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Create Rustic Shelves with Galvanized Pipe

In Episode 6 of The Weekender, we step beyond basic storage and organization with this stylish shelving idea. Chunky wood and galvanized pipe sections combine for a simple do-it-yourself project that gives rustic shelves an industrial touch.

See a new episode and project each week

Shelving Idea: Rustic Wooden Shelf with Galvanized Pipe.

Sizing and Installing the Shelf

These instructions describe installation of a single shelf with two pipe assemblies for support. If you install additional shelves above or below it, space them to allow room for the items you plan to display. Use the measurements and marks you make for the first shelf to help align the supports for additional shelves.

Step 1

Cut a 2 x 10 board to the desired length for your shelf. Size the board so you can mount the supporting pipe segments on wall studs. Interior studs are typically spaced 16 inches from center to center. An inch or two of overhang on each end of the board makes the shelf more stable, so for a shelf that uses two support pipes, cut the board to 17 to 19 inches in length. Longer shelves may require additional supports.

Step 2

Sand the board and finish it with your choice of interior wood stain. You can also try an aged finish. Read Artfully Aged Wood Finishes to see several options. Allow the stain to dry.

Good to Know

Sand first with 120-grit sandpaper and finish with a finer grit, such as 180. Read our Sandpaper Buying Guide to learn about types of sandpaper.

Step 3

Locate two wall studs to support the shelf. Just above the desired height of the shelf, apply a strip of painter's tape to the wall, spanning the studs. Mark the edges of the studs on the tape. See How to Find Studs in Walls for details on locating studs.

Step 4

Subtract 1-1/2 inch from the desired height of the shelf (to account for the thickness of the board) and lightly mark this height on the wall over a stud. Use a straightedge and a level to transfer the mark to the second stud. These marks will help you align the supports.

Step 5

Mark the mounting locations for the two support pipe assemblies. Place a floor flange on the wall, aligning two of the screw holes vertically over the stud, with the top of the center hole touching the mark. Mark all of the screw holes on the wall. Repeat the process with the other flange at the second mark. Use the level and straightedge to verify that the marks for the topmost screw holes are level.

Step 6

Drill pilot holes at the screw hole locations over studs. Install wall anchors at those not positioned over a stud. Make sure the anchors are suitable for your screws and can support the weight of the shelf, the pipe supports and the items you plan to display. Note that power cables and other utilities might run behind your wall.

Watch our DIY Basics videos:

What's Inside My Wall?

How Do I Drill a Pilot Hole?

How Do I Use Drywall Anchors?

Step 7

Screw one threaded end of each pipe section into a flange and screw a cap onto the opposite end. You can change the look of the pipe with a custom finish. See Metal Pipe Finishes for ideas and instructions.

Step 8

Secure the pipe assemblies to the wall with flat-head wood screws. Remove the painter's tape from the wall.

Step 9

Place the board on top of the pipe brackets so it overhangs the supports equally. Check for level side to side and front to back.

Good to Know

A torpedo level (6 to 9 inches in length) may be easier to manage than a longer device when checking level.

Good to Know

If the shelf is in a high-traffic area of your home, you may want to add 1/2-inch pipe straps to secure the board to the supports.