DIY Industrial Pipe Bookcase with Bowling Alley Lane Shelves
This unusual industrial pipe bookcase was built by Henry and has two features that make it unique: the shelves are made from a reclaimed bowling alley lane, and the design is inspired by the Golden Ratio, a mathematical formula that many artists and architects believe make the most pleasing shapes.
The illusion of floating shelves was achieved using Kee Klamp fittings and pipe. This is a great project for someone who wants a bookcase that provides both form and function.
In this post, we’ll cover the exact fittings Henry used to build his bookcase and walk you through the process of how to put it all together.
Take a look:
Henry’s Bookcase Project Details
As stated earlier, one of the details that elevate this bookcase to a statement piece is the use of bowling alley lane wood. When starting the design process, Henry knew he wanted a bookcase with thick boards that made an architectural statement. Reclaimed bowling alley wood is not only stylish and durable but sustainable.
Don’t have access to bowling alley wood but still want the reclaimed look? This bookcase uses wood with unfinished edges to achieve a similar effect.
The floating shelves are another key component of Henry’s design. He stumbled across the idea while browsing other projects on our website and was excited to discover the bored out Flange fittings from our Kee Klamp line, which he had never seen sold anywhere else. The sturdy look of the Kee Klamp fittings also paired well with the black pipe and thick shelves.
In the picture below, you can see the underside of the project during assembly. Note how the bored out Flange fittings allow for a single length of pipe to pass unobstructed through the fitting and a hole in each shelf.
Finally, Henry created a base using a combination of regular, unbored Kee Klamp Flange fittings, threaded pipe, and threaded floor fittings he had on hand. However, you could use two Kee Klamp Flange fittings with a smooth section of pipe to connect them.
Overall, Henry learned a lot during this project, which is part of what makes the bookcase such a fun conversation piece:
“I have learned that the first fifteen feet or so of a bowling alley lane is maple, which is hard enough to withstand the heavy balls. The rest of the lane is cheaper pine. You’d never know it looking at a lane.”
Fittings Needed for the Bookcase
Henry’s design uses bored out Flange fittings for the floating shelves and regular Flange fittings for the base. Black pipe brings the bookcase together.
Here’s exactly what you’ll need:
Steps to Build Your Own Bookcase
If you’re using reclaimed bowling alley wood, you’ll need to cut the lane width down to size. In the picture below, you can see that the shelf is in fact made up of 1”x 2” slats nailed together and reinforced using a metal T bar.
When choosing building material for any bookcase, it’s essential to choose strong wood that won’t buckle under the weight. Bowling lanes make an ideal choice because, as Henry found out, the slat construction contributes to their strength:
“The slats are stable in an actual bowling lane because the lane is constructed to put inward lateral pressure on the 48 slats, like a clamp.”
An entire bowling lane is 48 slats wide, but Henry reduced his shelves to 10 slats wide. However, it may be necessary to make your shelves 11 slats wide (explained further below).
Now it’s time to cut the boards down to the desired length. As mentioned earlier, the measurements of Henry’s bookcase were inspired by the Golden Ratio, which is the formula that makes what many consider to be the most pleasing shapes. The solved equation is always equal to 1.618. Henry divided his longest shelf by this number to get the most pleasing length for his next longest shelf.
Henry’s bottom shelf is 96 inches long. To get the length of the next longest shelf, simply divide by the Golden Ratio, or 1.618. Therefore, the next shelf is 59 inches, followed by 36.5 inches, 22.5 inches, and so on. (Note: we have rounded to the nearest half-inch.)
After you cut the shelves to the desired length, use a hole saw to bore through each shelf where you want a pipe to be. Be careful if you’re using bowling alley wood, as the small nails that hold the slats together can damage your saw.
You’ll want to attach the base Flange fittings before assembling the floating shelves. However, due to the width of the Flange fittings lined up side-by-side, you’ll either need to trim one of the fittings or make your shelves 11 slats wide. See the photos below to understand what we mean:
Now it’s time to assemble the floating shelves. Start by screwing the base of the Flange fitting to the bottom of the shelf while using the pipe as a guide. Then flip the shelves right side up and stack them onto the pipes in the desired order. Raise each shelf to the desired height, then tighten the set screw.
Kee Klamp Flange fittings aren’t just ideal for this project because of the bored out option. The set screw allows you to adjust the height of the shelves with ease, all while providing the same strength and reliability as welding.
Whether or not you decide to design your industrial pipe bookcase with the Golden Ratio in mind, floating shelves are easy to make with adjustable Flange fittings.
Need Help Building Your Unique Bookcase?
Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how to put together your bookcase using bowling alley wood and the Golden Ratio. If not, we have other projects that follow a simpler design. The construction of this contemporary retail shelving is easy to modify and build but still has floating shelves.
Whichever design you choose, Kee Klamp fittings are a great way to build floating shelves with an industrial twist.
For those who want to build a one-of-a-kind piece but still need help doing so, remember that our team offers free design assistance. Our team has helped countless customers come up with their own incredible design and would be happy to help you do the same.