Thursday, 24 November 2016

Antique style clothes airer / horse...

It's the time of year when putting the washing out on the washing line isn't really practical, it'll probably end up wetter than when you started, so how about making a clothes horse / airer, which if I'm honest is something I've been meaning to do for ages.

Yes we could have bought one, but we don't really like the wire ones and the wooden ones you can buy more often than not can be made quite cheaply and then there's the look of the thing, the modern ones don't really fit with most of the stuff we have in our house, so we made an old looking one.

Here it is -

Really simple and cheap to make.
It's made from 19mm x 38mm batten which you can buy in packs of eight from some diy shops the pack we bought cost £12.10, which makes each 2.4 metre length around £1.51 each and we used six lengths, so the wood for this cost about £9, I did also buy some upholstery tacks for £1 (because I forgot I already had some) so the whole thing cost £10 which isn't bad.

Making it is easy, basically you need four long pieces for the legs and then (in our case) six pieces to make the bars, and what you're aiming for is something that looks a bit like a ladder.

Here's a small diagram with some measurements - 

Click for a larger image.

I made the uprights 52 inches (132cm) and the bars 24 inches (60cm) which makes the whole thing  just over four feet high and four feet wide, this was because when we have the heating on the horse will pretty much cover one of our larger radiators.

The spacing for the bars was worked out roughly, I measured from the top down 4 inches  (10cm) for the top bar and from the bottom up 12 inches (30cm) for the bottom bar, and then just divided the distance between the top and bottom bars for the middle bar.

The reason for leaving a little bit above the top bar is to stop washing sliding off the top bar when the horse is moved.

I used a mitre saw to cut the wood, and my daughter helped, this is a really simple build, no fancy joints or anything like that, the wood was just screwed and glued together.

Work commences - 

Time for some measuring.

After a bit of cutting we have what we need, on to fixing - 

Now for some screws and glue.

After marking out where the bars were going to go the next step was to find the centres where we needed to drill for the screws, I used a home made centre marker (you can find loads of different ones online) it's basically a bit of wood with two pegs either end and a pencil in the middle.

Once marked out I used a screw digger to make the holes, screw diggers are basically a drill bit with a built in counter sink, it saves time not having to switch between drill bit and counter sink, I tend to use one that gives me an 8mm counter sink so that I can cover the screws with wooden plugs.

Screws in - 

The holes will be filled.

First section built - 

Rinse and repeat.

Both sections done - 

Now on to the decoration.

First thing to do now it's all fixed together is to fill the screw holes, I haven't made the plugs fit flush, instead I've left them a little proud as this gives the whole thing a more arts and crafts type look. The plugs are just 1cm lengths of 8mm dowel (hence the use of the 8mm screw digger) and after rounding off one end I glued them into the screw holes.

Plugs cut - 

Pine plugs, fiddly but worth the effort.

Plugs glued in place - 

Just a small detail, but it works with the overall look of the thing.

Once the screw holes were covered I sanded (with the help of my daughter) the two frames and rounded off the ends, after that it was on to making it look a little less brand new.

I use a homemade stain to make the wood look a bit more aged, it's basically white vinegar with some wire wool in it, which after being left a while gives the wood a slightly orange appearance and when a dark wax (Black Bison Dark Oak) is applied it gives the finished look more depth, at least I find it does.

One section stained, onto the next - 

White vinegar makes a cheap wood stain.

Once the stain has dried I then applied a coat of dark oak coloured wax, and after that I polished the two sections with a natural beeswax polish, and then it was on to the hinges which are made of leather believe it or not, although metal hinges would do just as well.

I did do some research into vintage and antique clothes horses and found that most of them had some kind of material to act as a hinge, from canvas to leather, and seeing as we have some leather scraps I went for leather, which is just tacked onto each section with upholstery tacks.

Like so, it works and helps to make it look older - 

It's fixed in a kin of 'S' shape.

It looks a bit too new in this picture, but as the leather ages it'll look better, it's a simple way of allowing you to open and close the clothes horse and it stops it falling over, I did also add a small brass catch I had lying about to keep the frame closed when not it use, but a loop of string over the top would do just as well.

Small catch - 

Stops it from flapping about when you move it.

We have been using it quite a lot recently and it's doing what it should, so far we've kept it in our utility room, which as well as a small radiator also houses the boiler which creates a fair bit of heat and clothes seem to be drying quite quickly where it is, and it's right by the back door should the sun make an appearance.

Thanks for reading.


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