How can I attach wooden shelves to a vertical pipe?

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Forum topic by Rob posted 02-08-2013 10:55 PM 8054 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3093 days

02-08-2013 10:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

My desk at work is made from wire shelving, with 1” dia. vertical rods. The rods also have grooves cut all the way around, about every 1”. Here’s a really good close-up of someone assembling the wire shelving:

I want to add some removable wooden shelves and pegs to the vertical metal rods to hold post-it notes, headphones, notepads, keys, my cell phone, my laptop, etc. The shelves themselves will be pretty straightforward, but the hard part is figuring out how to attach them so that each shelf/peg can be independently installed/removed, adjusted up and down, or rotated around the metal rod.

  • I can’t drill through the metal rods.
  • I can’t just slip the shelves over the top of the rod, because that would require removing several levels of the wire shelving, which is kind of a pain.
  • I thought about just sheathing the vertical rods in wood, but that would add a lot of bulk and might not be as modular as what I’m hoping for. I’d like to keep the attachment points somewhat small.
  • The laptop shelf and its method of attachment will obviously have to be a lot heftier than the others since the laptop weighs about 6 lbs. and its furthest edge will be positioned about 20” out from the vertical rod.
  • Let’s say the budget for each shelf is $3-$5, with the laptop shelf being maybe $20.
  • If it helps, I do have plenty of the plastic clips that keep the shelves from sliding down.

So, what are some ways in which I can attach these shelves? I’m looking forward to some creative ideas from the experts here.


P.S. I promise I’ll post some pics of the finished project afterward. ;)

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

9 replies so far

View Rutager's profile


27 posts in 2325 days

#1 posted 02-08-2013 11:03 PM

How about attaching hose clamps to your shelves and then tightening them against the rods?

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3093 days

#2 posted 02-08-2013 11:09 PM

Rutager, that’s a good idea. This is probably a dumb question, but what’s a good way to attach the hose clamps to the shelves? Would it be strong enough if I just screwed right through the hose clamp, or is there a smarter way to do it?

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2993 days

#3 posted 02-08-2013 11:12 PM

Those plastic clips only work because the sleeves welded to the ends of the shelves has an internal taper. The more weight you put on the shelf the tighter the sleeve squeezes the plastic clip into the groove of the post.

If I had to add something to one of those posts I’d make something that looked like a split pillow block bearing out of laminated plywood and wrap a wire around the post in one of those grooves then clamp the wooden “bearing” around it. Then you could attach what ever you want to this.

View Rutager's profile


27 posts in 2325 days

#4 posted 02-08-2013 11:34 PM


I think you could screw it to the wood, or maybe route an circular channel in the corner of the board.


View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2945 days

#5 posted 02-08-2013 11:56 PM

2 hole(1 hole?) electrical clamps on the end of the boards. Drill a half hole (size of the pipe radius) and screw the clamp into the end grain.

-- Life is good.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2509 days

#6 posted 02-09-2013 12:21 AM

Rob, along the lines of crank49’s answer….

Drill a hole the diameter of the post in a rectangular piece of wood. on each side of the hole drill a small hole at 90° to accept a 10X24 machine screw or maybe even a 1/4×20 bolt. Cut the piece of wood in half on the table saw, not the band saw, down the length of the large hole.

Attach the shelf to one half of the rectangle, probably with gussets to add strength, repeat on the other end.

Put the shelf up to the posts so the holes line up, insert the machine screws or bolts, tighten.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View bondogaposis's profile


4755 posts in 2373 days

#7 posted 02-09-2013 12:26 AM

I’d run u-bolts around the rods and into a shelf bracket under the shelves. BTW those things are supremely ugly you have my sympathy.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 1976 days

#8 posted 02-09-2013 04:38 AM

The answer Dallas gave you works. Furthermore, you could include a dogleg (below the shelf support part) on one of the pieces and hang your headphones from it.

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3093 days

#9 posted 02-09-2013 11:59 PM

Hey, everyone, thanks for the great ideas! Looks like there are a few that should hold the smaller shelves pretty well, and a couple more heavy-duty ideas for the laptop shelf. They all seem pretty inexpensive and right about at my skill level, so I might just try them all.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

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