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  • Writer's pictureBrian McKinnon

Gas Pipe Industrial Wall Shelves

Updated: Jan 18, 2022


We were looking for ideas for shelves or an entertainment center around our living room TV. I couldn't find anything I was in love with, but I did see a picture of some small industrial shelves online that I thought were pretty cool. I decided to try my hand at designing and making my own. We love how the industrial look turned out.

Materials:

Painter's tape

1x6 boards

1/2 inch wall flanges

1/2 inch x 1/2 inch 90 degree elbows

1/2 inch x 1/2 inch tee fittings

1/2 inch x 1/2 inch cap fittings

1/2 inch x 1/2 inch nipple fittings

1/2 inch x 1/2 inch coupling fittings

1/2 inch iron pipes of various sizes

Metallic spray paint - Rustoleum Metallic Dark Night

Wood stain - Minwax Dark Walnut

Polycrylic

Screws - 1-1/2" drywall screws


Tools:

Stud finder

Screwdriver

Level

Saw

Spade or auger bit

 

Preparation


Find your studs and mark them with pieces of painters tape. This will help visualize where the shelves will need to be anchored, and is an great way of keeping track of the stud locations without marking up the wall.

Figure out approximately where you want the shelves to go. I did this by creating "mock" shelves using lines of painter's tape on the wall around my TV.

Get creative!


Have lots of spare pipes in different lengths available (I recommend in 1/2 inch increments) to mix and match to get the best fit and look. You also want to have more nipples, caps, tee fittings, elbows and couplings than you think you actually need. You can always return whatever you don't use!


Note: The following pictures were taken after completion of the project, so the pipes and shelves are already painted and stained. I don't recommend painting and staining until everything is dry fit to your liking first!

 

Pipe Installation


Each board will need at least three points of contact (four for longer boards). The wide rims of the couplings provide the support for the boards to rest on.


The anchor point for the whole system is the flange. It is what connects all the shelves and piping to the wall. Picking the starting point for the flanges depends on how much pipe you want to see below the shelves. Ultimately this decision is up to you, and in this application, pinpoint accuracy isn't necessarily needed. Getting the best fit is a matter of swapping out lengths of pipe, and minor adjustments may be made by tightening and loosening the fittings.


The flanges should be screwed into the studs. I used the top an bottom holes to accomplish this, and didn't bother adding screws to the sides as they would just add more holes in the wall without adding any support. We used regular drywall screws here since they are black and will blend in with the final product. If you want to use a flange in a location without a stud, drywall anchors must be used.

Basic buildout for a two point support:

Note that in the picture below, the front pipe will pass through the board and continue upwards to connect to another shelf above it.

Basic buildout for a single point support (not recommended for longer shelves or where you plan on placing anything heavy):

In the photo above, we have three points of contact at the top of the couplings. At this point, we are ready to fit the shelf.


Basic buildout for a hanging support (two points per side recommended):

 

Shelf Fitting


Once the pipes are in place, we are ready to fit the shelves.


Now is a good time to cut your boards to length. Any kind of saw will work here, and you don't need to be precise with the cuts. As long as you leave a couple of inches on the edge beyond the pipes.


Using a pencil or chalk, mark the location where the pipe will penetrate the shelf.

Use a spade or auger bit to make a clean hole through the board. I found that a 7/8" bit creates a perfect hole size for 1/2" iron pipe.

Fit the boards onto the pipes and secure them into place with end caps.

 

Staining, Painting, and Finishing


Finishing your shelves will depend on your desired look. We chose a dark stain to match the rest of our living room furniture. Painting can be just as effective, and is often more forgiving. Different types of wood vary in how they will take the stain. I always suggest trying it out on a scrap piece to see how it looks first!


Follow the directions on the can of stain or paint to apply. I used two coats of Minwax Dark Walnut applied by dipping a clean rag into the can and rubbing it onto the board. You can certainly use a paintbrush, just make sure to wipe off the excess stain before it dries.


Once the stain has properly dried, I applied a protective layer of Polycrylic to keep them looking good for years to come. I like using Polycrylic over Polyurethane because the former is less toxic (less VOC's and flammability). Having multiple kids and pets in the house, I will always choose the safest option. Lightly sanding with 220 grit paper between coats provides a smooth, factory-like finish.


The pipes will need to be disassembled to be painted. When removing them, it's best to keep everything as organized as possible. Using sticky notes with a number system can help ensure each piece goes back where it belongs. It might be tedious, but worth the trouble not having to play the "crap, where did this one go" game. Taking pictures as you go will also help greatly.


Although the pipes themselves are a darker iron color, their store-bought state is a little unsightly. We used Rust-Oleum Metallic in Black Night to give them a clean look. The instructions on the back of the can recommends a primer, but we chose to skip that. Two coats should be sufficient here, and once they are dry, they're ready to assemble!

 

Reassembly


Take your time when re-assembling the pipes to make sure everything is going in the right place. Nothing is worse than getting halfway done only to realize you placed something in the wrong spot and have to start over. We kept our tape mock-ups in place until the final installation to make sure everything was right where we wanted it.


Small adjustments can be made on the pipes by tightening/loosening couplings to level the boards

Put caps on all exposed nipples

Done!

Thank you for checking out this project. We had a lot of fun designing and building it, and receive compliments from nearly everyone who sees them! We'd love to hear any creative suggestions and ideas to make this project even better, so feel free to drop a comment!

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