How To Build A Simple Clothesline

Want to add a useful and picturesque clothesline to your farm? Here are the steps for building a hard-working but very simple clothesline.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

You know the scene—the farmhouse on the hill, the grass waving in the wind, the horses grazing in their paddock, and the clothes drying on the clothesline.

What farm would be complete without a clothesline? While a clothes dryer is obviously a convenient machine to have (especially on rainy days or during the cold, snowy months of winter), there’s nothing wrong with having a traditional clothesline as a backup or for use during the summer.

Fortunately, building a simple clothesline is a relatively easy task that doesn’t require much in the way of supplies or tools. My grandfather once built a simple clothesline that has performed wonderfully for years—here are the steps needed to create a similar one on your farm.

Supplies Needed

  • 2 wooden posts, approximately 7 feet long
  • 2 wooden planks, approximately 8 feet long
  • 4 wooden planks, approximately 2 feet long
  • 8 eye hooks, similar to these
  • Lots of clothesline, similar to this

Step 1: Determine The Length Of Your Clothesline

How long should your clothesline be? The answer will determine the length of line you need for the project. Once you’ve chosen the overall length (let’s say 30 feet), multiply that length by the number of lines you wish to install to find how much line you’ll need to purchase. If you plan to install four lines, 120 feet (plus extra for each line to accommodate tying the lines in place) should be perfect.

Step 2: Install The Main Posts

Now that you’ve determined the length of your clothesline, you can use a post-hole digger or an auger to dig two holes, one for each end of the clothesline. Install your two wooden posts in these holes.

Step 3: Build The Clothesline Frame

Two wooden posts might be able to hold a single clothesline, but if you want to use multiple lines, you’ll need to add horizontal wooden planks to widen the scope. Attach the two 8-foot wooden planks to the tops of the wooden posts, forming a T-shape. You can also add two of the 2-foot planks to each post, arranging them diagonally to connect with the horizontal planks and serve as braces, though this step (while adding to the charm of the clothesline) might not be necessary.

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Step 4: Install The Eye Hooks

Simple eye hooks, large enough for the lines to thread through, will be perfect for attaching the lines to each end of the clothesline. If you intend to run four lines, install four evenly-spaced eye hooks on each of the 8-foot horizontal planks; you might want to use an electric drill to pre-drill holes to make it easier to screw the eye hooks into place.

Step 5: Attach The Lines

Now that the eye hooks are installed, you can string out the lines and tie them to each end of your clothesline. Add a supply of clothespins, and your new clothesline is ready to go.

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