Building a Wood Fence


Old 11-20-04, 05:19 PM
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Building a Wood Fence

I am planning on putting up a 6' wood privacy fence. I am going to "stick" build on site and I need some information.

I am planning on using 4" x 4" x 8' posts on 8' centers, 2" x 4" x 8' for the rails, and 3/4" x 6" x 6' pickets (actual width 5.5").

For setting the posts I plan on digging a 3' hole and back filling with 6" of gravel. This will leave 5-1/2' of post above ground. I will also mound the concrete around the post a little above ground level so water will run off .

What can I wrap the bottom of the post that is in the concrete with to slow down rotting?

For attaching the rails I have 2 options. Cutting rails to fit between the posts and then toe nailing (actually heavy duty screws) into the side of the posts. Or attaching the rails to the outside of the posts, butting them end to end. Which of these methods is stronger, or better?

Are 2 rails sufficent? At what heights do I place the rails on the 4" x 4" posts?

Finally, I need adivce on attaching the pickets to the rails. I am planning on using eith 1-3/4" or 2" wood screws (whichever I can find easier) and using 4 screws for each picket, 2 for connecting to each rail. Is this sufficient?

Have I missed anything? I will of course be using string to align the posts and ensure everything is level / vertical.

Any comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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Old 11-20-04, 07:58 PM
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So just what information is it that you need??? Sounds to me like your plan will work just fine. (Of course, I would use either 1-7/8's or 2-3/8's metal posts ((chain link stuff)) and Simpson PGT's, rather than the wood posts, but that's just me.) Once the posts are set, I would cut the tops off level and use a 16' top rail, rather than have a butt joint at each post. That's one option. Another would be to use a 16' top rail AND a 16' bottom rail, face nailing (screwing!) each to the posts, and staggering the joints, so that the top rail joints occur at posts 1, 3, 5, 7, etc., and the bottom joints are at posts 2, 4, 6, 8, ...
Old 11-21-04, 10:52 AM
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Thanks for the encouragement.

Main questions I have are:

What can I wrap the bottom of the post that is in the concrete with to slow down rotting? A friend at work was recommending roofing tar paper.

At what heights do I place the rails on the 4" x 4" posts? If I had to guess, I would say 1 froot from the top and bottom of the pickets, but just looking for a recommendation.

Old 11-21-04, 04:28 PM
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I've replaced wood fence posts that were wrapped with tar paper, and posts that weren't wrapped. Didn't really seem to matter -- the posts last about 10 to 15 years either way.

Bottom rail up about a foot above grade, top rail down 12" to 15" -- that's pretty much standard. That leaves about 4' between the rails, and the fence boards, deing wood, are going to warp slightly. A third (center rail) cures the warp.

You've got the plan -- the only thing left now is the WORK!!
Old 11-22-04, 05:01 AM
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Thanks for the info.

As to the work, you got that right.

I might have a cookout and trade food for work with some church friends.
Old 01-20-05, 11:18 AM
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Hi there.

I've torn down quite a few fences and it seems that when the posts have rotten it is actually just above the concrete. If you said that you were going to have the concrete above grade then you are already one step ahead.

There are products that are available that give more protection to the posts. There is an end cut preservative which has copper naphthenate in it which is good. But for the best protection I would go with creosote. Its that tar stuff that they used to use on railway sleepers.

They are both nasty stuff so take care using them. Make sure you do not have a vegetable garden near any treated wood.

Hope this helps.

Old 06-20-05, 10:44 AM
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Toenail or butt?

Found this thread and wondered what the experts thought about another one of the original poster's question: Rails toe-nailed between posts or butted together on the post?

Old 06-22-05, 03:31 AM
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Butted (below the top) is stronger because the fastener goes through at a better angle and further from the end too. The end grain will get no less wet but it will breathe better and harbour no woodbugs if a small gap is provided between "butted" rails. This arrangement doesn't look as tidy though, front or back, IMO.

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