DIY: Photo Clothesline

How to spruce up a wall with easily changeable photos

May 29, 2016

Diy Photo Clothesline

Since repainting our bedroom last fall, we’ve talked about ways to better highlight our favorite photos on the largest wall. The obvious solution was to buy a bunch of frames and fill up the wall, but that can get costly pretty quickly. We’ve used Fracture for a few other projects and really like the results, but filling an entire wall with Fractures could also add up.

I’d seen a few projects on Pinterest and elsewhere of a “photo clothesline” and liked the idea. After searching quite a bit though, I didn’t really find either a) any DIY projects that looked quite as nice as I wanted or b) any consumer products big enough (and affordable enough). The DIY options typically involved a nail and some twine, and the consumer products were rarely longer than 2-3 feet in length.

I decided I’d have to wing it and make my own. As it turns out, it wasn’t too hard!

Materials (per clothesline):
  • 2 plinth blocks
  • 2 screw eye hooks
  • 1 6' length of 1/8" steel cable
  • 2 1/8" ferrules
  • Set of small clothespins
Tools:
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Stud finder
  • Cable cutter
  • Crimping tool or heavy duty pliers
  • Screwdriver

Instructions

This is a ferrule.

First, I found the studs on our wall and measured the distance between them. This helped me determine how long my cables should be. (It was roughly 5' so I ended up getting a 6' cable - your distance may vary.) I bought the materials on a rainy day at the nearest hardware store. You can find plinth blocks in the trim/molding section. I originally planned to use a nice length of trim for either side of the clothesline. As I looked over the trim, though, my eye kept getting drawn to the plinth blocks. I found the ferrules right above the cable in the hardware section. (You can see it pictured here.)

I chose to use screw eye hooks so I could screw them through the plinth blocks and directly into the stud. I believe I had a 3" length, but I’d recommend at least twice the depth of your plinth block. I also like a smaller eye on the hook so it’s not drawing a ton of attention. (And so the cable has a short range of distance from top to bottom.

At home, I pre-drilled all of my plinth blocks directly through the center from the back of the block. (Measure twice, drill once!) Pre-drilling from the back popped the rounded center of my block off. (You can see a tan spot around each screw that I’ll paint white over soon.) Next, I threaded the screw eye hooks into the hole.

I chose a height that felt good for the top clothesline and found the stud. I predrilled a hole into it. Then I screwed my eye hooks in. Holding the plinth block in place by hand, I ran a normal screwdriver through the eye and used it as a lever to turn the screw.

Once the first plinth block was screwed into place, I added a cable by threading it through the eye and wrapping it back. I pre-threaded one end of the cable through the ferrule then ran the other end through the other side of the ferrule. I crimped it shut with a set of heavy duty pliers. I then trimmed off the short leftover end of cable.

I had my wife hold up the cable (threaded through another and used a level to gauge the right height for the other side of the clothesline. We checked the level directly and by eye a couple times just to be sure. I then marked the spot on the stud again to place my plinth block. I rinsed and repeated with the pre-drilling, screwing, threading the cable, and crimping the ferrule into place. The main difference between the first and second was that I held the cable tightly while threading it into the ferrule and crimping it. On this side, I had quite a bit more leftover cable.

From there, I measured 7" straight down (using the level) for the next set of plinth blocks. If you want to use 5x7 or even larger photos, you may want to measure 10-15" instead. I’m really happy with the results, though I wish I’d taken a few more photos of the steps along the way. (I’ll try to remember that for my next project.) If you make something based on this, be sure to let me know.