INDIANAPOLIS – If you’ve ever wanted to try the idea of making shelving out of galvanized or steel pipe, it’s a great idea for someone wanting to get into DIY.

It can make for a unique and sturdy creation. Galvanized or steel pipe can hold a lot of weight and comes in a variety of sizes.  It also has threaded ends so you can screw it all together.   They can be built from the floor up or mounted on a wall.  You simply screw a base into the wall directly into the wall for strength.  I also like to use deck screws or something that has a star or square bit that won’t easily strip like a Phillips head can. 

Once the base is mounted to the wall, just screw the pipe into the base.  Put a few of those pipes into a wall, level with the other one and you can mount a shelf onto it or whatever you like.  Cap the ends so the shelf doesn’t fall off.  You can also attach u-brackets to the underside of the piping to hold the shelf from moving.

Cop some copper

But now for something different: I used copper instead.  It can be shiny or it can be left to patina over time.  Home stores have a huge variety of pipe sizes and fittings.  You can make towel bars, small shelves, even toilet paper rolls as I did.  All are much more sturdy and unique than most anything you can buy off the shelf.  Once again, remember to screw a base plate into the wall for strength.

But what if you want to hold up something heavy because copper can bend?  You don’t want that happening when you’ve got dishes, glassware or heavy beverages sitting on your shelves. 

Here’s the trick.  I used ¾ inch galvanized pipe which won’t bend and still mounted it to the wall.  Then I slid copper over it.  One inch copper pipe will fit easily over it and so will ¾ inch sleeve copper.  Just try it before you buy it to make sure it fits.  The same holds true if you want to use ½ galvanized or steel pipe. A  ¾ inch copper pipe easily fits over that size.

Then cut to the length you need to cover the copper part of the pipe and cap the ends.  For a wood and glass shelf I built, just continue the cooper cage upward, using smaller copper tubing to hold in what you have on the shelf.  Metal glue or solder works.  Glue is easier and requires less skill to apply, but maybe you want to go for that authentic soldering look.  After you’ve done that, you now have the strength of galvanized or steel pipe and the look of copper.  While you’re at it, think about running underlighting, if there’s an electrical source nearby.

Part-time photojournalist, part-time model

I did the same thing with table legs that held up an amplifier for my TV.  I used a base plate, to mount to the underside of the table.  Then I screwed in a galvanized leg to that with small deck screws.  In this case it’s important to use screws that are not too long.  You don’t want them popping through the table top.   I then chose to thread on a coupler for a foot.  

Now you have a completed table leg but without the copper.  From there, just measure the amount of exposed galvanized pipe you want to cover.   Cut that same length of copper.  Unscrew one end of the new table leg and slide on the copper, then put that end right back on.  Using at least 4 legs and you’ve got yourself a solid table.  I also used a 5th center leg for strength because amplifiers are heavy and it was centered in the shelf.