Saturday, November 1, 2014

DIY Black Pipe Kitchen Counter

Our kitchen had 3 feet of built-in counter, with one cabinet and one drawer. Considering how often we cook, brew, can, and entertain, this was a problem. A full kitchen remodel isn't in our budget right now, so we took a frugal approach by expanding our kitchen counter and storage space.

We like the look of pipe and wood furniture, so we thought we'd have a go at building a counter top using those materials.

Design considerations: 


- We wanted everything up off the floor, with the bottom shelf high enough that our Roomba could vacuum underneath.
- We knew we had some extra large items, like recycle bins and carboys, that needed to fit on the bottom shelf.
- There is a baseboard heater on the wall where the counter goes that sticks out several inches from the wall and so the shelves cannot attach to the wall.
- Because of the storage space we wanted on the shelf height, we compromised on the total height of the counter, which is 38", 2 inches higher than a standard counter. This makes it feel more like a bar.


Materials: 


1: 10-foot, 24" maple counter top (found at Ecobuilding Bargains for cheap)
1: sheet of 3/4" birch veneer plywood, cut to shelf width at the store (for us that was 16 3/4")
1: 8-foot 2x2
16: Reducing Tee,3/4 x 3/4 x 1/2 In.,NPT,Black Malleable Iron
8: Black Pipe,Pipe Size 1/2",Length 18",NPT,Carbon Steel,Schedule 40
16: Floor Flange,3/4 In.,NPT,Black Malleable Iron,Class 150,300 PSI WOG
8: Nipple,Pipe Size 3/4",Length 3-1/2",NPT,Black Steel
8: Nipple,Pipe Size 3/4 x 12",NPT,Black Welded Steel,Schedule 40,Class 150
4: Black Pipe,Pipe Size 3/4",Length 18",NPT,Carbon Steel,Schedule 40

Total material cost: About $200 for the pipe, plywood, and 2x2. We've had the counter sitting in the garage for a year.

You'll also need some tools, like plumber's wrenches, a vice, a drill, and a level.

A note on cost: When we priced out the pipe at Home Despot, it came to $300, more than we wanted to spend. So we poked around online and found this place called Zoro Tools that had lower grade pipe for half the price, with orders over $50 shipping free. We saved a ton of money, and they also have stuff we can't get locally. They aren't paying us to plug them, but we think it's a great resource!

How-to:


Assembling this project is pretty fun, like tinker toys for grownups. But, you will get greasy, and make sure you watch out for the threads on the pipe--they're sharp! You will need a pipe wrench to ensure that the pieces are securely threaded.


  1. Assemble the pieces together, connecting all the pieces for each leg assembly. There are four of sections on our counter.
  2. Make sure everything is tightened down as much as possible. Check the height and width of each piece and adjust as necessary until they are all the same.
  3. Screw the leg assemblies to the underside of the counter top
  4. Double check your final height from floor to bottom of counter, then attach a 2x2 to the wall at that height, being sure to hit the studs as this piece will hold a lot of weight.
  5. (You'll need two people for this) Carefully lift the counter and pipe assembly until it is resting on the 2x2. Bolt the counter to the 2x2.
  6. Adjust the height of each leg assembly for solid contact with the floor, by tightening or loosening the bottom flanges. Bolt the flanges to the floor, if desired.
  7. Slide the shelves into place (you'll probably want to put a few coats of polyurethane on them first, to protect the wood).
  8. Enjoy!
This design is super easy to modify if you want a different length of counter, different shelf heights, etc. It can also be converted into a free standing unit. If so, you will need to use 'union joints' to complete the square in the middle of each leg assembly.

We love the way our new counter looks, but more importantly we love how much more functional our kitchen has become. Not only is it great for our many projects, but it makes the perfect display for our weekly potluck dishes.



3 comments:

Chelsea Jones said...

Great post! Love the counter.

Carolina_CowGirl said...

Brilliant!

Kumar M said...

I am building it now. Will let you know how it came out. Thanks!!