How do I show off my pipes?
January 18, 2008 7:29 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience or advice on building a clothing/display rack out of pipes?

Firstly, I don't know anything about plumbing, building things, or generally being handy.

I suspect it might be simple enough to construct a simple clothing rack out of steel pipes, but I'm posting here in case I'm mistaken so someone can tell me not to waste my time.

It would basically be a rectangular frame held together by 45 degree elbow joints, with a 4-directional joiner on each corner at the bottom so that parallel pipes can be fitted as a base.

(I'd sketch out a design but I'm worse at drawing than I am at words).

I'd like to know if something like this would be sturdy enough without having to weld anything together, and any tips/terminology that would make me sound less moronic in front of the staff at the hardware store.
posted by wolfsleepy to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Metal pipe fittings will be heavy and sturdy, but it may be a pain getting them in the right length, with the right diameter, and the right threading. It really depends on the selection at your supply store.

Personally I'd try making something out of PVC tubing. You can cut it easily and that purple goop makes a strong joint. On the down side, it's ugly, and the goop stinks when you use it. That said, it'll be a lot cheaper than metal pipe and if you use a larger size diameter tube it should be plenty strong. You can spray paint it too with good results.
posted by wfrgms at 7:40 PM on January 18, 2008

I imagine that you'll also want to say 90-degree elbow joints, unless you want to build an octagon.
posted by zachxman at 7:50 PM on January 18, 2008

We made a PVC holder for all our wet towels to go on the porch by the pool, and it is really sturdy, so I think wfrgms has a point. Also, PVC is easier to work with.
posted by misha at 8:49 PM on January 18, 2008

You can definitely do this without being especially handy -- if you design something using pre-cut lengths of pipe w/ threads (most of the pipe I've seen in hardware stores is pre-threaded) you won't have to cut it at all: just buy the lengths and a bunch of joints.

However, unless you're really after the 'industrial' length, I suspect a DIY project of this type will end up costing you more than simply outright buying a wardrobe set from WalMart or the like. I've bought an approx. 6 ft free-standing wardrobe (with plastic wheels) from them for under $40. If you want sturdier and cheaper (again without the DIY), if you manage to find a clothing store going under you can buy a rounder (those large circular racks) or other retail-quality fixtures for about the same price. My girlfriend, who works in fashion and has pooploads of clothes, did so about 2 years ago and paid maybe $20-30 for a big rounder and $20 or so for a 4-way (they've got a heavy center pole and four arms coming off of them).
posted by fishfucker at 9:03 PM on January 18, 2008

If you decide to try it with PVC, I'd skip the "purple goop." The purple color is not from the adhesive itself, but from a primer/cleaner they want you to swab the parts with before applying glue, to ensure a watertight bond. For your purposes water isn't an issue; the clear glue will look better and is plenty strong enough.
posted by jon1270 at 4:01 AM on January 19, 2008

Here's a PVC rack.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 7:17 AM on January 19, 2008

I'm guessing you are trying to build a rack with a bar to hang hangers on parallel to the floor, and, perpendicular to that, some vertical supports going down to a base. If that's not what you are talking about, you will need to explain further how you are planning to make a rectangle with 45 degree angles.

First of all, if you want something to be perpendicular (i.e., like a square or rectangle) to something else, you would need a 90 degree connector. If you want to put hangers on this rack, you will need something to keep them from slipping around the corner onto the vertical part. A T connector instead of a 90 degree bend will work for this.

I'm not sure what you are trying to say about the base, but you can use another T to run a pipe connecting the verticals underneath the clothes, to make it sturdier. Coming down off this have a short piece connect to a T that will have the long side resting on the floor, attach support pipes to this. You can put pipe caps on exposed ends if you like.

You could use threaded metal pipe or PVC. Go to the hardware store and check out the selection and prices. If you use PVC, put everything together without glue first and see if it fits.
posted by yohko at 8:04 AM on January 19, 2008

Here is a CD rack made with pipes that should give you an idea of what's involved. I have also seen railings and handles made out of copper pipe, sweated together; it is a clean look and is not as hard as you might think, as well as being more adaptable as you can cut the sections to length.
posted by TedW at 10:08 AM on January 19, 2008

I worked in a clothes shop which had all the rails and shelving made with steel pipes and a key clamp system and it worked brilliantly. The owner had shelves cut from really nice wood which were simply drilled and threaded throught the poles and held up by clamps fixed underneath.
posted by brautigan at 10:12 AM on January 19, 2008

Yeah I did mean 90 degree elbow joints, whoops.

Anyway I put it together today and I'm happy with the result (unfortunately I'm without a proper digital camera at the moment so I only have my built in webcam). I went with galvanized steel which cost just under 10 bucks for each 48" pipe (four in total; one was cut into 10" lengths for the base).

the top
the base

Thanks for your responses!
posted by wolfsleepy at 5:30 PM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

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