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DIY: Office Shelves

This summer has flown by! I can hardly believe that it is the last couple of days July! We spent two weeks in Florida this month on our annual family vacation and pictures are to come on that.

I have been neglecting my blog here lately. At one point I was posting three entries per week! Now if I can squeeze one in a month I am so proud. School starts back soon and I am vowing to get back into routines!

Since we have moved into our new home(I know that I haven’t shared about yet, but will soon!) it has been project after project! Not going to lie though, I love all these little projects! I consider decorating, redoing, and DIY projects my hobby. I have been sharing bits and pieces of the projects on social media but I have decided to start sharing here.

I have been searching for the perfect office shelves for above my file cabinets, and I haven’t been able to find them. If you look on Pinterest there are million DIY of how to do shelves but I couldn’t find some that I just loved. I found some shelves that “could” work on Restoration Hardwares site but the dimensions were still not perfect because I needed the shelves to be 12 inches deep to fit some baskets. Plus on Restoration Hardware site after adding two shelves and brackets to my shopping cart it turned into a $800 project!

Okay so here it is. The overall dimension of my office file cabinets were 64 inches. So I knew I wanted the bottom cabinet to be that length. The upper cabinet I took a level and measured out exactly how long I wanted it. If you see the pictures below I have a slanting ceiling in that space so I wanted the upper one to be smaller and I have a clock that I want to work into that space. So you can figure out your dimensions before going to get lumber.

I went to Home Depot Friday night and I knew lengths and depth that I needed. I think the biggest problem I have found with all the other DIY shelf projects I have seen is the wood selection. I wanted my shelves to be sturdy and look substantial. In other words at least 2 inches thick.

I found a 2(thick) x 12(deep) x 10 (length) framing board from Home Depotframing board from Home Depot, and I thought it was perfect and under 15 bucks. I knew my specs so I got them to go ahead and cut the board will I was at Home Depot, one being 64 inches long and the other being 40 inches. Huge bonus is now they would easily fit in my car! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are all the tools that I used for the project. It was all stuff that I had laying around the house that was left over from other projects.

– Miniwax Stain – this is half Dark Walnut half Provincial leftover from our hardwood floors. You could choose any color you like here
– Miniwax Polyurethane leftover from Staining a door. I had clear satin but I also love the matte finish.
– Gloves to prevent stain and poly from getting on your hands. Or trying to prevent at least!
– Razor Blade (will explain)
– Chain left over from a light fixture (will explain)
– Hammer and Flat head screw driver.
– Ryobi hand sander
– Not pictured is a 120 or 150 pieces of fine sandpaper for some hand sanding.

At first I recruited my husband to hit the board with a chain. A lot of people use a hammer for distressed but I don’t think it looks right or natural. Do all sides including the bottom, top, and ends.

After it was distressed with the chain I used the razor blade to distress ALL the edges. Do every corner and edge to actually make it look like it “could” be old. Side note… there is probably a tool for this but I was using was I had around the house! And remember you can’t really screw this up.

After I finished I felt like it was missing something so I grab a flat head screwdriver and hammer and scratch the board up in various places using the hammer to drive the screwdriver into the board. Will show pictures of that in a moment.

Once it was distressed to my liking make sure to take the hand sander and smooth out the board and take off anything you don’t like on it. Even sand where you distressed just smooth the area but not to take the imperfections out. Once done with that take the fine sand paper and go over the entire board with you hand and take out anything that is sticking up.

Then it is stain time! Apply the stain and wipe off any extra. Let it completely dry then apply two coats of poly according to the directions on the can.

Here are the completed shelves!

And I haven’t forgot what in the world did I mount this with? Here is what I used and I got 4 of everything.
Malleable Iron Floor Flange Galvanized. You can get this in various sizes. I choose 3/4 thick which is one of the largest, again I wanted ti to look substantial.
Galvanized Steel Pipe. I Choose 12 inches long to work with the depth of my shelves but this you can also customized. Just get 3/4 inch thick and this in screws right into the Floor Flanges.
Galvanized iron caps for the end. Again 3/4 inch

Make sure that you get 4 mounting screws that are made for sheetrock before you hang up the shelves. We also just had plain stainless steel screws and brackets leftover from other projects.

I actually loved the way the wood grain looked on the framing board. I wasn’t too sure about my wood selection at first but I am SO happy with it! The picture on the right shows the distressing using the flat head screwdrives and using the hammer to hit it.

Here are a couple different angles.

And again the final product! Now to decorate! Total cost?
– Framing Board $14.12
– Galvanized Pipes (4 at 6.22) 24.88
– Galvanized End Caps (4 at $1.81) 7.24
– Galvanized Floor Flanges (4 at $5.06) 20.24

Total Cost roughly $70 and it took less than 2 hours to do!

  1. Amanda

    August 5th, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Just FYI, your shelves look much better than the ones at Restoration Hardware ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Andrea

    August 14th, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    How did you make sure the shelves don’t roll around on the pipes?


  3. Kristy Dickerson

    August 15th, 2013 at 5:00 am

    thank you Amanda! And Andrea the shelves are pretty substantial. Also the wall flanges and the pipes are threaded. So they screw tightly into each other so it won’t move around at all! ๐Ÿ™‚ The end cap screws into tightly as well.

  4. Devyn

    August 25th, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Great shelves! I just used your instructions to make my own and they are gorgeous! Thank you! One question: I got the 1/2" pipes since I"m making significantly smaller shelves and I’m having trouble getting the pipes fully threaded into the flanges and caps. Did you use any special tools for this? Also, how exactly did you mount the flanges to the wall? Thanks so much. And I agree…yours look 1000x better than the originals.

  5. Val @ Home Made Modern

    August 29th, 2013 at 6:34 am

    These are gorgeous! Pinned!

  6. melinda

    August 30th, 2013 at 8:03 am

    I came across shelving I liked on the West Elm site. Unfortunately, they were $100 apiece. I followed your instructions and made these from remnants, saving hundreds of dollars. Thank you for thinking (and taking the time) to post this project. Great, GREAT idea.

  7. Shanice

    June 10th, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I love this! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays ๐Ÿ˜€ Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

  8. Rinzin

    June 26th, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Dear Kristy,

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful blog with us. I really enjoyed going through it, particularly as i am in the look out for pipe and flanges shelf.

    I am based in south west London, UK and could not find the pipe and flanges in some plumbings shops here despite my sustained effort.

    Could you kindly put me in the right direction by showing me where I can buy these please, especially pipe, flanges and end caps. Thank you and please mail me directly.

    Yours sincerely

  9. WLC

    December 9th, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Hi, LOVE this tutorial. Wondering, are the shelves just resting on the pipes? Is it safe and steady? thanks!

  10. Cutter

    July 9th, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    I screwed conduit brackets around the pipe to the bottom of the shelf to keep the shelf from moving around on the pipe. Great post and loved the look of it in my house.

  11. Eileen

    July 11th, 2015 at 11:39 am

    These are perfect! Can’t wait to try making my own! Curious if they are "anchored" in the wall–? Just worried that over time the screws will loosen in the drywall. I LOVE this project!

  12. Kristy Dickerson

    July 11th, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    @WLC yes. The pipes are anchored into studs in the wall. Safe and sturdy. @Cutter. Love it! @Eileen yes they are anchored into the wall. Screws are going directly into the studs on the wall.

  13. Hayley

    September 28th, 2015 at 9:52 am

    This is exactly the type of shelves I want in our kitchen. I priced it on restoration hardware too, and my grand total would be 1,880! Not going to happen. Plus, they don’t have the exact size I need. So I clicked not the links provided to order the galvanized pipes and such. When I click on the link for the 3/4 x 12 in pipe it takes me to a link for an 18 in pipe and I can not find the 12 in one anywhere on the home depot site. So I looked to amazon, and I found a 3/4 x 12 in galvanized pipe nipple. The nipple part threw me off. Is that the same thing??

  14. Stephanie

    October 24th, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Did you finish the pipes with anything. They look kind of black or dark gray instead of the typical silvery galvanized color.

  15. Kristy

    October 25th, 2015 at 7:16 am

    @Stephanie. Nope! At Home Depot there was a darker finish and lighter that was two different thicknesses. I went with the thicker and darker so they are just the metal as they came! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Michael

    November 8th, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Are the shelves just resting on the pipes? How do you keep the shelves steady if you’re taking books or other items off them on a regular basis? These look amazing but I’d hate for them to be flipping over or dumping their contents over every time I took a book off the shelf.

  17. Keri

    December 1st, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Hi there. I am wondering if you cut and threaded the 18" pipe yourself or did you have this done somewhere or at home depot?

  18. DIY Kitchen Shelves - Appleseed Cuisine

    February 26th, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    […] first shelves I saw made from pipe and lumber were onย Kristy Dickerson’s blog. ย I’ve seen about 4,893 other projects like this since then, but I still remembered the […]

  19. Lauren

    February 29th, 2016 at 8:01 am

    I know this post is three years old, but for all late comers such as myself, I wanted to say there isn’t a tool for distressing wood. I worked for a high end hardwood flooring company and they used chains and hammers to to distress the wood. So you where right on the money afterall.

  20. Kristy Dickerson

    February 29th, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Woot! Thanks Lauren! That is neat that is what they use!


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