DIY Easy Awesome Shelving

I have been on a hunt.  A hunt for shelving to hold my TV and books in my bedroom.  I don’t understand why it is so hard to find what I am looking for.  Either the furniture in the stores is too cheap looking and not worth my money, or I love it and it is too gosh darn expensive!  I decided to take things into my own hands…literally.  I decided to make my own furniture.

What?!?!?  I know…crazy…right?  But, I have to remind myself…I used to be an architect.  I went through architecture schooling, which required you to own enough tools to start your own hardware store.  I {used to} build things…like walls, floors…houses for goodness sake.  I Can Do This.


I started by scouring online to get some inspiration.  I decided my love was for reclaimed wood with metal.  Rustic Modern. I have always leaned towards wood, glass, and metal.  Its an architect thing.

I went to my local reclaimed lumber yard.  I fell in love with their products.  However, at $5 – $7 per linear foot for your basic reclaimed wood, I decided that was more than my budget would allow.  Off to Home Depot.

I managed to purchase one 2×12 for about $12.  And, as a bonus, the wonderful people at Home Depot cut the board into three 4 foot sections for me.  Now I could actually get it into my car and get it home without having the wood stick out the window. 

I brought the wood home and began phase 2.  The beating phase.  This is where you make new wood look old.  It was quite therapeutic and I highly recommend it for anyone needing a stress reliever!  I took chains, nails, screws, chisels, and hammers to the wood…beating it on both sides…putting divots, chunks, and all sorts of marks on the wood.


After I was done with that, my hubby sanded the edges of the boards.  They were rough where they were cut, so we needed to smooth those out.  But, we also put in extra sand marks on the corners of the boards…anywhere they might logically be a little extra worn with time. 


Next it was time to stain the wood.  Ok, I won’t lie, picking a color took some thought because my hubby and I were a little at odds with what look we were after.  I wanted more of a natural wood look, he wanted more of an opaque stain.  Eventually we settled on something in the middle.  It is a grayish stain, not too light, not too dark.  I applied the stain with a sponge brush, keeping my strokes long and even.  Then, since I didn’t want the stain to go on too thick, I wiped off the stain with a wet rag after letting it sit on the wood for about 30 seconds.  This method allowed the wood grain to peek through the stain, keeping it more natural looking.  


When the stain was dry {follow the manufacturer’s directions} I applied a clear polyurethane with a foam brush.  The polyurethane protects the wood.  I have kids, they place drinks everywhere.  Protection is good.  Plus, the polyurethane will give added depth to the stain and make it look pretty.  The polyurethane I used suggested three coats, but I will admit I only applied two.  I was getting anxious to finish this project.  I did, however, notice a big difference between one and two coats of polyurethane as far as the depth of finish and coverage goes.  So, I definitely recommend applying at least two coats.  Tip: don’t forget to lightly sand in between coats of polyurethane!

While the polyurethane was drying on the shelving, I started the next phase: The shelving supports.  I purchased galvanized piping for the shelving supports and casters for the feet.  However, the galvanized piping is a silver metal color, and I wanted something more aged looking.  So, I purchased a can of oil rubbed bronze spray paint and went to town.  One light coat…unevenly applied…made the galvanized pipe and casters look aged.


After that dried, the assembly began!  Start with your bottom shelf, mark where the supports should go.  Predrill holes, then screw in the flanges.  Now, you must attach the galvanized pipe at this point, or you won’t be able to do it later.  Then, go ahead and attach the flanges to the top of those pipes.  So, you have: shelf, flange, pipe, flange.


Put your next shelf on the ground.  Flip over the shelf with attached pipes and flanges and set it on top of the shelf on the ground, flanges down.  Mark where the flanges go, remove the shelf with pipes/flanges.  Predrill the holes that you just marked.  Set the shelf with the pipes and flanges back onto the shelf that you just predrilled the holes in, and screw the flanges and shelf together. 


Now you have two shelves attached with galvanized pipe and flanges.  Repeat this process for as many shelves as you desire. 

Finally, mark where you want your casters on the bottom shelf.  Predrill the holes, then screw in the casters. 


One easy, amazing, totally custom, DIY shelving unit that YOU designed and made…with your own hands.  Awesome.
This project is time consuming, I won’t lie.  But, mostly because you have to wait in between staining and polyurethaning for everything to dry.  Overall, however, I think it is a relatively simple project that you should attempt!  The results are amazing.  Now I just have to make a few more to hold all my millions of books!


Cost wise, it was much more affordable than buying something similar in the stores.  The cheapest I could find for something similar was about $400.  I made this for just under $200.  The wood was super inexpensive at about $12.  The galvanized pipe was not bad either.  I purchased 1” piping in 12” and 18” sizes.  They ranged from about $5-$8 each.  The most expensive was the flanges at a whopping $9 each {I used 8}!  That was where the bulk of the cost was. The casters were about $5 each. Then spray paint, stain, polyurethane, brushes, rags, gloves to wear while staining, sandpaper, and screws…about $50 for all of that.  But, I have leftovers of the stain, poly, spray paint, and gloves to use again on another project.


In the end, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results!  What I love about this shelf is that it is so versatile.  I have it shown here, in our Master Bedroom.  But I can easily see this located in an entryway, or as a sofa console table, or even as a wine bar!  The possibilities are endless.  And, it can be unique to every decor situation depending on what color you stain/paint the wood and pipes.

Have you ever attempted anything like this before? What did you do?



  1. Anonymous says

    Wow! Not only are you a great architect, you are also an amazing furniture designer! Congrats on this beautiful and functional shelf unit!

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