Friday, June 20, 2014

Pipe & Plank Bookshelf

To house the collection of books we've amassed, we went a bit funky and designed a pipe and wood plank bookshelf. I wanted it to be rustic so I didn't paint the pipes or finish the planks with any kind of sealer. That avoided a few timely steps(hooray!!!), but this was still a lengthy build. The wood planks took a couple of days prep work. We cut to exact length, drilled the holes for the pipe, sanded, and stained. There are seven 13ft long planks. And lots and lots of pipe. We had to go tho three different Lowe's and one Home Depot in order to get enough pipes. We used the black gas pipes except for the floor and wall flanges which are galvanized pipe-they don't sell a gas pipe flange. The final size turned out to be 13 feet wide by just over 10 feet tall. A bit taller than what we first planned, but I like the look of an empty top shelf and we needed all the other shelves to hold all the books.

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The wood planks were from Lowe's.

 The pipes are the 3/4" so the holes had to be 1 1/8" in diameter so the pipe would fit through the hole, but (VERY IMPORTANT!) the tees would not.

pipes for building a bookshelf

All of the pipes were standard sizes except for the shelf's top 6 pipes that went to the wall flange. Those turned out to be a weird length. We had Home Depot cut and thread to size.




As is typical.....this took much longer to put together than we thought and we ended up making a mid-build trip to the hardware store for unexpected missing/needed parts.

First row leaning against a box to protect the wall. We built it in place because we knew that once it was built it would be too heavy to move.

The bottom two vertical pipes are 18" tall and then the rest are 12"

 Gas pipes are DIRTY!

Done building, but not attached to the wall. You can see that because the wood planks are not perfectly straight and flat (they never are) they don't sit on all of the elbows. After they were loaded with the weight of the books, they all flattened out and are straight and resting on the elbows.

It is still leaning against the cardboard box to protect the wall.

 To attach to the wall we used drywall anchors (the studs did not line up with the flanges). The screw heads that come with the anchors were too small to hold the flange so we had to add washers.

drywall anchor

galvanized flange

building a pipe bookshelf

The wood shelves are about an inch away from the wall

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pipe bookshelf, industrial bookshelf, wood and pipe bookshelf

The floor flanges are not fastened to the floor.

Below is a better visual of the dimensions:

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The finished shelves:

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pipe bookshelves, diy bookshelves

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Now we're on to closet shelving...
Nothing stylish, just functional.


  1. I've been reading your blog for a while now. I love every single post you make! I love your style!

    1. Thank you for your nice comment. It made my day!!

  2. Amazing shelves! Incredibly original. I've never seen anything like it, congratulations! Your living room looks deliciously cozy.

  3. Thank you for your step by step! Do you remember approx how much you spent on materials for this? Thank you! It looks wonderful.

    1. Hi Aubrey. Sorry so late to reply, I didn't see your comment!! It cost about $900. The big expense was the pipes :(
      You could save money by having fewer shelves.....because it's the tees and the elbows that add up $$$. OR you could use less vertical sections of pipe than we used and still have it be strong enough. All my books are super heavy and I didn't want the wood to bow.... that's why they're 30" apart. But you could space the vertical sections further apart, especially if it doesn't have to support a lot of weight.

  4. Thank you for getting back to me! I appreciate the details. Thanks again for such a great article. We're planning on starting this project soon and will definitely use your guidance.

  5. Awesome shelves! Have you had any issues with the flanges not being secured to the floor?

    1. Thanks for the compliment R.C.!!!
      Nope. It looks exactly the same today as it did eight months ago.

  6. Looks great! I how deep are the shelves?

  7. I think you made a great job. I wanna build my own asap. But can i ask the deep and diameter of your plank?

  8. I am thinking about doing something similar in my kids playroom... you stated the planks were 13 feet long, how deep were they?? Thanks in advanced!- Liz

  9. The wood planks are 13 feet long 1 3/4 inches thick and 11 inches deep. The holes for the pipes were drilled 1 1/4 inches in from the front edge.

  10. I saw your book shelves in Better Homes and Gardens magazine! Awesome!
    Smiles, Cyndi

    1. oh wow I had no idea! Thanks so much for letting me know!!

  11. What thickness are the boards you used? We are doing something similar and I want to make sure we choose strong boards. How has it held up the past 4 years? Thank you!!

  12. I have just built mine after finding your post and absolutely loving it - thanks a lot for the inspiration and instructions.

    I don't know if I'll be able to explain clearly but I have a question. My construction is 7 feet high and secured to the wall so it is not as tall as yours. Although the unit seems sturdy to carry thetvertical load (the weight), there's some amount of flex when I pull the center part of the pipe construct outwards. Wall flanges are keeping the unit in place but there's still this flex when I try to pull the unit off the wall. Have you anchored your shelves at any mid height points to the wall at the back? Or do you have the same flex too?

    1. i don't have mine anchored anywhere else besides the top. it flexes if i pull on it, but not otherwise and it hasn't flexed away from the wall over time either. if you have kids that you think may climb on it you may want to fasten it in the middle...

  13. Hi,
    I find your work very nice. I juste have a question concerning the holes. You said that the holes for the pipes were drilled 1 1/4 inches in from the front edge. Does it indicate that the center of the holes were 1 1/4 inches from the front or does it indicate that it was1 1/4 inches from edge to edge.
    Kind regards

    1. Not the center of the hole, 1 1/4 inches from edge to edge

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