Pipe Desk Project

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Last week I decided to take on a little project to improve my workspace. As some of you may know I have recently made a bit of a career shift, leaving the agency life and pursuing an independent design, branding, and web marketing path. As much as I enjoy working from my Macbook at various locations around this beautiful city, sometimes you just need to sit down, fire up your iMac and pound out some work. After some time browsing Pinterest (yes, it works for guys too) I decided to build a pipe desk (desk made of pipes and wood).

Step 1: Research.

I started by doing what any intelligent 21st century adult would do: Google searches. I wanted to know the best way to cut, thread, and fasten these pipes. I’ve never worked with steel before so this was a crucial first step. What I learned is that you can either rent/buy a pipe threader from Home Depot or Lowes, or you can actually take your pipes to Home Depot and they will cut and thread them for you ($1/cut).

Step 2. Gather materials.

Fortunately for me I found a nice little pile of 3/4″ steel piping in my basement that were leftover from an awning that is no longer in use. I took a quick inventory, and made some measurements.

After that, I returned to Pinterest to get some inspiration for the top. I decided that I would set out to find some reclaimed wood from one of our local reuse stores. My first choice was Buffalo ReUse, an awesome local resource great for finding old doors, windows, fixtures, raw materials, and pretty much anything else you could ever need. However, after picking up my little buddy Chloe and venturing into the always pleasant east side, only to realize that Buffalo ReUse is only open on Saturdays, I ended up at Buffalo Vintage and Industrial in Tonawanda. Not nearly the selection of ReUse, but it ended up working out ok. They had a huge pile of old bleachers, ripped out of a local high school. I quickly nabbed the most beat up one I could find and asked a staffer to cut it into thirds for me so I could fit it in my little car. While the cuts were being made I stumbled on a few bins of used connectors. FREAKING GOLD!  These bad boys cost anywhere from $3.99-$7.99 at Home Depot and I was able to score them for $1 each. Plus these are fastened using allen screws to lock them in, vs threading. Meaning, no need for cuts made at Home Depot and I could truly do this 100% DIY.

I bought every connector they had.

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Step 4: Measure twice, Cut once

A quick sketch, some measurements, and we were off.

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Step 5: Rough Assembly

I wanted to make sure all the pieces and parts would work out and the top boards would fit. I only assembled the base without adding the top supports.


Step 6: Sanding and Painting

We disassembled the frame, pulled off all the connectors and sanded down all the pipes in preparation for painting.

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Step 7: Wood measuring, cutting, sanding and staining.

I refined the cuts and we sanded all the surfaces and edges. Then a cut some connector strips and fastened them to the underside with some wood screws. Chloe grabbed the stain and we rubbed that bad boy down.

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Step 8: Frame Assembly

Using all the connectors, I connected each H frame end piece and then connected them using the crossbars. If you check out Pinterest you’ll see that most pipe desks use only one crossbar and rely on the wood top for the stability. I had the pipe free so I went for additional crossbars. The stability is now fantastic, so I’m glad I did it.

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Step 9:  Attach the desk top.

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End Result.

Overall I’m really happy with how this turned out. Its sturdy, stylish, and best of all completely DIY using nothing but reclaimed materials. Nothing from a hardware store at all, aside from paint and stain.

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Total Cost: $29