Building a Shoe Rack with Black Iron Pipe

You know that moment when, after planning and procrastinating doing a project, you finally get started and think to yourself “This is so exciting… why did I wait so long to do this?!”.  Yeah…I said that today.  I finally got to building the shoe rack in my dressing room.  After months of planning and measuring (see phase 2 for the sketch), I purchased the iron pipe and started fitting it together.

Before the Shoe Rack build

Here is what I learned and the Steps that I took:

  1.  Wear Gloves! (and take a set with you to your hardware store… the pipe is greasy)  I use the Nitrile Gloves that you can purchase at Costco and I have gone through more than a box… it is worth it.  Anytime I handled the pipe and then the shelves, I changed my gloves.  It was a lot of gloves, but I was really happy that it didn’t have black grease all over the shelves when I went to paint them white.
    Nitrile Gloves from Costco

    Gloves after working with just two pipes… they get dirty!
  2. Put down a drop cloth (or old flat sheet) to keep your carpets from getting trashed.  I used an old sheet and it was trashed by the end of the build.

    I used an old flat sheet to try to protect the carpets. It was nice to be able to lay the pipes down as I was building and not worry about the carpet.
  3. You will have to adjust your plans… many times.  I didn’t take into account that there was trim on the bottom of my wall, so I had to move the bottom wall support pipes higher or the flange wouldn’t fit flat against the wall.
  4. The bottom piece was the most difficult to plan since there were different connectors and pieces to make the same lengths (the boot hanging area made it difficult).  Once that part was fitted together, I measured for the shelves.

    Try to get the left side and the right side to match up with different connector pieces was the most difficult part (and caused multiple Home Depot trips). The boot hanging section is on the left with the bar.
  5. Use a Cabinet Handle Placement stencil to mark where the pipe holes will be.  This keep consistency and helps the shelf not to lean to one side as you build the upper pieces (the taller the shelf, the more noticeable it is if you are off).
  6. I measured each shelf individually and marked the holes so that everything was level and straight, building up as I went.
  7. Check that the size of the drilled hole is big enough.  I had originally thought that a 1″ spade bit would make a big enough hole for the 3/4 pipe, but it wasn’t.  I ended up using a 1 and 1/8″ bit and it fits perfectly.

    I pre-drilled the starting hole since I was using MDF. Slow and steady was the name of this game.
  8. Every once in a while there was a pipe piece that didn’t quite work (wasn’t straight)… just change it out for another one.

It took most of one weekend to get this put together (and about 5 or 6 trips to Home Depot).

Celebration after completing the bottom part of the shelf.
Part-way completed.
Fitting Complete! The only parts that are missing are the elbows and pipe back to the wall at the top (I will fit these after the shelf is finished and connected to the wall.

I am so excited about how it is going to turn out!  The one drawback is that, after all of that work, I have to take it apart to clean and spray paint the iron pipe and paint the shelves.  As I took it apart, I labeled the shelves on the back side so that they went back together correctly and I put the iron fittings for each shelf in a labeled box (so that I know how it goes back together).

I have had a lot of questions about why there are shelves that are so close together.  I took a quick accounting of my shoes and measured the clearance that they needed to fit in each section (this is what I based the shelves off of).  My flats and shorts shoes (like Toms or Converses) fit in the shorter areas and the bigger sections are for my heels and taller shoes.  I gave myself a variety of shelving heights so that I would have organizational options.  I also built it so that my storage boxes (for scarves/purses/etc) would fit all along the top and in the section to the right (shown in the picture above).

Are you excited to build a shelf?!?!



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