How to Make a Copper Pipe Towel Rack

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I like my towels to be completely dry when I need them, but I'm not a fan of traditional towel bars. So, I sat down with a pile of towels and a bundle of copper plumbing pipes and came up with this design. There's enough space to fully hang-dry two regular-sized bath towels, a couple of hand towels, and a shelf for what-have-you.

Image Credit: HomeMade Modern

Things You'll Need

  • 24 1/2 feet 1/2-inch rigid copper plumbing pipe, cut to the following:

  • 5 pieces at 30 inches long

  • 2 pieces at 26 inches long

  • 2 pieces at 12 inches long

  • 6 pieces at 7 3/8 inches long

  • 10 pieces at 2 inches long

  • 1/2 inch 90° copper elbow fittings (6)

  • 1/2 inch copper T-fittings (12)

  • 1/2 inch copper end caps (2)

  • 1/2 inch copper tube straps (4)

  • Tape measure

  • Pencil

  • Tubing cutter

  • Steel wool pad

  • Protective gloves

  • Gorilla Multi-Purpose Glue

  • 1 x 8 inch pine board, 33 inches long

  • Orbital sander

  • Sanding pads (220-grit)

  • Sandpaper (220-grit)

  • Dusting cloth

  • Polycrylic finish

  • Application brush

  • Power drill

  • 1/2 inch wood screws (10)

Step 1

To cut each piece of copper pipe, measure and mark a cut line on the pipe, using a pencil or marker.

Image Credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 2

Slide the tubing cutter over the pipe, aligning the blade with the cut line. Tighten the knob on the bottom until it is snug—enough to hold it in place but not so much that the cutter can't be rotated around the pipe.

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Step 3

Turn the pipe and, with each revolution, tighten the knob a half turn. Each time this is done, the scoring mark should become clearer.

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Step 4

After a few revolutions, the copper should come apart easily.

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Step 5

Shine the copper with steel wool.

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Tip

This is not a necessary step, so if you prefer the tarnished look you can skip the polishing. Copper pipe usually has factory printing on it, so I polish it away with the steel wool and then let it tarnish naturally.

Step 6

To join the pipe segments to the fittings, apply the glue in a thick ring on the inside of the fittings.

Image Credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 7

When joining the pipe with the fittings, give the pipe a few turns to more evenly disperse the glue.

Image Credit: Hom

Step 8

Join together six pieces at 2 inches, two pieces at 30 inches, and four T-fittings, as shown.

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Step 9

Add two 90° elbow fittings to the front and two T-fittings to the back, as shown.

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Step 10

Add to the back two pieces of pipe at 7 3/8 inches, one piece at 30 inches, and two T-fittings.

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Step 11

Add to the front two pieces at 7 3/8 inches, one piece at 30 inches, and two T-fittings.

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Step 12

Add to the top four pieces at 2 inches, four 90° elbow fittings, and two pieces at 7 3/8 inches.

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Step 13

For the legs, attach two pieces at 12 inches, two end caps, two T-fittings, and one piece at 30 inches.

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Step 14

Add two pieces at 26 inches.

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Set aside the copper to let the glue dry.

Step 15

Sand the 1 x 8 with an orbital sander.

Image Credit: HomeMade Modern

Tip

I happened to have this piece leftover from a previous project. Any scrap that you might have that is at least this length and width will do. If not, you can easily get this from your local hardware/lumber store. Sometimes they have their own scrap pile that you can look through and get smaller pieces, such as this one, for a low price.

Step 16

Use a piece of sandpaper to "break" or slightly soften the sharp edges.

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Step 17

Wipe away all sawdust.

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Step 18

Apply one coat of polycrylic finish.

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Tip

If you wish to apply a second coat, give the board a light sanding in between coats. Be sure to wipe the board clean before applying the second coat.

Step 19

Once the polycrylic finish is completely dry, center the copper assembly on the board.

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Step 20

Attach the copper assembly to the board using four copper tube straps and 1/2-inch screws.

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Flip the rack over and attach to the legs. Bask in the glory of your accomplishment.

You can attach this rack to your bathroom wall with 8 to 12 1/2-inch copper tube straps.

Image Credit: HomeMade Modern
Image Credit: HomeMade Modern
Image Credit: HomeMade Modern
Image Credit: HomeMade Modern
Image Credit: HomeMade Modern
Image Credit: HomeMade Modern

The HomeMade Modern Team

Ben and Jessie Uyeda are a brother and sister team who teach people how to make affordable modern furniture by publishing DIY design videos online. Ben brings a professional background in architecture and digital media while Jessie pulls from her experiences as a former lumber jack and mill worker.