One Man's Junk - A recycled flag pole

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Project by Al Navas posted 07-08-2008 04:50 AM 5026 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

From my blog:

In our front yard we have a wonderful 20-foot tall flag pole, the second one in the yard. The following is the replacement flag pole, installed last year – make a mental note of the golden ball at the very top of the pole:

The old flag pole failed during a storm last year; strong winds brought it down. But Sandy kept it, knowing what she wanted to do with it. Her instructions to me were something like this: “Get some 2 X 4s, cut them so each half is about 4 feet long, and make me something with four corners, preferably overlapping in the middle. And please drill a hole in the middle, to accept a 1/2-inch dowel. Oh – NO finish on this piece!”

At this point I had NO idea what she was up to; I headed for the shop, cut the 2 X 4s into two separate pieces 45 inches long, marked the center line for each length, measured the average width at the center of each piece, and took them to the table saw. After 10 minutes on the table saw I had perfectly-fitting cross laps in each half to accept the other; added a little glue, and clamped for about 2 hours.

I removed the clamps, marked the center point accurately, and drilled the hole with a 1/2-inch Forstner bit. At this point I realized that the assembly was to be mounted on top of the old flag pole, where the ball on the tip above the flag was. It was a little bit of a job to remove the aluminum ball from the 1/2-inch shaft, but I managed, by banging away with a mallet while holding the ball in a metal vise.

With the ball now removed, I tested the fit of the shaft in the wooden cross pieces. Perfect! A little snug, but a nice fit. A design note: To minimize the possibility of water getting in the glue line, I placed the wood assembly such that all the glued edges pointed downward. I have only one regret: There is no finish on this first unit; it is bare 2×4 pine – a real test of the suitability of bare pine outdoors in NW Missouri.

I took the whole thing back to the house, and Sandy proceeded to attach four purpose-purchased pizza pans lined on the top surfaces with some kind of mesh. She used rivets hammered through the pans into the wood, and pretty soon we were ready to install the new item, Patent Pending:

Sandy even dug the 3-foot deep hole to accept the old flag pole with the new bird feeder system, I mixed two bags of concrete, and poured. After a few hours we tried to raise the pole and lock it in place – a ball bearing is supposed to pop, to lock the inner tubes. In this manner the pole can be raised to its full 20-foot height. But, after sitting on the ground in one of the flower beds for several months, the ball bearing does not want to pop, even after applications of WD-40. We are still trying to figure out what to do.

I keep telling her she should apply for a patent, since we have a working prototype in place (even if we cannot raise the pole to its full height). Unfortunately, applying for a patent would require a few thousand dollars…

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

10 comments so far

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4419 days

#1 posted 07-08-2008 05:38 AM

Neat idea good luck with the ball bearing.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4409 days

#2 posted 07-08-2008 03:31 PM

Thanks, John.

Sandy now thinks we could drill through the sides and stick a large bolt in the hole, to hold up the two inner aluminum tubes at full height. I am afraid the pressure of clamps may cause the tubes to collapse while we drill; so, I am trying to think of alternatives.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View Kipster's profile


1076 posts in 4287 days

#3 posted 07-09-2008 12:26 AM

I have that style flag pole. Haven’t had the ball stick. I have been spraying wd-40 on it through the years . I hope this doesn’t happen to me.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Kip Northern Illinois ( If you don't know where your goin any road will take you there) George Harrison

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4278 days

#4 posted 07-09-2008 12:50 AM

Great idea. Just be advised, even if you get it to extend, the squirrels will still climb up to the top. Unless you grease the pole, which is another level of entertainment in it self. Thanks for the post.

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4409 days

#5 posted 07-09-2008 01:40 AM


This old flag pole lay in one of the flower beds for several months, until we retrieved just last week. So, there is probably mud, salts, and much more clogging up the works, I am sure ;-)



As far as I know, squirrels climb up or down a tree by using their claws to cling onto the bark. In the case of this pole, there is nothing on the surface that the claws can dig into, and therefore hold onto it. And, since they don’t have a prehensile hand (that is, a thumb that opposes the rest of the fingers in the hand), they cannot really shimmy up and pull themselves up the pole… I don’t think :-)

If I am wrong, I will have to activate Plan B and grease the bottom section of the pole. The grease gun is on standby, in the garage.

I hope someone can either confirm my theory, or dispel it. I would then have to find a better explanation for why the squirrels have not climbed this pole…........ yet ...

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4278 days

#6 posted 07-12-2008 05:18 AM

Al, all I can tell you is I had a bird feeder on a 10’ pole and after the squirrels figured out where the food on the ground was coming from, I would look out and see a squirrel sitting on the feeder chowing down. I wiped about a 3’ section of the pole at about the 3-6’ mark and watched the disbelief in their faces when they went shimmying up the pole and hit that slick spot. Priceless!

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4409 days

#7 posted 07-12-2008 01:39 PM


I bet that WAS priceless :-) . I got a good chuckle out of the mental image – Thanks!

Now I wonder if the cats or the dog might be keeping the squirrels at bay, or whether it IS something else. What kind of pole did you have on your feeder?

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4278 days

#8 posted 07-12-2008 06:53 PM

Al, it was a section of the galvanized top rail for chain link fencing. Maybe they were able to get a grip on the slightly rough surface of the pipe.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4833 days

#9 posted 07-13-2008 06:36 PM

Great idea!

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Grumpy's profile


25767 posts in 4385 days

#10 posted 08-05-2008 01:16 AM

Great job. Good luck in the contest.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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