Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Horsing around

By Justin Newcombe

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Making a clothes horse is simpler than you'd think, writes Justin Newcombe.

Justin Newcombe shows off his easy-to-construct clothes horse. Photo / Richard Robinson
Justin Newcombe shows off his easy-to-construct clothes horse. Photo / Richard Robinson

Here's a project that's got "I'll just whip that up in a jiffy, love" written all over it, requiring a few lengths of timber, a bit of sanding, some gluing and bit of screwing to finish things off.

Well, I've made sure that's what you're going to experience, because if there is any way I could have made this harder than it needed to be, I couldn't find it - and believe me my research was extensive.

Short of building it under water or with the clothes pre-attached, feel free to make suggestions. As it turns out the clothes horse is a series of frames, joined together to form an "A" frame structure.

The best tip I can give is to let the glue dry properly on the frames before you put the clothes horse together. Otherwise, as I found, it's collapsible in an abstract, non-retractable, unintentional kind of way.

The other main point is that the frames are all the same size even though they fit inside each other. How so? They are staggered, so if one side of a frame is on the inside of another it will be on the outside on the opposite side.

Attaching the frames together is a simple task of drilling a hole right through the top of all of the frames and pushing a length of dowelling through to act as a hinge.

Once the clothes horse is opened up to form the "A" shape the smaller frames will need supports to hold them open.

I used a piece of dowelling for this with a clip at the top of the larger frame to hold the dowelling support when the clothes horse is stowed away.

Step 1

Cut timber to length. I used 45mm x 20mm pine, but you could use a smaller profile. I cut four 1200mm lengths for the larger frames and four 600mm for the smaller ones. Use a sander on a jig to round the ends and sand the edges so the timber is nice to handle.

Step 2

Mark, tape (the tape stops the hole from chipping) and drill the holes for the dowelling. My dowelling is 13mm so my hole is 13mm.

Use a drill bit that leaves a flat bottom to the hole. Unless you've got a drill press its easier to drill right through the timber. If you do this make sure you tape the back of the hole as well as the front.

My holes are 200mm apart and I've left a space with no dowelling between the top hinge and the first dowelling that the smaller frame can swing into when the clothes horse is stowed away.

Step 3

Cut the 10 pieces of dowelling to the same length (mine are 800mm, but you could make them shorter for a smaller space). Add six times the width of your timber frame to the longer dowel for the hinge (I used 20mm timber, so added 120mm, making it 920mm). Glue and inset them into the frame.

Step 4

Once the frames a properly dry, set them up with the two smaller frames on the inside and the two larger frames on the outside and insert the dowelling hinge.

Step 5

Attach the support arms with a screw and nut. Attach a spring clip to the smaller wing frame (I used a 12mm one to grip the 13mm dowel firmly).

Step 6

Tie a length of string to the bottom rails of the frame to stop the frame opening up too far.

- NZ Herald

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