DIY Industrial Pipe Open Shelving

When we bought our house in May 2015, taking down this particular kitchen cabinet and replacing it with open shelves was one of the first things I wanted to do. Unfortunately, it took a back burner because we decided to completely remodel the kitchen with new cabinets, appliances, counters, etc. down the road... and so the cabinet stayed.

diy industrial pipe open shelving

Even though it housed my overflowing mug collection, the cabinet was also heavy, clunky and dull. I wanted to tear it off the wall every time I looked at it.

And so I did.

diy industrial pipe open shelving

Because sometimes a little improvement while waiting for the big remodel is so worth it. Because now I have a lovely place to display the gorgeous cake stand I received for Christmas. Because this little investment of time and money brings a smile to my face every time I look at it.

So worth it.

If you've been considering adding some open shelves to your home, here's what you'll need to get started:

  • 3/4" black iron cap (x4)
  • 3/4" floor flange (x4)
  • 3/4" x 5' black iron pipe (cut to size and threaded)
  • 1" x 12" x 6' poplar board or wooden planks (cut to size)
  • #12 x 1-1/4" flathead wood screws (x16) and wall anchors (x8)
  • black spray paint
  • tools: level / drill / tape measure / stud finder
  • optional: wood stain / polyurethane/ bag of 3/4" pipe straps

STEP 1. Cut and stain shelves: I cut a 6' piece of poplar into (2) two 26-1/2" planks for the shelves. I chose poplar simply because I liked the grain, so feel free to use reclaimed wood or something else based on your own preference.

Stain and treat with poly, if desired. In my case, I stained them in dark walnut and applied three coats of spray poly in a satin finish.

STEP 2. Cut and clean pipes: My husband works with metal for a living so he happily obliged to cut and thread the pipe into (4) four 12-1/4" pieces for the brackets. I wanted the planks to sit neatly on the pipe with very little wiggle room, so he gave the pipes a 1" thread allowance.

Don't fret if you can't DIY this part -- Lowe's or Home Depot can cut and thread the pipes for you.

diy industrial pipe open shelving

Black iron pipes are grimy and sticky so give them a good wipe down with mineral spirits.

STEP 3. Assemble pipe brackets: Screw a cap onto one end of the pipe and a flange onto the other. Tighten the fittings onto the pipe so that each bracket is the same length. Some will require a bit more muscle than others given the pipe's tapered threads.

diy industrial pipe open shelving

STEP 4. Paint pipe brackets: For a uniform look, spray paint all the pipe pieces. I gave them all 2-3 coats of black spray paint with a gloss finish.

diy industrial pipe open shelving

Here's a tip: Poke screws into a strip of painter's tape to spray paint the heads. If the paint chips away during installation, just spray a glob of paint onto a piece of cardboard and touch up with a brush. Or use a black Sharpie.

STEP 5. Mount pipe brackets to the wall: For stable and sturdy shelves, aim to drive at least the top and bottom screws of each flange into a stud.

First, locate and mark the wall studs. Next, align the center of each flange with the studs and mark the proper placement of each of the four screws. Drill a pilot hole and insert a drywall anchor into the left and right holes of the flange.

Drive a flathead wood screw into the top and bottom holes of the flange through the drywall and into the stud. Screw the left and right screws into the anchors by hand. Ensure the shelves will lay straight and even by placing a level between the pipe brackets and adjusting accordingly. Repeat for the next shelf.

diy industrial pipe open shelving

We faced a bit of a challenge in our little fixer upper that involved beefing up the stud to ensure the shelves would hold the weight of my stand mixer. You can read more about that by clicking the link below.

We also had a pipe that was slightly askew, so here's a tip to achieve level: add a washer {or two} behind the corresponding flange hole. The washer isn't at all noticeable and gives the nudge you need for a perfectly horizontal shelf.

You can further secure the shelves by installing pipe clamps.

diy industrial pipe open shelving

The metal pipes and fittings are such a clever repurpose -- instantly adding interest to any space. The wood planks add a rustic charm, and the open shelving is beautiful and functional. I'm in love. How about you?

diy industrial pipe open shelving

For more DIY projects like this, please visit the blog. I invite you to subscribe to the newsletter, where you'll receive creative inspiration for crafts, home improvements, recipes and more directly to your inbox. Thanks for reading! -- v.

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Vernichel // created by v.

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 10 questions
  • Jackie
    on Jul 21, 2018

    Don't you think the mixer is a bit too heavy to lift to the upper shelf? I am not that strong and would have to have someone else put it up that high for me! I would keep it on the counter.

    • To free up valuable counter space, I keep the mixer on the upper shelf when it's not in use -- that's how sturdy the shelves are! It's fine for me to lift it down when I need it, but I certainly understand the danger for someone who cannot. During the holidays, it sits on the counter because I use it a lot more often.

  • Debra Ridley Hurst
    on Jul 21, 2018

    I love it and why didn't they have all the great colors for Kitchen Aids when I bought mine??

  • Kate Lorenzen
    on Jul 22, 2018

    So where did you put your mug collection?

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