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DIY Folding Clothesline – Sturdier for a fraction of the price

004I’ve always liked hanging laundry out to dry – sure it’s a bit more work than tossing them in the dryer but it’s cheaper, the clothes last longer and they smell better.

When I moved into my current home a number of years ago there was no outside clothesline.  When I started examining the options I quickly dismissed both the long line and the square lines that sit in the middle of the lawn as too intrusive.  Instead I wanted a clothesline that could be bolted to the side of my garage and folded out of the way when not needed.

Folding Clothesline stowed flat

Folding Clothesline stowed flat

Now there does exist such a creature – a few models in fact – but all of them are rather pricey and some looked downright delicate.  Delicate is a definite non-starter here, I wanted to be able to load it up with a few loads of laundry without worrying about the potential for collapse.

So, instead of buying I build and installed an alternative in an afternoon from materials I had on hand.  Over the past seven years it has served exceptionally well – especially considering its low cost and the little time needed to fabricate and install it.

The heart of the unit is a frame made from 1 1/2″ angle iron – in this case the material is actually from bedframes that folks have tossed out.  The frame is made up of two segments 7′ long and another two segments 3′ long.  The two three foot segments form the sides of the frame while one 7′ segment forms one end, and the other 7′ segment forms the other end – but is inset 4″ from the end of the 3′ sides. Welding the frame together is a quick and easy matter.

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Measurement along the side of the frame for the folding clothesline

This frame is bolted at one end to the portions of the assembly that are bolted to the house.  These were made from some 3″ alumimum angle – but steel material could just as easily suffice.  If you have only narrower material that will work just fine, but you’ll want to install a wood spacer behind it to allow the clothes frame to pivot freely rather than bind against the house.

In my case I fixed 2×6 members to the wall since my studs didn’t line up with the spots for the placement of the fixed pieces.

You’ll need to loosely bolt the clothesline frame to the piece of angle that will be fixed to the house.  Another bolt or block needs to be secured at the lower end of the fixed piece of angle to hold up the free end of the arm that is bolted to the far end of the frame.

Fixed portion of the folding clothesline

Fixed portion of the folding clothesline

In my case this arm is 39 3/4″ long, but frankly this was established with all the other pieces in place and measuring the length of member needed to hold the frame level.

When everything is ready drill holes 4″ apart on the sides of the frame.  Then bolt everything in place and paint any steel pieces to protect against rust.  My preferred paint in this application is aluminum anti-rust paint.  It will last for several years and does a really effective job while also being cheap.

When the paint is dry thread your clothesline through the holes and get ready to hang your first load of laundry out.

If you don’t have a welder you can use angle iron to bolt the frame together, but if you look at the price of buying a commercial folding clothes line compared to the price of a wire feed welder from a place like Harbor Freight or Princess Auto it will become clear quickly that you can pay for the welder and needed safety kit on the basis of this project alone – and wire feed welders are exceptionally easy to use so don’t let that dissuade you. After this project I am sure you’ll start envisioning more potential projects for your new-found skills around your home or homestead.

 

 

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Forming curves in sheet metal without slip rolls

Sheet steel bent and welded to form shroud for the homestead grain mill

Sheet steel bent and welded to form shroud for the homestead grain mill

You might not expect this coming from someone who puts up a significant number of posts discussing tools and the projects that can be accomplished with them… deep breath – you can accomplish a lot without much in the way of tools.

Specialized tools can really speed up work and make projects easier – but you can accomplish some pretty cool things with very simple processes.  Case in point – forming curves aka radius bends in sheet steel would normally be done with slip rolls – but you can do a very acceptable work for a lot of jobs using only a piece of pipe mounted in a vice.  Sure it takes a bit longer than putting it through the rolls – but in a lot of cases it will get the job done just fine.

Build a grain mill

Build a grain mill

Frankly,  I really value the options and capacity my tools provide.  But, I have been building my workshop for over two decades, and while some folks might go out and drop several grand on tools it seems more reasonable to expect that most folks would want to dip their toes in the water first to see if doing more mechanical work is really something they want to take on before dropping big sums of cash (if they do have that financial freeboard).

Fortunately a lot can be done with relatively low cost tools and simple techniques.  I’m building another grain mill – this time for a friend so I decided I’d take a few short videos to show just how easy it is to build the grain mill since I know the finished product is probably pretty intimidating to most.  Check out the book Building the Homestead Grain mill for all of the detailed instructions on how you can build your own professional grade grain mill using simple tools.

 

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Essential power tools – the angle grinder

Welcome back to another “Tool Tuesday”.  Featuring prominently in the number three spot on our list of must have power tools is the angle grinder.

9" angle grinder and accessories

9″ angle grinder and accessories

The angle grinder is the power tool version of the hacksaw, the file and the wire brush all in one.  It is quite simply the most important tool to have in your shop if you are going to be working with metal (after the all purpose corded hand drill that was featured as the top must have tool of course).

There are multiple ways to join metal that are easy to accomplish including using pop rivets, metal screws and bolts – but before you start joining you need to have been able to form to shape and that means cutting and grinding and this is where the angle grinder shines.

You’ll want to pick up 1/8″ thick metal cutting disks, 1/4″ thick metal grinding disks and wire wheels (which make removing paint and rust a breeze).  If you are going to be cutting brick, concrete or tile you can pick up masonry cutting disks as well.

Now, you’ll find grinders come in a variety of sizes, from the 4 1/2″ models up to the beefier 9″ units.  While I have a smaller 5″ grinder my go to unit is a 9″ and it’s backup is a 7″.  For cutting and grinding disks I’ve pretty much standardized on 7″ diameter disks which I’ve found to be more common (and on sale more often) than the 9″ ones.  I also appreciate the extra power offered by the larger units.

That said,  the smaller ones are nice if you’ve got to work in tight spaces – such as under a vehicle or aren’t quite as comfortable with the heft and power of the larger ones.

Of course part of the process of determining what makes this list and where it ranks is price.  To give you an idea of the price these run between $20 and $65 at Harbor Freight as of now – without using one of their 20% off coupons they frequently circulate which would knock the price down to $16 to $52.

So if you don’t have an angle grinder yet pick one up today along with a selection of disks.