Sunday, March 24, 2013

Industrial Bookshelf

Since last fall, we've focused most of our attention on the office.  Deanne put together an inspiration board, we repainted the walls, patched the ceiling, replaced all of the baseboards, window casings, and door casings, built a desk, hung curtains, and refinished a desk chair.  We're slowly but surely making our way down the checklist.

A while back we watched an episode on HGTV where they built a shelving unit out of galvanized metal pipes and we've been itching to give it a try ever since.  Our office has a long empty wall so we thought this would be the perfect place to put our very own bookshelf.  

We started by gathering the wood.  I explained the project to my grandpa and although I'm not sure that he could quite envision what we were building (or why we would want to build anything out of galvanized pipes); he said he might have some wood that would work.  We drove around the Burg to search through his various stockpiles for some pieces that would work for this project.

He and my dad rough cut the wood to length (so it would fit in the car) and brought it to our house the next time they were in town.  The planks are roughly 1" x 10" x 6'.  We wanted the wood to look rustic so we really like that you can see all of the saw marks and imperfections.  Once we had the wood, I cut each piece to the exact same size.  From there we stained with our favorite shade (Minwax Special Walnut) and applied two coats of poly.


With the wood ready to go, we moved on to the metal pieces.  We decided that 12" long 1/2 inch galvanized pipe and matching pipe flanges would give us the shelf spacing and strength that we needed.  We priced everything out and found that the pipe was cheapest at Menards and the flanges were cheapest online at Ron's Home & Hardware.  We ended up needing 24 pipes and 48 flanges.  The flanges took 4 screws each so if you're trying this, make sure you buy enough screws.  The 50 pack that we initially bought didn't get us very far.  Lastly, Deanne had the idea to put the shelf on wheels so we bought 6 industrial-looking casters at Menards.

With everything ready to go, we started building.  We knew that this thing was going to be heavy so we thought our best bet would be building it it place.  We started by attaching the wheels to the bottom shelf and simply worked our way up.  This part wasn't difficult but it took a while between pre-drilling the holes and cleaning the galvanized pipe.  We found the best way of cleaning the pipes was rubbing them down with cotton balls soaked in mineral spirits.

The whole project went pretty smoothly but we did run into some problems with the wood being warped and with the pipe threads being slightly crooked.  All things considered, we're very happy with how it turned out.  The only thing left to do is attach it to the wall.  Considering how heavy this thing is, we don't want to take any chances with it toppling over onto anyone.

So here's where we stand with our checklist for the office:
  • Clear out room
  • Remove baseboards, window trim, and door trim,
  • Replace power outlets
  • Fill nail holes
  • Patch ceiling
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint walls 
  • Hang new Baseboards
  • Hang new window / door trim
  • Fill nail holes (in the trim)
  • Paint trim
  • Caulk trim
  • Replace light fixture
  • Finish Desk
  • Re-finish new (to us) desk chair
  • Build shelving unit 
  • Convince Deanne to let me put a TV in this room
Aside from convincing Deanne to let me put a TV in there, we just have a bookshelf to decorate and a few things to hang on the wall before we're all done with this room!  



  1. While the bookshelf is seriously awesome, I think the pic of grandpa is my favorite part of this post. Adorable.

    1. Hahaha, isn't he adorable?! Thanks for stopping by!! :)

  2. This is great. I've actually never seen a stand alone bookshelf like this (only the ones built right off the wall). I think I like this much better since I'd like to take it with when we move (and not have to disassemble or patch drywall holes). I'm new to your blog, btw, and I am pretty sure you're the only other blogger to mention Menards (so you must be relatively close to me). I <3 them and now I <3 you. ~ Dee

    1. Exactly! We also built it stand alone so we could move it room to room-- although after building it we realize that will be easier said than done! Haha And seriously, we spend way too much time & money at Menards. Thanks for stopping by, can't wait to check out your blog!

    2. Find me on FB too - you really ARE close by! :)

  3. wow, wow, wow! Seriously amazing project! I love it! Thanks so much for linking this up to Monday Funday!

    Kelly @ View Along the Way

    1. Thank you Kelly, and thanks for hosting!! Reed and I are obsessed with your dodecahedron light!!! I am currently trying to figure out where we could put one in our house and Reed is trying to figure out how soon he can start making one. :) Thanks for stopping by!!

  4. that's awesome! can't wait to see how you style this.

    1. Thank you thank you!! We will be posting about the bookshelf decorating soon, just working on some last minute additions :)

  5. This looks like a great project, how did you end up attaching it to the wall/drywall? Thanks for the help!

  6. Hey guys! Your projects are all awesome. I think I'm going to build this bookcase for mine and Liz's new apartment. What size screws did you use? I think I'm only going to do 3 shelves instead of 5. Our second bedroom/office isn't that big.


    1. Hey Rob! Thanks for the comment! We used 3/4 in screws (buy a bunch, we flew through them). Also, make sure the wood you use is not warped in any way (we had a few boards that weren't perfectly flat and it made this project a little more complicated than it needed to be). Good luck & we can't wait to see how it turns out!

  7. How much was the total cost to build this shelving unit? Love your blog.

  8. how did you attach it to the wall?