DIY Rustic Shelf: Building

Hi! It’s about time we went ahead and built the shelf we bought all of the materials for in the last DIY: Shelf post from a couple of weeks ago. First thing to do is lay out some old pieces of cardboard to be able to stain the untreated wood without making a complete mess. Use a brush or sponge to lightly stain the wood, wiping the excess stain off of the wood after allowing it to dry. The longer you let it dry, the darker the stain will be. I let my stain dry for about 5 minutes before wiping the excess off.

Apply the stain evenly, and watch for extra drops or pooling.

The second step is to actually build the frame of the shelf. Each piece of piping is simply screwed together, no tools needed! You just might want to enlist the help of a big strong man to help secure the joints:) Another tip is to wipe the pipes clean before beginning to build it, they are pretty dirty. OR you could spray paint them to create a completely different look and feel- maybe a neon color pop!

And finally once the frame is built and the boards are dry you can place each wood board onto the different shelves. The final touch is to screw it into the wall at the top of the entire piece for stability.

Now that the piece is built it is just waiting for you to fill it with all of your favorite things! I’ll share how I glammed out my rustic shelf with design books, antique finds and personal touches in the final DIY Rustic Shelf post!

83 thoughts on “DIY Rustic Shelf: Building

  1. Finished product looks great! Have to say I like seeing it actually being made (compared to seeing the completed projects on pinterest).
    Something I will have to remember to make when I have a place of my own.

  2. I just checked out the materials list, and was wondering what specific type of wood planks you got for yours, and how much they were. Such an amazing project!!

  3. are you able to tell me which length of pipes were used for each part of the shelf? for example, in your previous post it said you used 12 1/2x 12″ pipes…where were those used? it is hard to tell the length of pipe and where they were used from the pictures….

    Thank you! And can’t wait to build my own!

    • Hi Vanessa, I used the 12″ pipes as the horizontal pieces, to actually place the wood planks onto. All of the other pieces can be mixed and matched to vary the height of each shelf. Let me know if you have further questions, and good luck with the build! It’s really fun:)

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    • We just set the shelves onto the pipes, so we are able to take them off if we want to. They are heavy enough that their weight keeps them stable. Also- it allows us to change the layout in the future if we want to!

  5. Just discovered this post via pinterest… I’m about to set up a home office and LOVE these shelves!! Thanks so much for the great idea & instructions!

  6. I’m a little confused how you threaded in every piece with stock items. At some point didn’t you run into a situation where screwing in a pipe on one end meant unscrewing it on the other?

  7. This is so cool! We are actually making this right now, but are going to make it as a shelf that goes over the toilet. Just got done building the frame yesterday (once we figured out that we had to screw some of the nipples in REALLY tight so we could unscrew them to go in the next joint above it was a cinch). We finally got it to be very sturdy and level. Is there a way I can email you a picture of my project when I am done? Thought it would be cool to share 😉

  8. Cameron,

    They left out that you need unions for the shelves. That means the material list is completely worthless because instead of a 12 inch piece to connect the Ts, you’ll need something like a 10″ a 1″ (or 1.5″) and then a union. Not a huge cost concern but more of a pain.


    • Hi Brian,
      We actually used my exact materials list to create the shelves. We ran into the same issue that Cameron did with the pipes unscrewing as we were working on it. As Sarah pointed out, by screwing the pipes in extra tight on one end, you are able to move forward with the project. I realize this leaves some of the pipes only “half” screwed in, but since these are not being used for any kind of liquid we decided it would be ok:) The shelves are still sturdy enough for a lot of books and when you secure the entire unit into the wall or floor it helps to stabilize it even more. I had no idea we could have used a union, so thank you for the tip!

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  12. My husband is trying to make these shelves and bought the wrong piping and it does not go together. He is trying to guess at the size of the union pieces. I can not find your parts list. Would you please post it again. Thank you

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  14. Hi there!
    I’m a few minutes away from ripping my hair out… Lol! You have the only tutorial I can find online for making a shelf that has piping on the front as well as the back. I am 8 pipes in and I’m considering throwing this thing in the street if I don’t figure out how to put the “squares” together without them being too loose. If I tighten them too much I can’t even get the pipe at the “top” into the T joint. I hope that made some kind of sense… Please help!?!!! Thanks in advance! 🙂

    • Hi! We had equal frustration when putting our shelves together as well! Our solution was to tighten the horizontal pipe into the “T” as much as possible. Then when you are attaching the other end of the horizontal pipe into the other “T” you will end up unscrewing the first side. It is a balancing act but if you tighten it enough initially you will end up with a strong connection. I hope this helps!

      • I’ll have to try that as soon as it stops raining. Of course everything and myself would get poured down on out of nowhere to further my frustration! Ha! Thank you so much though! I appreciate your timely response more than you could know 😉

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  19. How do you get it to be straight? I’m having difficulty fitting everything together and making all of the piping make proper squares.

    Also, I got my piping off of which cost about half of what it costs to buy the piping at Lowes.

  20. Hi! This is awesome and I’m planning to use this design but I’m stuck. Here’s my question:

    How do the horizontals (and verticals) screw together without a universal somewhere? In theory, as you screw one end in, the other end will unscrew…
    How did you do this and get them screwed in securely without needing a universal?! I cannot wrap my head around it!!

    Please help!!


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  22. I was wondering if it would be more stable if you secured each shelf with 1 or 2 U bolts. I was thinking of cutting out a recess for the U and attaching the other side with either a straight bar or one made specifically for clamping to pipes.

  23. Hi there we are currently trying this out and as we are attaching the piping we find that as we build up and try to add to it, screwing them together gets quite difficult. Adding a new flang to an already attached pipe doesn’t screw on. Or if we do screw it to the new flang it loosens from the bottom. Did you encounter this? what was your workaround?

  24. I appreciate you posting this, I found it this morning and have already made plans with my Dad to make very soon. Its better than a boring, expensive entertainment center. I plan to size up a section for the tv to sit in, then decorate with family and friends pictures and flowers.

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