FIG. 1 - Space and dig the post holes every 6' to 8' apart.
|SPACING THE FENCE POSTS
- As a rule, you should set fence posts about 6' to 8'
apart. The spacing of the posts depends on the type of
fence you build, the terrain, the purpose of the fence
and other such factors.
- Set the corner or end post first. Then stretch a line
from each corner or end post to align all the posts in
- Drive a stake every 6' to 8' at the exact position where
the post hole is to be dug (Fig. 1).
- Take time to measure and position the posts accurately.
The appearance and the structural strength of your fence
depends a great deal on the positioning of the fence posts.
FIG. 3 - Use a level to make sure each post is in an exact,
FIG. 4 - Build a mound around each post to eliminate standing
FIG. 5 - Brace all corner posts in both directions to help
them carry weight.
FIG. 6 - The heads of posts should be rounded, capped or
slanted to shed water.
|SETTING THE FENCE POSTS
- Set all wood fence posts with about 1/3 of their total
length buried in the ground. This is especially important
on corner posts and any posts that will carry heavy weight
or withstand high wind pressure.
- Use a regular post hole digger to dig the post holes.
Dig the holes straight to the proper depth at each stake
- You can anchor the posts more firmly by making the holes
slightly larger at the bottom than at the top (Fig. 2).
Place a large stone or two shovels full of gravel in the
bottom of each hole. This provides drainage to avoid excessive
moisture at the base of each post.
- Use a wood preservative to treat the section of the
post that will be underground. Allow the post to stand
overnight in the preservative so it can become well-saturated.
- You can pack the posts with either dirt or concrete.
In either case, place two or three shovels full of gravel
in the bottom of each hole before the post is placed into
- Be sure the posts are in an exact, upright position
(Fig. 3). You can check the alignment of each post with
a regular level. You can also check the alignment of the
posts in one direction by sighting from one end of the
row of posts to the other.
- Brace each post with stakes after it is properly aligned
(Fig. 3). Keep the stakes in position until the concrete
(if used) has thoroughly set. Remove the nails holding
the braces and readjust the post until it is in accurate
- When the post is properly aligned, tamp it thoroughly
to pack the dirt (if used) around the base of the post.
Be sure you do not alter the alignment of the post during
the tamping process.
- When the post is firmly in position, build a mound around
it to help eliminate water standing at the post base (Fig.
4). Slope the concrete slightly away from the post and
round it off with a trowel. Tamp the concrete lightly
to eliminate any air bubbles left in the mixture that
can act as water pockets.
- Provide extra bracing at all corners (Fig. 5). A corner
post must carry the weight of fence stretched in two directions,
so it should be set in both directions.
- Allow the posts to stand several days and settle firmly
in position before adding the fence.
- The heads of posts should be rounded, capped or slanted
to help eliminate accumulating water, which can cause
rotting (Fig. 6). This is well-worth the effort since
it allows the posts to last.
FIG. 7 - There are three ways to attach top rails.
FIG. 9 - Measure from the top rail to align each bottom
rail on each post.
|ADDING RAILS TO FENCE POSTS
- Attach a top and bottom rail to the fence posts (Fig.
7). There are three basic ways to do this.
- The center illustration shows the top rail being nailed
to the top of the post. This is an ideal installation
for many types of fencing structures. The top rail can
always be joined to another rail in the center of a post
- If the rail is added on the body of the post rather
than at the top, attach it with a groove, a wood block
or a metal bracket.
- You can attach the bottom rail to the post by either
of the two outside illustrations.
- Fig. 8 illustrates several other ways to attach a rail
to a fence post. Study these illustrations carefully.
The type of joint you use to attach the fence supports
to the post depends primarily on the type of fence you
- The lap joint is one of the easiest to use. The grooved
joint does basically the same job, but the rail is grooved
into the post rather than being nailed to the post surface.
- The butt joint is a little more difficult to make but
is often better. The mortised joint is even neater than
the butt joint, but you must cut a mortise into the post
for this joint.
- The slotted joint is commonly used on decorative fences.
Treat all slotted joints with preservative to prevent
rotting in the grooved areas.
- Take time to measure from the top rail to be sure the
bottom rail on each is in perfect alignment (Fig. 9).
After you have measured one post, cut a measuring stick
to prevent having to make an actual measurement on each
post. The stick can be used to apply the same measurement
to each post.
FIG. 10 - Fences like these provide a barrier but offer
FIG. 11 - Barriers like these can enhance the appearance
of your yard.
FIG. 12 - These fences are primarily used to provide privacy.
FIG. 13 - These four easy-to-build styles of fence have
the same basic construction.
FIG. 14 - Picket fences can be styled in many ways.
FIG. 15 - Use a loose picket to ensure even spacing
FIG. 16 - A basket weave fence adapts easliy to a sloping
FIG. 17 - This board fence is easy to build
|SELECTING THE FENCE STYLE
- There are literally hundreds of variations in fence
styles and construction materials. There is pre-assembled
wood fencing sections as well as fencing materials made
from recycled milk jugs. The type of fence you use depends
primarily on the purpose.
- Fences like the type shown in Fig. 10 are used primarily
for barriers. They are easy to build and provide an adequate
barrier. However, they are usually not very decorative
and they provide very little, if any, privacy.
- Fences like those illustrated in Fig. 11 provide barriers
and are more attractive than an ordinary fence. With a
little shrubbery or plants, such fences can provide very
attractive barriers along property lines.
- Fences such as those illustrated in Fig. 12 are primarily
privacy screens. They can be built as tall as needed out
of many different materials. Their primary purpose is
- Consider your needs when selecting the style of your
fence. If you want a simple barrier, a wire fence or a
simple style fence such as illustrated in Fig. 10 will
- For a barrier that enhances the appearance, consider
styles similar to those illustrated in Fig. 11.
- For added privacy, consider the styles illustrated in
- Regardless of the type of fence you plan to build, be
sure you know exactly where your property line is located.
If you are uncertain about the location of the line, check
into it or work out an agreement on the fence location
with your neighbor.
- Also, check any local ordinances applying to fences
before beginning construction. Call the building department
of your local city hall or ask for the local government
office that regulates construction to be sure you abide
by city codes.
- Try to keep the bottom rail of any fence at least 2"
above the ground. This helps eliminate the problem of
decay and makes it easier to trim grass around the base
of the fence.
- Fig. 13 illustrates four basic styles of easy-to-build
fence. Each style has the same basic top, center and bottom
rail construction. However, the fences look entirely different
with the various rail treatments.
- Study the designs in Fig. 13 carefully. Decide which
of these styles you prefer, or use a little imagination
and create your own fencing design to apply to the basic
rail fencing structure.
- Picket fences are very popular and easy to build. With
a little ingenuity you can create attractive picket designs.
Study the designs in Fig. 14. Use the designs shown in
Fig. 14 or your own designs to create a distinctive picket
- Make sure that all the pickets are spaced by inserting
a loose picket between the picket previously nailed into
position and the picket to be nailed. Use this easy method
throughout the entire fencing construction.
- A basket weave fence is often used on a sloping terrain
(Fig. 16). This style of fence allows you to raise or
lower each post.
- Use a good-quality board to build a basket weave fence.
Boards full of knots may break easily when placed under
the stress of basket weaving.
- A simple board fence is easy to build and can be quite
attractive (Fig. 17). You can place the boards on one
side or alternate them from side to side.
- The board fence provides both a barrier and privacy.
It can be built as tall as needed and then stained, painted
or left natural.
- You can design a siding fence to match the siding on
your home of this style. In fact, you can use the same
siding that was used on the home to build the fence.
- The siding fence can be covered on one side or both.
Then, you can paint it to match or harmonize with the
paint on your home.
- These are only a few of the many styles of fencing available.
Fences are easy to build, and the materials are readily