Serena Appiah, of Thrift Diving, came up with this clever pipe project. It’s not just a copper pipe headboard. It’s not just a copper pipe bookshelf. It’s a copper pipe headboard with a bookshelf!
This is Serena’s contribution to our DIY Challenge series here on The Home Depot Blog, in which we ask some of the best design and DIY bloggers on the internet to come up with fun and practical DIY projects featuring a specific material. In this case, copper pipe was the material for the challenge.
Just follow Serena’s step-by-step tutorial to build your own copper pipe headboard and bookshelf.
A couple of weeks ago, if you’d asked me, “What’s the one product you’ve never used for a DIY project?” piping probably wouldn’t have even come to mind. Although we’ve all seen how magical copper pipe looks around the home, it’s just not something that I have ever thought about using.
So when The Home Depot invited me to participate in their DIY Challenge, where they assign bloggers a surprise material and they have to make something cool from it…well, I about choked when I saw the word ‘piping’ in big black caps.
What in the world was I going to do with piping?!
Turning to Pinterest isn’t something I usually do for inspiration, because I like to think of my ideas as original (even if they aren’t)–totally uninfluenced by what’s saturated the ’net. But sometimes, staying purely original is silly; why totally create the wheel? It’s okay to get inspiration, right? Isn’t that what my blog, Thrift Diving, is for, anyhow?
One of my ideas was to make a copper pipe headboard for my oldest son’s room. This idea really spoke to me because I’d been meaning to get his room together, so this would be the perfect idea. I decided I would create built-in book storage on top for him, as well. I knew it would be a good idea.
Now, my oldest son has a cool bedroom with character….and a copper pipe headboard with a built-in bookcase!
DIY Copper Pipe Headboard and Bookshelf
Here’s how I created the copper pipe headboard. Keep in mind that dimensions will depend on the size of your bed or your style preferences.
- Copper pipes – ¾ in. size (5 ft. long pieces)
- (4) Copper pressure tees – ¾ in. size
- (4) Copper 90-degree elbows
- ¾ in. Rigid tubing cutter
- (6) Copper-plated 2-hole tubing clips
- Gorilla Glue Epoxy
- Twist-N-Lock Drywall Anchors with Screws
- Screwdriver or drill with a driving bit
- Tape Measure
- Painter’s tape (for holding piping in place while securing to the wall)
- 100-grit sandpaper
Which Copper to Use?
Since I had never used copper pipes before, I had no idea there are different types. The two types I saw at The Home Depot was Type L and Type M. The difference is the wall thickness of the pipe. Type M is a bit cheaper and will totally work for this project. I had bought the more expensive Type L because I didn’t know. You’ll be all the wiser, though!
You’ll need the following cuts to the copper pipes:
2 pieces – 56½ in. each
3 pieces – 36 in. each
2 pieces – 6 in. each
2 pieces – 3 in. each
2 pieces – 1½ in. each
NOTE: Your exact measured cuts will depend on the size of your bed and your style preferences. My son’s bed is a twin size, so these measurements should fit that sized bed.
How to Cut Copper Pipes
This was the part I thought would be super complicated, but it wasn’t! Not the least bit. I simply used my Ridgid 1” Close Quarters Tubing Cutter and cut the pieces after measuring them with a measuring tape. The tool simply scores the metal and after several rotations, it breaks off easily in your hand, with a nice clean cut!
TIP: Before gluing your piping together, construct it first to ensure that all pieces will fit properly.
Step 1: Connect the Top
Now that all your pipes are cut, it’s time to start assembling the headboard.
Start with two 90-degree elbows and the two short 1½ in. pieces of copper pipe. Insert the short pieces into the elbows.
Step 2: Add the Tees
Next, connect the elbow, 1½ in. pieces, and the tees.
There should be two assembled pieces.
Step 3: Connect One 36 in. Pipe
Now connect one 36 in. pipe between the ends.
This forms the top of the headboard.
Step 4: Connect the 56½ in. Pipes and 3 in. Pipes
The copper tee is now ready for the 56½ in. pipes and the 3 in. pipes.
The 56½ in. pipe is what will form the base of the bookcase.
The 3 in. pipe is the extension so that we can build the built-in bookcase.
Step 5: Add Another Copper Tee
Now we’re ready to add another copper tee.
This copper tee will hold the bars that will create the bookcase.
Step 6: Add the Second 36 in. Copper Pipe to the Tee
This forms one of the pipes that will support the books.
Step 7: Connect the 6 in. Pipes, 90-degree Elbows, and Last 36 in. Pipe
This step completes the built-in bookcase for the books. Getting it to fit may take some shimmying of the pipes.
Step 8: Tape the Pipe to the Wall
Now that the copper pipe headboard is all constructed, and you’ve checked that it fits, this is a great time to tape the headboard to the wall with painter’s tape. This allows you to see how it will fit in the space.
An extra pair of hands is helpful, too, if you’ve got someone around to help.
Step 9: Securing the Bookcase to the Wall
You could do this step one of two ways: You can either glue to secure all the joints prior to installing the headboard, or you can start building it and adding glue as your go.
I did a combination by installing the longer pieces to the wall first with two-hole tubing clips and screws. I wasn’t as concerned about using anchors on the bottom because they weren’t going to bear any weight. Their role was to just hold the pipes in place and allow the baseboard to hold up the pipes.
Step 10: Glue the Bookcase Together
This part was a little challenging when the project started because I had heard that you must solder in order to join and secure copper. However, since this copper wasn’t being used for its intended purposes (plumbing!), I knew there would be a way to glue it together to secure it.
I used epoxy to secure it instead. But first I sanded lightly in between the elbows and tees, for a better adhesion. Then I mixed the epoxy, applied it quickly, and let it dry.
Step 11: Cleaning the Copper
After handling the copper, it’s going to look pretty grimy! You can clean it prior to hanging it on the wall, or wait until you’ve installed it to clean it.
Rub a lemon with salt over it.
You’ll see the dramatic difference and instant shine!
Wipe it off with a clean cloth.
Step 12: Lay Out Your Copper Pipe Headboard
Lay out the copper pipe headboard so that you can get ready to glue it together.
Step 13: Rough Up the Ends with 150 Grit Sandpaper
The directions on the back of the Gorilla Epoxy advises to sand the parts that will be glued, so I took 150-grit sandpaper and roughed up all the ends and inside of the elbows and tees.
Step 14: Glue the Headboard Together with Epoxy
The epoxy has to be mixed for 20 seconds and then used within 5 minutes, or else it will be less effective (and get gunky).
Because it dries so quickly, I only mixed a little at a time and coated the inside of a couple of joints and tees, and then I would mix a new batch to do a few more. This worked really well so as not to waste the epoxy.
Step 15: Add Anchors to the Wall
The part of the bookcase that will be anchored to the wall is now ready to be secured with anchors while the bookcase arm is drying.
Using the strap as a guide, mark where the screws will be placed, and then use a screwdriver or a drill to insert the anchor.
I painted the anchor to match the wall so that the white wasn’t visible.
Step 16: Secure the Screws
Step 17: Paint the Screws to Match the Copper
There weren’t copper screws, so the easiest way to blend them in was to paint them. Worked really well!
The Completed Copper Pipe Headboard and Bookshelf
Once it was all done, I cleaned up the pipes again since they had my fingerprints all over them, added in some books, and some other room furnishings, and I love how different the room looks!
The Rest of the Bedroom
The shelf above his desk area came from an old dresser top I had, and I used my circular saw to cut it for a mini shelf, with brackets. The chalkboard was an old thrift find. The desk was repainted and had been a curb-side find in our neighborhood when we’d moved in.
The chair is a mid-century mod chair found for $5.00 at my favorite thrift store!
I am totally in love with this room!
What started as a boring room ended with a colorful room perfect for a tween boy who’s growing up!
My son keeps thanking me for the room makeover, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s happy! Having a beautiful, cozy room when you’re a kid is something you always remember and cherish. I’m just glad he loves it!
If you’d like to see more of my room makeovers and furniture re-do’s, visit ThriftDiving.com and subscribe to get inspired to make over your next space!
Serena Appiah is a blogger, entrepreneur, artist, thrifter, wife, and mother of three young sons. Since 2012, she’s been inspiring readers at Thrift Diving to decorate, improve, and maintain their home on a DIY budget.
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