When I started Chics With Tools, the hubs and I embarked on a DIY journey to make the garage a more organized and aesthetic space, embracing an "Industrial Chic" vibe, using lots of pipe and wood. If you are into this look, you have probably priced this style of ready-made shelves. Ouch, right? Plus, the size options are pretty limited. We had a big expanse of wall to cover so the only real choice was to make them myself. I love the results but I learned a few things along the way that will make it easier for you if you decide to do this in your own space.
I have my own method for doing pipes shelves which is born from my dislike of wall anchors and my desire for sturdiness. Instead of attaching my pipes straight to the wall, I first screw a 1" x 4" board to the studs to span the whole area where the shelves will be. I attach the pipe fittings to the boards, not the wall. This way they can be put where they need to go, aesthetically and functionally, without worrying about where the studs are. This will make more sense as we go.
(Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links to Amazon.com, through which I may earn compensation.)
- The best deal I have found for pipes is on Amazon. They are marketed for people like us who are building things from them not plumbing their homes.
- Buy screws with coarse threads. These went in like butter and were totally worth the extra trip to Lowes and a little added expense.
- Our laser level was invaluable because of the length and height of the wall I was covering.
- Wear rubber gloves. The pipes are VERY dirty. Some come with just a sort of black greasy film. Others come really sticky.
- The metal fittings are not rust-proof. Like with cast iron pots you have to dry them immediately or they will rust. I spilled water on some of the flanges and within a few hours they started to rust. Also, after the whole thing was installed, I found a piece of paper that had come with the pipes. It was all about cleaning and treating them to prevent rusting. Did I do any of it? No. But some, if not all, of my pieces were pre-treated from the factory. It's been a couple of years and I have had no issues with rust that I can tell.
- Have all your pipes assembled ahead and be sure they are aligned and spaced exactly the same. Since you can adjust them by loosening or tightening, it is easy to have them all a little different.
Wood and Pipe Shelving
12- 3/4" T- fittings
24- ¾” floor flanges
4- 1”x4” pine boards for backing, cut to desired length
12- 1”x12” pine boards for shelves, cut to length
2 boxes- #10-2 ½” wood screws
1/8 drill bit
1. Stain wood. I used a one-step deck stain.
2. Wipe down metal. Goof-off works pretty well but I heard WD-40 is a good choice too.
3. Assemble vertical supports.
4. Find wall studs.Transfer stud locations to 1” x 4”’s
5. Drill 2 holes for each stud and insert screws in each.
6. Decide the height of the lowest shelf.
7. Mark the wall using a laser level.
8. Attach the first 1”x4”.
9. Measure the spacing between the shelf supports and mark the wall.
10. Attach the next 3- 1”x4”’s using the same process.
11. Lay the metal supports next to a wall to be sure everything is twisted the same direction.
12. Measure the depth of the shelf supports to be sure they are all the same and can accommodate the width of the wooden shelves.
13. Working from the outside in, use the laser level to mark the vertical guideline for the first support.
14. Get a helper to hold the support in place while you screw the flange in place on the top backer board.
15. Next, screw the bottom flange in place then go back to do the remaining flanges.
16. Repeat the process with the remaining supports, attaching the center pair last.
17. Insert shelves.
18. The last step? Add all the pretty. It wasn't our original intent to display merchandise and projects on the shelves but the rest of the garage got organized enough that we had the space. Now (when it is cleaned up) it seems a little too nice to be a garage so instead it is the Chics With Tools Makery.