Introduction

t o h master carpenter norm abram raising an in-ground flagpole
Photo: David Albanese
»
Long before fiberglass or extruded aluminum, craftsmen working in spar yards used lathes to turn wooden flagpoles—masts with landlubber destinies. Honoring this tradition, flagpole terminology still twists nautical: Flags are raised by sheaves (pulleys) and halyards (ropes) that are secured on cleats. Some poles even have double or step masts, yardarms (crossbars) and gaffs (extra spars perpendicular to the yardarms).

Although wood is the most historically authentic material for a flagpole, it is also the most expensive. Here are some less costly options:
Fiberglass: The best fiberglass poles have a UV-resistant finish and are constructed with the majority of fibers running vertically; fibers that run horizontally make the pole weaker and can cause failure. Fiberglass poles are available in various colors and are light, easy to install and maintenance-free. The rigging can be run inside the pole to eliminate the sound of slapping halyards. Most models do not make lowering easy, however.
Standard Aluminum: Although light, easy to install and available with internal rigging—no halyards to clang against metal—some painted aluminum poles chip, leaving uncoated spots that may stain. The most durable finish is clear-coated brushed metal, which often looks incongruous against a white clapboard house.
Telescoping Aluminum: The sight of retracting buttons and joints may not enhance the elegance of a pole's silhouette, but telescoping models are easily portable. Putting them up or taking them down requires only a few minutes.
Ask TOH users about Yard & Garden

Contribute to This Story Below

    Tools List

    • post hole digger
      Post hole digger
    • wheelbarrow
      Wheelbarrow
    • pointed shovel
      Shovel
    • four-foot level
      Level
    • sawhorse
      Sawhorses
    • drill
      Drill/driver fitted with 11/16-inch bit
    • socket wrench
      Socket wrench

    Shopping List

    Flagpole

    Gravel (optional) for drainage. Get one 1/3-cubic-foot bag.Concrete Get 8 sacks of dry mix to fill the hole.

    Silicone caulking rated for exterior use.