Excluding the unpleasant prospect of hanging clothes outdoors to dry during cold winter months, you will find that an outdoor clothesline can have some definite advantages, such as its economy and the fresh, outdoor smell your clothes will get from air drying outside. If this appeals to you and if you'd like to dry your laundered clothes on an old fashioned outdoor clothesline, you may be surprised to learn that you can construct a one easily in a two-day period of time.
The instructions below are intended for construction of the T-bar type of clothesline. The advantage of this type is that it can hold virtually as many clothes as you'd like it to hold. Its only limitations are the space it will take up in your yard and the tensile strength of its clotheslines. The more wet clothes hanging from the lines, the greater the strain will be.
Step 1 - Locate Your Clothesline
Choose a site where the clothesline will be out of sight of visitors or passersby. Also, find a location that is free of trees to avoid sap or bird droppings falling on your hanging clothes.
Step 2 – Create Lap Joint on Main Pole
The T-bar for this clothesline is going to be fitted together like a set of Lincoln logs, with two gaps in two pieces of lumber pushed together.
First, mark nine inches down on the main post of your T-bar and square it across. Then, set your other 4x4 piece perpendicular to this post and line it up with your mark. Drag the pencil along the other end to create the outline for your first lap joint.
With a circular saw set to exactly half the depth of the 4x4, make cuts along the two lines you’ve marked and at several increments in between the two. Take a hammer and break the wood remnants out of the lap joint once you’re finished cutting, using a small chisel to clean up what’s left.
Step 3 – Cut Lap Joint on Cross Section
Trim your 4x4 for the cross section down to about six feet across. Then, you’re going to create another lap joint on this piece that will fit together with the one on the main pole. Measure exactly half of the cross section, 36 inches, and mark. Take your measuring tape and make another mark 1 3/4 inches out from either side of this middle line. Cut this lap joint and clean it out the same way you did the previous one.
Step 4 – Fit the Lap Joints Together
Line up the lap joints on both the cross section and the main pole. Lay them together as straight as you can, and begin hammering them together. You will want to put a small piece of scrap wood between the head of the hammer and your clothesline pieces so you don’t damage the wood, and you’ll need to move around the joint as you work to tap it into place as evenly as possible.
Step 5 – Cut and Add Bracers
It’s a good idea to give structural support to the T-bar with two diagonal bracers that run from the cross section to the main pole. To do this, you will want a piece of 2x4 lumber that you can cut into two 29 inch pieces. Trim the ends of these bracers down to a 45-degree angle so they will fit snugly against the pieces.
To secure the bracers to the cross section and pole, you will want to use some type of exterior screw since this clothesline will be exposed to weather all year round. Decking screws, two to three inches should be perfect. Install these with an electric screwdriver.
Step 6 – Add Hooks
Buy a few heavy-duty hooks, clothesline pulleys, clothesline tightener, and clothes line, all of which you should be able to buy at a home improvement store. For now, set all but the hook aside, as you’ll string those up later. Drill guide holes in your T-bar, spacing them apart as desired, and screw the hooks into the wood. These will serve as the places to attach the rest later.
Step 7 - Plan Your Posts and Post Holes
For the T-bar version of clothesline, you'll need to dig two holes, each about two feet deep. Unless you know where your underground power lines or telephone lines are buried, you should call your local utility companies to help you locate them, so that you can avoid accidentally severing one or more of these. When you dig your holes, make them larger in diameter at the bottom than at the top. This will help prevent your poles from loosening after they are planted.
Step 8 - Add Cement to Your Holes
Pour dry post hole cement mix into the post hole, add water, and mix it until you get the right consistency. Leave four inches of space above the surface of your concrete and the top of the hole, as planting your post in the wet concrete will cause the concrete surface to rise.
Step 9 - Planting Your Posts
Plant your post down through the wet concrete until it rests solidly on the bottom of the hole. Then, using your twine, stakes, hammer, and level, stake the pole to keep it plumb until the concrete sets. Plant your second pole the same way.
Step 10 – String Your Clothesline
Once the cement has had ample time to cure, it’s time for you to hang your clothes line. Attach the edge of the pulleys on the hooks you installed earlier and string your line around them. Fasten the ends together with your tightener and adjust until you get the level of tension you want. Repeat this for as many lines as you intend to add.