How to Cut out Cedar Split Rail Fencing

red barn and pasture with fence
What You'll Need
Work gloves

Clear away cedar trees from your land and you easily have materials to make your own cedar split rail fence. Split rail fences are made by stacking thin, long rows of cedar rails on top of each other. Because these fences can be built without using nails or other connective metal pieces, they were the favorite type of fences used during America’s long gone frontier era. The wood that was used for making split rail fences were recyclable in that, if they were needed for other purposes, these fences were easily taken apart and the wood moved.

The popularity of cedar split rail fences come from the fact that they can be made with any long cedar trees found growing on your land. Instead of paying a hefty price to have a ready-made fence to encircle your property, you can clear your land while putting up a fence around it at the same time.

Step 1 - Assess the Land

scenic view of fenced meadow and mountains

If you have a huge land that needs fencing, it is good to see if the amount of trees you are clearing away can match the area you are fencing in. Walk around the property and take note of any peculiarities regarding your land that might affect your fencing needs. Record big boulders that might need moving, and evaluate steep hills that make installations difficult. Walk around the grove of cedar trees you are clearing away.

Approximate the number of trees that would be needed for the size of fence you are planning to build. You might also need to consult your local county office in order to see if permission is needed in order to make changes to your property. Also, make sure that your fence is built within your property line and have it mapped out if necessary.

Step 2 - Set a Date

This is a long project that can bring many friends together for many hardworking hours. Ask friends to come by on a set date and plan on how you can work together in building this fence. The more, the merrier. Of course, if you were planning on going at it alone, skip this step.

Step 3 - Cut Trees

criss cross rustic fencing with mountains in the background

Cut down your trees using an ax or chainsaw. Carry each tree to a clearing for easy measurement and handling. This step is basic, but takes the longest time to accomplish.

Step 4 - Trim and Measure Trees

There is no prescribed measurement that is strictly followed, but they are usually cut into 10 to 12 feet in length. Halve and quarter your logs until they have the thickness you are looking for. Place them in another area of your clearing.

Step 5 - Install the Fence

Take a truck and piles of your split rails into designated areas of your land for easy reach. Lay one layer of split rail along the perimeter of your fence, making sure to layer the edges on top of each other. Go around, adding another layer each time around and making sure to layer the edges over top of each other and secure the logs from falling through. Gravity and weight supports the logs and keeps them in place.