Industrial Pipe Bookcase

industrial pipe bookcas

A while back I decided that the office needed a makeover.  Many things were, and are still, on this list, but one thing for sure was an industrial pipe bookcase.  I had seen them numerous times on Pinterest and I had to try to make some.  I downloaded a plan from Ana White’s website and went on an adventure to Home Depot for supplies.  Later, I returned from my trip empty-handed and disappointed that even as a DIY project this bookcase was going to cost way too much.  The bookcase called for numerous pipe fittings and floor flanges, which ran almost $6.00 a piece at HD. When you need 32 flanges for one bookcase, that can add up rather quickly.

industrial pipe bookcase

So I decided to try my luck online.  I hunted on Amazon for flanges and ran across some black iron ones that would work, but they were still $5.00 plus shipping for one…so not so good.  I finally stumbled across Life and Home which is formerly known as the Ace Hardware Outlet.  They had floor flanges for $1.79 and free shipping for orders over $45.00!  Perfect.  I still needed to find the iron pipe though and while Life and Home had good prices on that too, it just wasn’t cheap enough.  To help with this problem, I decided to modify the plan from Ana White a bit…

I read different viewpoints on using electrical conduit and decided that it would be plenty strong enough for my needs. At $1.94 for 10 feet, it was a MUCH better bargain. I also used shorter pieces than the plan called for so my bookcase only came out to 74″ tall instead of 86″.  I did run into an issue with the electrical conduit though.  How could I attach it to the flanges?  Iron pipe can be cut and threaded for free at HD and Lowes, but the electrical conduit wasn’t sturdy enough for their industrial machines, so no threading…and I wasn’t about to purchase an expensive tap and die set.  I solved this dilemma by using electrical compression connectors.  They were $2.38 for a five pack and I needed 13 packs for two bookcases. With downward pressure and some severe tightening skills (thank you fiance) they are very secure.

industrial pipe bookcase

Cutting the pipe wasn’t too bad, but again I enlisted my fiance’s help for that. He used a standard pipe cutter…64 times, lol.  I cut all the pipes to 14 inches except for the lower shelf.  I (he) cut those to 16 inches.

I wanted the pipe to look like the wrought iron on our Pottery Barn table, so I followed 7th House on the Left’s lead and spray painted all the metal connectors, flanges, and pipe.  I used Rustoleum Aged Iron and then several coats of flat black spray paint over top.  The easiest way I found to do this was to connect the cut pipes and the flanges and stand them all on end, then go to town with the spray paint.  I was thankful to have a mask for this, because it took several light coats.

industrial pipe shelves

Casters are pretty pricey too.  I opted for three inch casters and bought two with brakes.  I found these sets of casters meant for a tool box for the least amount of money.  All 4 casters for $19.98 and they even come with bolts! I also spray painted the casters I found at Lowes.  

industrial pipe shelves

To make the shelves (for two bookcases) we bought 2 regular 12″ x 2″ x 12 foot pine boards and one 12″ x 2″ x 8 foot board.   Each shelf was 36″ and since we were planning to make two bookcases this only left us with 2 feet of waste.  We looked for the recommended 16 foot board, but they were out at our Home Depot…

After cutting all the boards to the correct length, I sanded them with some 80 grit sandpaper just to remove the “gunk” that was on some of them.  I also rounded all the edges and corners.  Then I used a hammer and a hatchet to distress the boards a little.  They’re industrial shelves, so I didn’t really want them looking all shiny and new.  A little more sanding with some 120 grit and finally 220 for an ultra smooth finish.  Next, came the stain that I am absolutely in love with!  Rust-Oleum Kona, which gave an ultra dark and rich espresso finish is just divine.

industrial pipe shelves

industrial pipe shelves

Next, came assembly.  I opted to coat the bookcase with polycrylic AFTER it was assembled, because I knew it would be faster (for me personally) with it all put together. Plus, I wouldn’t risk scratching them…and IF I did scratch it, I would be able to cover it with stain before it was sealed.  I followed Ana’s plan for this step and it went relatively easily (adding in my step of the connectors), but leveling and squaring each pipe was a pain.  Trying to find a spot in our house / garage with a flat and level working surface was one of the hardest parts, lol!  I used 3/4″ wood screws to attach the flange to the boards and although I was supposed to, I didn’t pre-drill (shame on me).

industrial pipe shelves

Once everything came together and I was sure it was as level as possible, I wiped everything off several times before adding my final coat of polyurethane.  I pretty much use Minwax Polycrylic in Satin exclusively and I love the results it gives.  While I was pleased with the look of the pipes after they had been spray painted I didn’t like the rough texture so much.  It looked virtually the same as wrought iron, but these were almost like sandpaper.  To fix this, I brushed on a thin coat of the polycrylic using a sponge brush, and that did the trick.  Now they look, and feel, almost identical to the Pottery Barn table we have.  They look a little shinier in this picture, unfortunately, than in real life.

industrial pipe BOOKCASE

industrial pipe shelves

industrial pipe shelves

Start to finish, this project took me a little over a week to complete…but I had a lot of interruptions, so it could definitely be completed faster. I can’t wait to show you the whole office transformation so stay tuned!

Final cost breakdown and materials for ONE bookcase:

1/2″ x 10′ electrical conduit pipe  $1.94 x 2 = $3.88

1/2″ Connectors (5 pack) $2.38 x 7 packs = $16.66

black iron floor flanges $1.79 x 32 = $57.28

2″ x 12″ x 16′ board = $24.86

Rustoleum Kona stain (1 quart that’s still 90% full) = $8.48

Rustoleum Textured Spray Paint in Aged Iron = $5.76

Rustoleum Flat Black Spray Paint = $3.77

Kobalt 4 pack of 3″ casters = $19.98

Wood screws 3/4″ (1 box that I haven’t even used 1/2 of ) = $6.97

Sandpaper (already had item) in 80, 120, and 220 grit

Minwax Polycrylic in Satin (already had item)

Total Cost = $147.64

Not too shabby.  Considering the galvanized pipe version was going to be over $200 for floor flanges, alone!  I’m glad I modified the plan and my version is plenty sturdy for my office supplies.


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Industrial Pipe Bookcase — 34 Comments

    • you’re welcome Katie. Those flanges are so pricey I couldn’t believe it! I feel like I lucked out with that website. Other than ebay I haven’t seen them for less.

    • Thank you Linda! I still have a lot to do before I finish the office, lol. Thanks again for hosting!!

  1. Wow! What a project! You and your fiance should be very proud of yourselves…the bookcase looks amazing. How clever of you to find so many ways to modify the bookshelf to save money. Congrats for being featured over at Mary’s Masterpiece Monday blog party.

    • Thanks Miss Kitty. It was a little more difficult than expected but I love a challenge. Thanks for visiting!

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    • If you check out the link in my post to 7th House on the Left, you can see how they used this textured spray paint technique to achieve a wrought iron look. It really does look and feel like wrought iron when combined with the flat black spray paint. 🙂 Thanks for visiting and take care!

    • Awesome. Thank you! I’m thinking of doing this as a table instead of bookshelf, to use as a coffee bar. 🙂

  3. I had found some flanges less than $2 here: and then was hoping that the actual True Value store would have them in stock, but when I got there they were $8, booooo. I was thinking about ordering them online but knowing where you got yours and that they were perfect I think I will go that direction instead. Thanks so much for the link!

  4. Hello, I have been looking at this type of bookcases online. I like yours and your ideas. I am going to make one for myself. Thank you so much for all your information and links you provided. I am planning on making mine 4 feet long instead of 3 feet. Do you think I need more support in the center or just on the ends. I am only going to be putting books so nothing to heavy.

    • Wonderful! I think they would be fine as long as they aren’t too tall- the height would make it necessary to secure them to a wall. 4 feet wide should still be very sturdy. Good luck with your project!

  5. I kinda love hate you right now…I am in the middle of a pipe hutch right now and am having difficulty getting my vertical pipes straight……your method is not only cheaper but would eliminate the “crooked” pipe issue im facing….err….Live and Learn, I guess!

    • Hi Nicole, I totally understand your issue. I faced the same dilemma with boards that weren’t completely flat. Working on a level surface and using a small level vertically on each pipe before screwing them in eliminated the problem. Hope that helps you! FYI, I used galvanized on another table and unfortunately ran into the same issue when boards weren’t flat…however it was harder to correct bc the galvanized pipes are NOT flexible like the conduit.

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  7. I can’t find the flanges on that site you bought yours at for a price even close to the price of $1.79! Which ones are they on the site so I can go look again? Thanks!

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