“How to Guide” for building modern industrial shelves

Finished modern industrial shelvesI’ve noticed the industrial modern shelves in many of our local restaurants and I think it’s so cool.  I wanted to give it a try even though my house is far from what you would call modern or industrial.  Our office has limited space and pretty much two of everything, including two printers.  So we decided on office shelves, which gave us the ability to customize the needed height of shelves (for the printers) and flexibility (lightswitch access/cords hidden/etc.).  Even though this wasn’t quite as budget friendly as most of my projects (coming in right at $250), it’s one of my favorites.

Deciding on materials:

  • There’s three options for your hardware-plumbing pipes (consider ordering at for cost savings):A closer look at the phlanges and wall connections
    • Galvanized, which will look far more silver
    • Black Steel (shown here)
    • Copper – if you decide on copper you will need to solder the connections together, this would be much cheaper but more labor intensive
  • Wood for shelves
    • Size of shelves compared to the size of your pipe, here the shelve extend over the pipe about 3 inches
    • Type of wood
    • Type/Color of stain
    • How many shelves (if I didn’t need the storage, I would have opted out of the top shelf…a plant would look great here with the metal hardware on the sides)

Step by Step

  • Design – here we used pipe that came in 1 ft increments, and 2 ft for the height between shelves for the printers.  But if we had gone with 18 inch increments, we would not have needed the 1 inch round drill bit for cutting the round holes in the front of each shelf, to accomodate for the overhang.  We used 16 in. boards(depth), measured to the desired width of shelfStained wood shelves (42 in.), and with all four shelves and a 2 ft opening for the printer shelf, the height ended up right around 6 ft.
  • Cut, Sand, and Stain  – I used a stain/polyurathane combo product.  This saves time but you have to be sure to stir often or you will get a real thick layer at the bottom of your can, which will be much darker.  I also did two coats and sanded lightly with a hand sander between coats.  To make the bottom four shelves lie completely flat, we had to add 1 inch thick blocks at the back underside of each shelf because of the size of the pipe fitting on the front.

Pic of edge of shelf and how it lays on the pipe

  • Assemble – we took a layer by layer approach, because it was hard to tell exactly where the holes for the fitting on the wall were going to be once assembled.  We did not drill holes to attach the fittings to the hardwood floor because the shelf was stable with the wall fitting alone.  For each wall fitting, we used two screws with plastic anchors or directly to the studs.

Step one for assembly...start at the bottome

Continue adding shelvesStep two and three, continue to add pipes and shelves


"How to Guide" for building modern industrial shelves
Article Name
"How to Guide" for building modern industrial shelves
An easy guide for building your own shelving unit with plumbing pipes and wood.
Publisher Name
Flawless Chaos
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