Every time I post a picture of our kitchen the most popular part of it is our DIY copper pipe shelf shelf. I don’t know how many times I have been asked to make a DIY tutorial for it. So I finally sat down together with Jesse to make a step by step tutorial. Unfortunately, since the whole thing was an experiment and we didn’t know how the shelf would turn out and didn’t realize how much people would love it we didn’t take photos of the process. So what we came up with here is a list of parts needed, a description of the steps and pictures to show the steps as best as we could.
First, we will start with the parts you will need which are:
- copper plumbing pipe (we used 1/2 inch pipe and fittings)
- 4 x 90 degree corner pieces
- 4 x T connectors
- 4 flanges to mount on the wall (in Germany we could only get the ugly ones that also have a piece that sticks up, but I know in the states much nicer flat ones are available…I included both in the picture)
- 4 connectors to screw the copper pipe to the flanges
- 4 end caps for the end of the pipes
- wood in whatever width and length you want the shelves to be
- pipe cutter (you need this to cut your copper pipe because the pipe comes as one long piece and the longer piece you buy, they cheaper it is per meter. they are really easy to use just tighten and twist)
- super glue (I used a quick dry two part epoxy, but just read the package and make sure it is suitable for metal)
- metal polish
- white paint
- clear coat for the copper pipes to stop them from changing color
For the shelves we used three 30 x 80 cm boards and painted them white.
We started by cutting the copper pipe into the lengths we needed (this may be different if you use shelves of different depth than what we used) which were:
10 x 25 cm
4 x 30 cm
Day 1 – cutting, polishing and connecting
Using the pipe cutter is really easy. You just tighten it and twist it around the pipe, then tighten again and twist, tighten and twist until you cut through. Just make sure not to tighten too much in one go because that may end up bending or denting the pipe. The hardest part of this is to try to be as precise as possible and cut all pipes to the same length.
After that we started connecting the pieces. First we mixed a little epoxy and using a Q-tip applied it to the inside of each fitting and the outside of the pipe and pushed them together and twisted to make sure the glue was distributed evenly. We did the two vertical front pieces first with all the T and 90 degree connectors. We then laid them on their sides and made sure all of the connections were parallel to each other. This is the hardest part and most important. If the connectors aren’t parallel then when you connect the shelf supports they will go in all different directions. So make sure they line up nicely! We then left these overnight to let dry and let the epoxy completely cure.
Day 2 – More connecting
The next day we connected the rest of the pipes. We connected the caps to the four middle pipes but left the two top and two bottom pipes with no connectors, we will put these on later when we mount the shelf to the wall. Again, we let this dry overnight.
Day 3 – painting the shelves
The next day was painting day. We painted the wooden shelves white because we thought white and copper would make a good combination.And we also painted the copper pieces with a clear coat. This was to stop the copper from changing color. When copper is exposed to the air it oxidizes and beings to turn darker and sometimes greenish. This step isn’t necessary and it could look cool for the pipes to “age”, but we wanted them to stay copper colored and shiny. Again, more waiting…
Day 4 – mounting
Finally after letting the paint dry we could mount the thing! First we screwed the copper connectors into the flanges and then stuck these onto the two copper pipe arms of the shelf. But we didn’t glue these in place yet! Jesse then held the two arms up to the wall where we wanted the shelf and laid one wood board on the shelf supports and used this to level the shelf. I then also measured if each arm was level vertically, while Jesse kept holding them up (and kept complaining that his arms were getting tired). Once we made sure everything was in line we made marks for where holes needed to be drilled. We then drilled the holes and screwed the flanges on (since the ones available in Germany have the extra connector we wanted to make this look as nice as possible so made sure to have that always facing towards the inside). Then we applied epoxy to the pipes and copper screw connector and connected these. We held it in place for about 10 minutes so it would dry and then left it over night to completely cure. The next day we laid the wood boards in place and voila! We were done!
I hope that helps. As mentioned we weren’t able to do a step by step tutorial. Following I have included some more descriptive pictures just to make it easier for you to understand, what we did and used exactly. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. We found all the pieces and materials in the typical hardware store.
The end result:
Let me know if you enjoy this DIY copper pipe shelf tutorial!!!