Finally Got My Salvaged Wood & Pipe Shelves

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I’ve been leaning more and more towards the industrial look lately.  I should probably blame that on restoration hardware, their latest catalogue had some really interesting stuff. I wouldn’t want an entire house full of steel and wood, but I think bringing in a few industrial pieces might look good without going too far.

One of the first things that pops into my mind when I think industrial is pipe decor. I’ve been wanting to build pipe shelves since I saw that gorgeous salvaged wood and pipe bookshelf on the High Low Project.

We recently got a piece of salvaged wood (well, actually we did the salvaging, actually more like dumpster diving).  My in-laws are remodeling their house and have a huge construction bin in their driveway. Every time we visit I take a peak inside to see what I can find.

The wood piece is pretty narrow (only 8 inches wide) so it’s a perfect fit for our tiny entry.  Right now the entry’s kinda boring and that poor plant desperately needs to go outside, which will then eliminate the need for a plant stand. The space is going to become even more barren. There’s not enough space for a lot in there, so I think floating pipe shelves will fit the bill.

front entry before

Buying the pipe

So I looked at all the pipe shelves I could find online to see how they were put together and attached to the wall. Most of what I found had ‘legs’ that went down to the ground.  Each shelf was connected by pipe to the other and the pipe went through the wood shelves…like the one below:

bathroom pipe shelvesSource

None of this was what I wanted. I wanted the whole thing to look like it was floating, didn’t want to have to make a hole in the wood and wanted each shelf to be separate.

I figured out what I wanted and how much pipe I would need. I made my list of the pipe pieces I was going to buy, easy right? It was full speed ahead.

That is, until….I went to Home Depot and saw the price of the pipes. Hello! What is stuff made out of, gold?  My pipe dreams were busted. This thing was going to cost an arm and a leg.

I went back to the drawing board and modified my shelf to use the least amount of pipe possible.

I also remembered there was a small old timey hardware store a few miles away that I had been to once. Not only is this place a hardware store it’s also a feed store with live caged roosters, chickens and pigeons inside the store.

It was gross really, there was a fine dust over everything, which I’m pretty sure was rooster/pigeon poop. But the parts were almost half the price of Home Depot.

Home depot price $68

Hardware store Price $44

Kind of a big difference, huh?

So my tip for the day, children, is: If something is too expensive at Home depot try finding it at a mom & pop store, you may just be surprised at the price.

Here are the three pieces I opted for (all galvanized):

3/4″ flange $5.95

3/4″ nipple x 8″ $3.93

3/4″ elbow $1.49

*I got 3/4″ because that’s all they had at the small hardware store. But if you buy 1/2″ it will be a little cheaper.

pipe shelf parts labelled

***Very important tip: For some reason the nipple does not screw all the way into the flange and elbow. When you go to buy the pieces, put them together and measure the distance in between to see if the width of your shelf will fit.***

Hanging the pipe shelves

I basically found the height I wanted to hang the pipe shelves at and the exact location for the pipe and marked that on the wall. I then got my trusty laser level and made sure my marks were level.

marking wall for shelves

I checked for studs but unfortunately they weren’t where they were supposed to be, so my pipes would have to be anchored into the drywall instead.

I marked my holes on the wall with the flange, drilled my holes and inserted the anchors.  Since I wanted this thing to be pretty secure I used the largest screws that would fit in the flange holes with their corresponding (green) anchors.

placing anchors for pipe shelf

All that was left was to screw the flange to the wall and put the pipe pieces together.

installing pipe shelf to wall

Here you can see how the nipple doesn’t screw all the way into the flange and elbow.

pipe shelf bracket

Preparing the salvaged wood:

First thing I did was cut the wood down to the length I needed.

cutting salvaged wood

Since the wood came from the dumpster it was covered in grime and had some grout stuck on it. I sanded each piece down a bit to take off the top layer. To get the stubborn grout off I used a metal spatula and scraped the hell out of them.

cleaning salvaged wood shelf

Last but not least I took a brillo pad and scrubbed and scrubbed until all the grout and grime residue was gone.

cleaning salvaged wood

I’m not a big fan of staining wood, I kinda like it in its natural state so I was just going to use a finishing paste on the wood. But I didn’t want to spend any more money on these shelves, the pipes had already cost way more than I expected. So I got the brilliant idea to use teak oil, which I already had.

I’ve used teak oil before on our patio table, which reminds me, I gotta give it a couple of coats soon (it’s looking pretty ragged). So I didn’t give it a second thought.

Oh boy does that stuff stink!!!

It’s been three days since I finished the pipe shelves and they still stink. I left them out overnight and just brought them in long enough to take some photos. And out they went again.

The only thing that kinda bothered me was that the elbow wasn’t capped, that’s a perfect spot for dust to collect. Plus it just looked unfinished.

open elbow on pipe shelves

We got these 3/4″ plugs (at Home depot this time) and problem solved.

pipe shelves with pipe plug

I’m hoping I can bring them in soon…

Should have used the finishing paste.

Cost Breakdown

flange $5.95 x4

nipple $3.93 x4

elbow $1.49 x4

plug 2.36

wood free

teak oil free

anchors & screws $2.00

Total cost of shelves $58

*If you can’t find reclaimed wood, you could totally fake it. Just buy your wood and distress it by banging it with a hammer or heavy chain.

It’s more than I expected to spend (before I knew how expensive pipe was) but I finally got my pipe shelves and I really love how they came out.

Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. Next time I’ll show you how they look installed and styled.

Update: Check them out, here.


Finally Got My Salvaged Wood & Pipe Shelves — 8 Comments

  1. Like the shelves. If you are interested in more pipe style stuff, I would suggest going online to a place like They have horrible customer service but their prices are less than a quarter of Home Depot’s for pipe. To give you an example, a floor flange from home depot is around 4.50 or 5 something like you paid, but on this site it is only 1.44. Hope this helps

    • Actually the flanges we saw were around $9 at HD, which is nuts. Thanks so much for the tip. I was thinking of making a curtain rod for our super long sliding glass doors in the future. So I will definitley be checking them out.

  2. I was curious: Are your shelves just resting on the pipes, or did you attach them somehow? I was thinking of doing something like this, but would be worried that the shelves would be bumped out of place…

    • Hi Wil. Yes, they are just resting on top of the pipes. My shelves are small and in an out of the way spot, so I’m not too worried about them being knocked over. When researching how to build them I did see some that were attached to the pipes. They didn’t have any building instructions, but it looked like the pipe in front went through the wood instead of being in front of the shelve like mine. You would have to drill a hole through the wood to fit the pipe.

  3. I know this post is about your shelves, which are gorgeous, but I am wondering how you created your floating shelf for your sink? We are in the process of doing something similar right now, so any words of advice would be much appreciated!

    • Hi Suzan, that’s actually a project I found on apartment therapy. I was showing the shelves above the toilet, but the sink shelf is pretty cool. They only have the tutorial for the pipes shelves, but i’m sure if you google diy floating sink or vanity you can probably find something.
      Good luck and hanks for stopping by 🙂