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Help me design a Clothes Line

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  • Help me design a Clothes Line

    hey guys.

    i want to make a clothes line like this,
    except i'll be making it out of 1 inch square tubing.

    i remember we had one of these when i was a kid, and it used some kind of pulley system that i don't remember the details about. After I make the basic clothese line like the one above, what route should i go for stringing up some lines? i was thinking about welding a several eye bolts to the thing. But I know when you put wet clothes on the line they will sink down close to the ground if you don't have a pulley system to crank that line tighter?

    any suggestions on what to buy from home depot? thanks

  • #2
    You don't need a pulley system unless you don't want walk to the other end.

    You just need a Turn Buckle to tighten up the line.

    Pick up steel rings instead of Eye Bolts.

    Most are Zinc Plated or Hot Dipped, which will need to be removed to weld up-

    They may have Weldable rings- look for those first- much easier to weld up since you do not need to remove any coating.

    1" tubing is going to require some type of Truss design to afford enough strength.
    Last edited by Broccoli1; 10-04-2008, 06:07 PM.


    • #3
      I wouldn't use 1" square either. Maybe 1.5" round on the small side - I'd go for 2" or better. You might be able to get some aluminized exhaust tube that would work, but expect to pay for it.

      The strength in these shapes comes from the diameter and shape, not the wall thickness. You could use 1" solid bar and it might not deflect too much, but it would also cost you dearly on acquisition expense. Conversely, you can buy larger tubing with a .060 wall that will be more rigid than your 1" square and cost far less.

      Water is heavy. The lines sag because there's a buttload of weight on them when you start hanging soaked clothes and blankets on them. You'll want something substantial in the ground to anchor whatever you end up making.

      Our house had a retractable line with a removable pole which ended up being dug out when I put the shop addition on. The base receptacle for the 2" upright was about a 5 gal bucket sized piece of concrete with a pipe receiver in it. The concrete was buried 2' down, and our lines were only about 15' (I think there was 4 lines in the thing).


      • #4
        My neighbors is 3" gal pipe 2 Ts ,4 caps,4 24" arms 2 8' uprights and about 6 sacks of ready mix. cable is attached with 8 eye bolts through the pipe. You could dry a VW engine on it.


        • #5
          Also, any of that chinese steel that you buy at home depot will cost you three times more than at a metal yard.......and remember the junkyard is the cheapest place to get steel.


          • #6
            I have to agree with these guys, you dont want to use 1" square stock, use 2" round minimum. You not only have the water weight but the pressure from the wind. Where you fasten it in the ground will be the first place it snaps off. If you use 2" round you can make some nice designs so it doesnt look like 20,000 others out there, make some kind of scroll design for your gussets
            Last edited by KBar; 10-05-2008, 06:29 AM.


            • #7
              what about a piece of (smallish) ibeam or channel?

              just curious



              • #8
                Channel is pretty flexible.


                • #9
                  Lightweight I-beam will probably twist without some bracing.

                  How about using drill stem? Around here it's fairly cheap for the strength.

                  You're going to need some sort of horizontal bracing. To keep the line from sagging you'll need a lot of tension. Assuming all the load is hung in the middle of the wire, tension = 0.25 * weight * length / sag (if I remember my physics and math correctly). So a 50 lbs load of laundry in the middle of a 20ft line with 1/2 foot of sag will give you 500 lbs of tension.
                  Even with a large concrete base, if it's in soil it will creep and the pole will eventually lay over. A simple diagonal pipe from the top down to another smaller concrete base will solve the problem. This also gives a nice lever arm to help resist twisting when you only hang laundry on the wire on one side of the tee.

                  You might also consider stainless wire/cable so you don't get rust spots on your clothes. Galvanized steel might work on also. The wire/cable should be tied or clamped so you won't be welding the galvanized.


                  • #10
                    ok, well i actually found the hardware at walmart of all places- i got S hooks, one pulley, and a volleball/clothes line tensioner.

                    I was doing this project on the cheap so I did use my 8 feet long 1 inch square tubing- but that was all i had so i followed one of the earlier post's advice and bought a 2 1/2" gavanized fence post. I also had some angle iron, so the angle iron got welded on top of both posts for the horizontal supports that the clothes line attaches to.

                    Well you guys do know your stuff, but i had to be frugal. When I tighten the clothes line- the 2 1/2" round fence post stays nice and strong doesn't lean. I'm amazed at how much my square tubing post bends! I'd guess the top of that post flexes in toward the other pole a good 2 or 3 inches from its base! So you guys were right on that that wasn't the best choice. I'll take some pics soon so you guys can get a good laugh and prove you know your stuff.

                    But, now my wife is not using the dryer and we should be seeing some electricity bill savings next month!

                    thanks for your replies


                    • #11
                      i used steel cable encased in plastic. its a little more $$ up front but 6 years latter its still on the poles and no rust problems. the first 2 year's i went threw several nylon and rope options. seems like i got the steel in plastic cable from a big box store like home depot, but cant remember. i'm in NY so my line is exposed to all weather as i leave it up all year around.most rope options didnt make it threw a summer, the steel cable in plastic was a great investment in time and $ in the long run.

                      i used cable ties and twist tensioner like you would use on a sagging gate.


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