DIY: Minimalist Copper Clothes Rack


Being from Cleveland, I'm interested in repurposing forgotten but valuable industrial materials. It's as much a part of my heritage as kimchi and compulsive cleaning. I want most of what I consume- from plywood project boards and hairpin legs to organic produce- to be diverted from landfills (but more on that later). I guess that's the same as secondhand. The only difference now is, I don't want to have to pay for things.

I've wanted a garment rack as long as I've had a Pinterest account, but I could never justify getting one because I had closets. Then I was given two ten foot copper pipes by the owners association of an old building, stamped "Chase Brass & Copper Co.," from the tube mill on E. 260th in Cleveland. They originally wanted to throw them away. Instead I took them to Home Depot for cutting (it's easy to cut copper, just twist the clamp thing or use a hacksaw. I don't have a cutter and didn't want to buy one, though). Technically Home Depot is supposed to charge $3 and up per cut, but they were nice and did everything for free. One girl even complimented my hair! Eventually my goal is to have a complete set of nomadic furniture that transports easily and assembles / disassembles quickly without tools or screws, using minimal material with the least environmental impact.



To prevent wasted tubing, I had them cut one 10' pipe in half and the other into two 42" pieces and four 9" pieces. I bought four unpackaged 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch 90 degree elbows, two 3/4 inch pressure tees, and two 3/4" tube caps. There was gum, grease, and some unidentifiable animal fur stuck to the pipes, which I cleaned with lemon and salt. Put salt on a lemon slice and rub directly- you could also use vinegar, though it's less acidic and won't clean copper as well. Attach elbows to the top of the 5' foot pieces, connecting them with a 42" pipe. Insert 5' pieces in the tees, then 9" pieces with caps. On the other side of each tee, attach 9" pieces with elbow joints, and connect with the final 42" piece. I was going to make a gif showing how I assembled it but I thought that would be patronizing so I ate a pizza instead.

I've never done a DIY here before because frankly, if I can avoid doing something myself, I will. This is so easy, though- a child could do it, and they'd probably do a better job than I did. I want to DIY a copper Le Corbusier sofa like Jorge Pardo next! This project cost me $8, $10 if you count gas money, lemons and salt. Buying new material would cost about $55, more if you wanted 1" pipes. But I see a lot of people throw away copper and other valuable materials like they're nothing, because they don't have the time to take them to the scrap yard or in some cases don't even think to.


Paris to Go

28 comments:

  1. Yeah, cool! I always wanted to have 1 as well, but not a chance - there are always wardrobes in my apartments!
    And what is this place where you took shots? The same "Chase Brass & Copper Co.," ? The stile is exactly like I want for my own apartment ( if I ever manage to buy one)! Enjoy your rack!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I rented a place with exposed brick, I love this industrial style! I think Chase is probably closed down or abandoned or destroyed by now sadly :(

      Delete
  2. This looks really cool but if you are going into old industrial sites please exercise caution as you may get exposed to asbestos from old building materials. There is so much of it about (sorry, I work in the asbestos management industry and I am now at the stage where I can spot it or stuff that might contain it everywhere. It's a disease.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so sweet don't be sorry! That actually sounds extremely interesting. I'm actually trying to get a local corporation to clean up these old industrial sites- one in particular that has been used as a garbage dump for years and can only be accessed by climbing a three story pile of garbage with trees growing out of it. Community associations have tried saving them as a means of stabilizing the neighborhood and I'm hoping with this corporation behind them they can finally be turned into something useful. But I see the asbestos! They make us wear tons of masks and equipment because they don't want the liability if something happens to us in the old buildings.

      But the building I got the pipes from is actually a residential building that's been continuously used and meticulously restored. The pipes had never been used so I felt ok using them- I don't know how to clean, say, treated pallets or stuff like that so I only take things I'm sure are safe or that I can clean properly.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your lovely reply! Yeah abandoned and dilapidated buildings are a huge problem over here in the UK too. I'm so glad that you have safety gear to wear - whenever I get asked about my job there's always someone who knows someone who died from a related disease (like I met a guy once who had 11 aunts & uncles and 10 of them had died from asbestos related diseases. It was horrible).

      Anyway, I really enjoyed your sugaring article, especially as I hate shaving my thighs - hoping to try it out tonight!

      Delete
    3. That is so sad... you do great work! I forgot to say if the sugar gets too sticky apply anyway and use a cloth strip to rip off... so smooth and guaranteed to prevent shaving for weeks lol

      Delete
  3. Actually, here in Poland collecting scrap metal from unused buildings and even residential waste disposal sheds is a thriving business for people who have difficulty holding a job (for many reasons: addictions, homelessness etc.). Also, if you want to get rid of anything still usable, you can just leave it by the dumpster and it's quickly gone. Circular economy in a postcommunist country.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, I love that (Japan and Korea used to be like that but not so much anymore I heard). People just want new though now. This morning I saw two beautiful bamboo couches in the trash in perfect condition. The homeowner said she just bought new ones and didn't have the room anymore so this was the easiest thing to do. I wanted to rescue them so badly but I was on my to work and had no room in my car :(

      Delete
  4. Nice! This looks so easy and now I want to make one too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My goal is to reach where you are. I want to be able to sustain myself with recycling/ repurposing other's junk and turning into something fresh! I love this.

    Natalie | http://nataliesalchemy.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love your posts more and more. I especially loved the pizza part. :-) <3

    ReplyDelete
  7. I feel like this is going to get pinned! Love your blog-- I have a long way to go before getting to zero waste, but I've started taking some small steps-- like grocery shopping, and bringing my own cup everywhere.

    Anyway, as soon as you talked about nomadic furniture, I immediately thought of butterfly chairs if you were to find more copper pipes and maybe some usable upholstery material....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a good idea! I love butterfly chairs and found some Knoll hardoy legs secondhand actually...

      Delete
  8. This is such an inspiration. I've seen more or less the same rack on Etsy for £125!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw those too! I saw one like this in a store once roo but it was smaller. I know artist's work and talent is worth a lot, but the markup is just too high in this one, a child could do it (including the copper cutting actually)

      Delete
  9. Nobody will ever throw away copper pipes in here (Russia), sigh...
    But I just love it how the universe grants you everything you need, putting up with your zero-waste values :)
    I just moved into a tiny house and my BF is building all the furniture for us, for most of it he uses the wood we found in the attic. Unfortunately most of that wood has been beaten by wood bugs so badly that you can't build anything with it :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh so wonderful! Not the wood bugs part but the rest of it. What a treasure you found :) I want to build all my own furniture too!

      Delete
  10. I love the look of copper racks, but I always wondered if the material would be strong enough to hold much in terms of weight. I know you used 3/4" tubing, but how thick are the walls of the tubing you used?

    ReplyDelete
  11. They're about 0.06 inches thick- I read on etsy that you're not supposed to overload them but I've seen a clothing rack this in store that I imagine gets a lot of abuse. The guy at Home Depot said he was going to replace his closet rod with copper tubing though!

    ReplyDelete
  12. When you wash your face with only water, does it ever get dry? I tried using jojoba oil, but that broke me out, along with the other oils I've tried and not having to deal with acne would be really nice. I already have a lovely wooden closet rod, but if I didn't, I'm sure I would make this copper rack! Your creativity always impresses me :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So my face doesn't get dry but my scalp can get really dry if I wash too much... I only wash my face once a day at night, my skin really needs to rest in the morning! I imagine if I washed twice a day it would dry out. Oils do break me out but drinking tons of water seems to help. Sorry I couldn't be more help! And thank you!!

      Delete
    2. No worries! It's all helpful info. Do you think not moisturizing would give me more wrinkles? I'm young and don't have any right now but I'm still nervous about them, even though I try to remind myself that in the big picture they aren't that significant.

      Delete
    3. Sorry about the very late response I didn't see this before! I think staying out of the sun will be your best bet against wrinkles. Eating lots of good fats and I heard drinking a spoonful of oil a day (like flax) can help keep skin plump and well moisturized. Aw that's such a good attitude but nothing wrong with trying to prevent them :)

      Delete
  13. This is/you are brilliant! Here in the UK thieves do go for copper pipes as well as car stereos etc - I've even heard of people stealing the gas pipes off occupied houses (risking an explosion), and copper statues being stolen and melted down. So I'd be v surprised to find such long pieces of unused piping lying around... But if I do, I'll know what to do with them. The detail of yours being stamped from a local firm is extra cool!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for your sharing. Thanks to this article I can learn more things. Expand your knowledge and abilities. Actually the article is very practical. Thank you!
    despacito lyrics ,
    color switch

    ReplyDelete