November 3, 2011

Plumbing Pipe Bookshelf

Matt and i bought a house together in 2008, about 6 months before we got engaged. (how's that for coy?) since then, i have slowly been sucked into the online void of home decor websites and blogs. one of my favorites is The Brick House. her style is spare, modern, and desert-y. it's not exactly what i want my house to look like, but i appreciate her aesthetic, sense of humor, thrifting/Craigslisting skills, and DIY gusto.

back in 2009, she posted about a wall unit she made out of plumbing pipe, and my proverbial jaw dropped. what a cool, cool idea. she got inspiration from the Ace Hotel and wrote up a little tutorial for anyone else brazen enough to stride into the plumbing aisle at Home Depot for home decor purposes. (after i told the sweet Somali employee who custom cut my pipes what i was making, he smiled and said, "i didn't think you were a plumber!")

so after months of looking at her shelves, seeing a few other examples online, and determining that building one of these in our dining room would not, in fact, make the room look totally schizophrenic, we decided to go for it.

i'm pretty sure this bookshelf is cooler than me.

this project was relatively simple, as long as you aren't afraid of math. instead of going with an exact replica of a unit someone else had made, i decided to design ours to perfectly fit the wall space in our dining room. this required a lot of specific, precise calculations, and triple checking our list of pipes and fittings to buy. even then, our initial Home Depot run (one of several) lasted over an hour and we left feeling pretty exhausted. the materials sat in our basement for several weeks before i regained enough motivation to get going, already. the posts i found online were immensely helpful, so i defer to them (especially this one) if you're looking to make your own. but if you want to replicate ours exactly, here's the specs and supplies list.

Our particular unit is 6' wide, 7' 3" tall, and the shelves are 12" deep.

6 – 1″x12″x6′ pine planks

pipes and fittings:
All pipes and fittings are 1/2″. i don't think it matters whether you use galvanized or black steel. we used galvanized because that seems to be what most people did.

27 – 90° elbows
21 – 3-way tees
8 – base flanges

4 – 5″ pipes (i think)
22 – 8″ pipes
4 – 9″ pipes (custom cut)
20 – 12″ pipes
1 – 25.5″ pipe (custom cut)

2 cans Rustoleum Spray Paint – Black Gloss
1 can Minwax Wood Stain – Dark Walnut (first coat)
1 can Minwax Wood Stain – Red Mahogany (we wanted our shelves a little redder, so we did a second coat with this)
1 can Minwax Polyurethane

7/8" drill bit (we originally bought a 3/4" bit but it was too small)
150 (sanding before stain) and 220 (sanding between coats of poly) grit sandpaper
2" brushes (bristle and foam)
16 anchors and screws
4 – 3" diameter round felt pads to go under the bottom base flanges
other things we used but already owned: skill saw, power drill, saw horses, lots of rags, ladder, level

- wash the pipes/fittings with dish soap
- spray paint them black (2 light coats and some touch ups)
- cut the smaller shelf to 26" long and drill holes into the shelves
- sand them with 150 grit sandpaper (always with the grain)
- 2 coats of stain with a day or two in between to dry (brush with the grain as well)
- 1 coat of poly
- lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper
- second coat of poly
- bring it all inside and put it together from the ground up
- make sure it's all level and then secure to wall with anchors and screws

the only problem is now i want to make everything out of plumbing pipe: coffee table, side table, bed frame, towel bars, etc. the list goes on and on...


Cheryl said...

OMG!! It's gorgeous! You are soooo talented! Does the pipe come black or did you have to paint it?

Anonymous said...

I am sooo impressed! Mom

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