DIY pipe-and-wood shelves


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Time to color in the eyes on that Daruma.

Nice look, I guess, if you’re nostalgic for dorm room furniture. And I get the allure of making your own (esp. if you’ve never done anything like this before). But oof – pricey! Doing this with 1/2" black pipe runs to about $250; the 1" used by the redditor tallies close to $400 (!)

For that kind of money, there’s an estate sale somewhere close by that can hook you up with real, already-assembled furniture…

(Pro tip: finishing wood in the yard is non-optimal ; -)


The redditor said the total cost was around $800.

Oof indeed…

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For that price, you could buy 3-4 units from somewhere like IKEA. Not looking to start yet another IKEA terrible/IKEA good holiwar, just putting the expense in perspective. Mass production ftw, I guess?

Now, if you were able to source reclaimed pipe… Though having never attempted this, I’m not sure what the condition of black pipe would be after a decade or four of use.

You might be able to get the pipe more cheaply, if you got in contact with a plumbing/pipefitting company.

Most of those pipe pieces appear to be 8" to 24" in length. I have seen tons of pipe scrap discarded at the end of big construction projects, brand new pipe just tossed out because it was less than 5 feet long.

Of course there is the matter of cutting and threading the scrap pipe into the specific lengths needed for the shelving. This could also be negotiated, as most plumbing outfits will have pipe cutting/threading equipment available.

Not too bad, really. Any rust will come off with sandpaper or a quick swish of muriatic acid. Cleaning the pipe dope off the threads is the biggest challenge; wire brushing is slow and hard, and acid doesn’t always remove all the binder.

The real problem is quantity. Due to the nature of their work, gas lines are usually optimally built – shortest distance, fewest fittings, etc. Trying to scrap out 10 flanges is tough…there just isn’t that much application for them. And 30 tees! …there might be 5 or 6 in a typical house, and most of those will be reducing tees or 1/2" size (for providing a drip leg at appliance connections).

In the days of cheap domestic steel, threaded pipe used to be a no-brainer – a couple hours’ pay was enough to buy pipe for, say, an exterior stair railing. Nowadays…not so much.

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Yikes. Spending three times as much as storebought sort of defeats the purpose of DIY.

Not necessarily. Saving money is only one, non-mandatory, purpose of DIY.

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