machine and I was left with pipe threads with lots of big burrs and large gouges into the pipe itself where the machine clamped onto the pipe. Overall the unit is fairly wobbly and I secured the top shelf to the wall. I used a single section of wood at the bottom of the shelving unit to create a bottom shelf, hoping it would help stabilize the shelving unit. This is my .02. Thanks for the post, it put the idea into my head to make a shelving unit. I wouldn’t do it again though.

    • Jennifer thank you for your feedback. I am not sure why you cut the pipe. We used the different sizes they had a available with no need to have anything cut. You also may have used a different diameter pipe. I do agree that the shelf does have some movement to it, but after adding the weight of the books and securing to the wall it is not a worry or a bother. I have thought of adding some sort of rubber ring for the individual shelves to rest on. But yes, if I had to do over again I would have adjusted the design a bit. I would love to see your finished product. I hope you enjoy it considering some of your concerns.

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