Keeping you posted

Once the crossbeams are done on our clothesline, it’s time to cut the posts.  I happened to have a 6×6 beam lying around.  It was sixteen feet long (!) and so that would yield two 8′ tall posts.  Since I’m making this clothesline for my vertically challenged wife, it can’t be that tall…


This side of the bridle joint is pretty large, but workable with a larger saw than most people use.  I used my 28″ ripsaw to cut the sides of the joint, then bored through the root of the joint.  Then, a little chisel work will clean up the very bottom and make it square.


After a little bit of fitting, the posts and beams fit together with only a little bit of tapping with a mallet.  I put the posts into the holes and tamped the clay back down around them.  You may want to make them splay away from each other just a bit, because the force of wind on laundry will pull at them a little.


I secured the crossbeams to the posts with weatherproof epoxy and a 1/2″ bolt, and then strung 1/8″ vinyl covered wire between eyebolts for the actual line.  For maximum longevity, the top of this assembly (especially the endgrain of the post) should be covered with flashing, and the whole thing painted.  I didn’t have any flashing lying around though, so I didn’t do that yet.  As it is, it should be fine until I can rustle some up later in the summer.



Scavenging skills

Once the postholes were excavated, I had to make the posts.  Actually, I first started on the crossbeams and the posts came later, but let’s not quibble.  These crossbeams are some treated 4×6 stubs that I’d been saving for…something.  I wasn’t sure what that would be at the time, but it’s totally not hoarding since I use stuff from my stash now and again.  The important part was that I didn’t have to buy timbers.  They’re expensive!


Once I’d cut the two crossbeams to length (36″ in this case), I cut out this half of the bridle joint that’s going to join the beam to the post.  The shoulders are important because they help provide stability under racking loads (of which there will be plenty, with the wind blowing wet blankets around).  The chisel in the picture is my beater chisel.  I use it when I’m working outside or if I’m working on wood that is damp and dirty.  I’m not usually dovetailing anything outside, so my bevel edge chisels get left in the tool roll and the old W. Butcher firmer chisel works just fine.  I put a handle on it that was a piece of old broken shovel handle and used a piece of copper water pipe for a ferrule and it’s been working well for me ever since.  Stingy, remember?


Even though the tools might seem crude, they get the job done.  And something like this is a good opportunity to work on your chisel-wielding skills.  Since I didn’t plane the surface of the timbers, they are dirty and rough. Therefore, I can’t use a router plane to true the inside face of the joint.  That all has to be trued by paring it flush with the chisel.  Take your time, and work systematically and it will work out.  To look for high spots, you can use a combination square to gauge across the joint.



I like to think of myself as a fairly conservation-minded individual.  Have I drunk the Kool-Aid eaten the tofu?  Not so much.  But I have a garden out back.  I ride a bicycle.  I turn the lights off when I’m in the room, let alone out of it.

I am also (in)famously miserly.  I pinch pennies so hard they turn into washers.  I have a garden out back because I don’t want to pay for vegetables.  I ride a bike because I don’t want to pay for gas.  I turn off the lights because who do you think is paying for those watts!?

One of the ways that these two philosophies came together today was in replacing my clothes dryer.  I did the math, and it worked out to almost a dollar to dry a load of clothes.  That means that I’m spending (with 3 loads/week average) a hundred and fifty dollars a year on drying clothes, while the back of a chair will do it for free!  On top of that, those kilowatt-hours are from the pollution-belching maw of coal-burning power plants which (so I’m told) are slowly turning the atmosphere into a noxious soup that will kill us all if it doesn’t cook us to death first.  Or get flooded out by the ice caps melting.  Or driven out by desertification.  Or eaten by the cannibalistic mobs that will form when society collapses from famine and–

Sorry.  I’ll dial it back a notch.  Or five.

Anyway, I decided to make use of the big solar clothes dryer outside.  Yup, the sun.  No pollutants (Eco) and free for the taking (stingy): perfect!  I started (like every project does) by laying out where I wanted the posts to go.  It’s about fifteen feet from the house, and the posts are twenty feet apart.


Then I started digging.  Using my trusty digging bar and clamshell posthole diggers, it doesn’t take too long.


It is a little awkward to work around my wife’s free range chickens, though.  While I’m trying to pile the spoil next to the hole, the critters are poking through it to find worms and grubs.  One of these days I’m going to whack one by accident and I’m going to get the multi-species evil eye.  However, so far this jobsite has gone 1 days without an accident.


The last thing for today was that I needed a few bits and bobs from the hardware store.  It was a nice day today, so I decided that I’d cut joinery later.  I hopped on the bike and went out to get the eyebolts and cable I needed.  My work vehicle might not carry quite as much as a Super Duty pickup, but at least it’s paid for.  And I don’t grumble about fueling it…