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How to: Black pipe shelving

When my design supplies are organized, I’m way more likely to want to make things. So setting up a proper shelving system in my design studio was a must. And since the majority of the materials on the shelves were upcycled materials just waiting to be turned into something new, I couldn’t use all new materials for the shelves themselves.


A visit to Big Reuse in Queens inspired the salvaged picnic table wood for the shelves. It was thick and cheap and had a whole lot of character. Since you can’t always find an exact match in salvaged materials, you can always replace the wood with a similar size from a wood shop or hardware store. I always encourage salvaged whenever possible! Feel free to size your shelving up or down as it fits your space. The way I designed these shelves, they sit about 4” from the wall. If you prefer you can adjust the spacer on top flange so that it’s flush against your wall. The overall size of this unit measures 93” x 17” 56”, with three shelves 11” tall and four shelves 9” tall. Adjust to fit your space accordingly.


16 black pipes 12” long

16 black pipes 10” long

2 black pipes 4” long

2 black pipes 8” long

6 flanges ½”

2 black pipe elbows ½”

2 black pipe tees ½”

28 couplings ½”

7 finished wood shelves 56” x 12” x 1”

a few screws




tape measure

drill or drill press

small drill bit

1” drill bit

work gloves

Take one of the wood shelves and mark a hole in each corner 1 ½” in from each edge. Drill a starter hole and then a hole using a 1” drill bit in each of the corners. Repeat this for all 7 shelves.

Wear work gloves whenever you’re handling the black pipe. Attach flanges to four 12” pipes. Then attach couplings to the top of each pipe. If you plan to have items on your shelf touching the black pipe, coat with a light spray of clear enamel.

Attach a 10” pipe into each of the couplings.

Place one shelf on top the four pipes with the flanges on the floor and the shelf resting on the coupling. The 10” pipe will come out the top of shelf­­. Don’t worry if it’s not stable at this stage. Adding the other shelves will stabilize your unit.

Add another coupling and a 12” pipe to the top of each of the pipe shelving legs. Place another shelf on top of these pipes.

Continue adding couplings, pipes, and shelves until all of your shelves are in place. Alternate between sets of 10” pipes and 12” pipes.

At the top of your shelving add the black pipe tees to the top of the two pieces closest to the wall. Screw in the 8” pipe to this piece.

At the top of your shelving add the black pipe tees to the top of the two pieces closest to the wall. Screw in the 8” pipe to this piece.

Screw the 4” spacer pipe into the other side of the tee. Add the flange to the end of the spacer. Repeat for the other side. This pipe will have your shelving unit sit about 4” from the wall. Adjust accordingly if you would like your shelves flush against the wall.

Move your shelving unit into place. Screw the flange into the wall. Your shelves are ready to take on some organizing!

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