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Home / DIY Ideas / Bookshelf Out of Copper Pipe and Wood

Bookshelf Out of Copper Pipe and Wood

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Finished product first

Finished product first

Finished product first

Inspired by this bookshelf from Crate and Barrel

Inspired by this bookshelf from Crate and Barrel

I spotted it in the store and loved it, until I saw the price tag: $1,499. (http://www.crateandbarrel.com/beckett-6-high-shelf/s528870) I was sure we could make something almost as nice for a fraction of the price.

We bought 2x10s from Home Depot, beat them up with various garage implements, and stained them with Minwax Ebony.

We bought 2x10s from Home Depot, beat them up with various garage implements, and stained them with Minwax Ebony.

Each shelf was cut to 6′. We used an axe, various hammers, nails, a mouse sander, and even laid them over gravel and jumped on them, so they wouldn’t look quite so clean and new. I also used Minwax Pre Stain Wood Conditioner, because I had it laying around. I honestly don’t know how much difference it really makes, but I am really happy with how the stain came out.

Close up of our attempt at distressing the wood a bit

Close up of our attempt at distressing the wood a bit

Next came pipe measuring and cutting. Endless cutting.

Next came pipe measuring and cutting. Endless cutting.

We used 3/4″ copper pipe. It was significantly cheaper to buy it in 10′ lengths.

Those little tube cutter tools work really well, definitely worth the price

Those little tube cutter tools work really well, definitely worth the price

Each individual cut didn’t take very long at all, there were just so many cuts to make

So many cuts

So many cuts

Cutting was interspersed with fitting together, trying to keep everything square and sturdy

Cutting was interspersed with fitting together, trying to keep everything square and sturdy

We had a solid idea of the structure before we started, but ended up making lots of modifications as we went to try to make it as strong as possible.

It became obvious that our initial design was not very structurally sound

It became obvious that our initial design was not very structurally sound

That bottle of Goo Gone on the coffee table worked really well for getting the millions of stickers off each and every joint piece. That lazy dog in the background didn’t help at all.
We ended up going back and adding lots of cross pieces to the individual towers to keep them square and stable

We ended up going back and adding lots of cross pieces to the individual towers to keep them square and stable

The initial idea was two "freestanding" towers, just like the Crate and Barrel shelves, with the wood shelves connecting the two

The initial idea was two “freestanding” towers, just like the Crate and Barrel shelves, with the wood shelves connecting the two

Once we got them assembled, we clearly needed to add connecting cross pieces for better lateral stability
Even with the shelves in place, it was pretty wobbly

Even with the shelves in place, it was pretty wobbly

You can also see what this shelf replaced. A boring old IKEA Expedit we’ve had for years.
Adding those two connecting pieces across the top and bottom made it really solid

Adding those two connecting pieces across the top and bottom made it really solid

Glueing

Glueing

Even though all the structural changes we made had made it really sturdy, we still decided to glue specific sections together to further ensure stability. We didn’t want to glue the entire thing because then it would be inconvenient to move. This way it can still be disassembled into easy to move small parts.
We used wooden skewers to line the inside of the T and L pieces with JB Weld, then stuck the pieces together

We used wooden skewers to line the inside of the T and L pieces with JB Weld, then stuck the pieces together

We tried to keep everything square and equally spaced
More pieces drying

More pieces drying

We let all the glued pieces dry overnight. In retrospect, we should have assembled it wet and let it dry that way. When we went to assemble the whole thing the next night, some of the pieces didn’t quite line up with each other anymore. Breaking apart epoxied copper pipe is not fun.
But eventually we got everything fitting together properly

But eventually we got everything fitting together properly

Honestly, figuring out how best to arrange everything on the shelves may have been more difficult than actually building it

Honestly, figuring out how best to arrange everything on the shelves may have been more difficult than actually building it

The total price was a little more than I was expecting. Copper isn’t cheap, especially those damn T connectors, and we had to go back and buy extra when we realized the initial design wasn’t sufficient. But still, it came out to a fraction of the price of the Crate and Barrel one, and I honestly like it better. Plus it was a fun way to spend a couple afternoons.
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4 Comments

  1. Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering
    if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how
    do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any assistance is very much appreciated.

    • Hi Laurene,

      First of all thanks a lot for the kind words, and I don’t really get that much spam (1 spam comment since I created the blog). If you wanna try a plugin, you should definitely try Akismet, the default wordpress plugin since it does a good job.

      Have a nice day!

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