Constructing a new clothes line has been on the to-do list for quite some time. Quite unexpectedly, that chore moved up the list, and I am now the proud owner of a much better clothes line than I previously had.
Here’s how we did it:
- 100′ of clothes line cable
- An oak tree
- 6″ by 10′ green treated post (reused from an old horse pen)
- 4 pulleys
- 4 threaded 3″ hooks
- 2 pieces of 4′ long 2×6 boards
- 2 3/8″x4″ lag bolts
- Tape measure
- Ratchet and sockets
- Soldering torch
- Wire strippers
We normally reuse items we’ve already got on the homestead for just about all of our projects. However, we strongly felt that actual clothes line cable would last longer and work better than any rope we had. I also really wanted the pulleys so that I could stand in place and put all the laundry up (or down), without walking to the next section of line and dragging the basket around with me. I’d advise anyone to purchase these particular items, rather fashion something yourself.
To get started, measure a 24 foot distance from each pole (we used a tree), and put your second pole there. Since we have harsh winters that get very cold (downwards toward -30 degrees F), we wanted to dig down between 3 to 4 feet. If we lived in a mild climate, 2 feet would probably have been fine.
Plant your pole at just a little bit of an angle away from the other pole, not plumb. Make sure to tamp in your dirt tight as you are planting your pole. (You could use cement first, if you’d like.)
Now mark the centers of both of your cross-arms (2×6″ boards). Also measure and mark 4-5″ in from each end of your cross-arms (this is where the pulleys will attach later). Drill a hole at the center of the board at each mark using one size larger bit than the diameter of the screw corresponding with each one. (We used 5/16″ hook and 3/8″ lags.) Do this on both 2×6″ boards.
Determine what height you want your clothes lines themselves. Since I will be doing all the laundry, I picked a comfortable height to have my arms up. You’ll want to tailor this to whomever is going to be doing the laundry in your household. Measure and mark both poles (or trees). We didn’t care that the line is not level since we live on a slope. You decide that part for yourself.
Attach your cross-arms (to the outside of your poles/trees) by screwing the lag bolt through the hole you drilled in the center of your cross-arm into the pole. Make sure it is level, and then tighten it. Do not use an impact driver or you can/will either strip your hole or ruin your lag bolt. Repeat for the other pole.
Next, insert your hooks into the ends of your cross-arms (they should face the opposing sides). Place all four. You just want them in enough to get the nut started on the back, but not all the way yet.
Take a deep breath. Here comes the fun part.
On one pole, place your pulley onto your hook and run 50 feet of clothes line through. Put the other pulley on your same line, and get both ends of the line. At this point, hold the lines in place (up to your cross-arm) to double check your length before going any further. It is easier to adjust/move your pole now than to make any other adjustments later.
Take your wire strippers and strip 1-2 inches of the plastic covering off of the cable.
Untwist the strands of cable, aim them at each other, slide them together until the end hits the insulation, and then twist them to each other. The tighter–the better. Use pliers if you need to.
You need someone who has welding knowledge to assist with the next part if you are unfamiliar. This article is not designed to teach you proper technique.
Light your soldering torch. Now, while holding your twisted ends together using both hands, you also need to hold your solder in your dominant hand using your index and thumb.
Hold your cable close enough to the flame to heat it, while at the same time touching your solder to the cables so that when the solder melts, you can remove it from the heat. (Click the picture to enlarge.) Continue to apply solder until your cable is completely encased. It does not need to be the thickness of your insulation. It just needs to be coated.
Give it a second or minute to cool.
Now is the fun part. Untwist your clothes line if you need to so that you have an eliptical and your wires are not crossed. Put your second (unattached) pulley on the hook. The first one is easy 🙂 .
Repeat this process with your second set of pulleys and 50 feet of clothes line. It is not as easy to get your second pulley to attach to the hook. It took one of us pushing a cross-arm in and the other to attach the pulley to the hook.
If you have slack, you can use the nuts (that you didn’t tighten earlier) to tension your lines. Beware that threads have a lot of pulling power (i.e. don’t get all John Wayne and snap your line).
You are done!
The Farmer was so sweet as to knock out a quick table for me to set my laundry on. I highly advise having one (or a really big flat rock), to keep you from all the bending over. It can really take a toll on your back over the years. And when you’re pregnant… forget about it.
Overall, I am quite pleased with this project and know that as long as the weather permits I will be using it quite often.