Adventures in Fence Building

The Horizontal Fence

How nice it would be to have a contractor who you paid to build things for you. Its nice to dream…

But not in my house. Growing up we always DIYed it. I have always been told about my parents first apartment. Their bedroom consisted of a radial arm saw and power tools. And they slept in the livingroom. I think that is right. My dad pretty much furnished my parent’s first home with pieces he build.

It is in my blood. So, I guess it is no wonder that half of the furniture that B and I own was made by me… in my dad’s garage… sometimes with some minor help from my father. Good times. Nice stress relief.

With all of the family experience building furniture, workbenches, putting in wood floors, tile… I wasn’t the least bit worried or daunted at the prospect of designed fence building. Not just a regular old fence but a horizontal slat fence with special design details. It is gorgeous! But so much extra work.

Ooohhhhh, it is so pretty.
Is it sad that I get excited about beautiful woodworking?

We started out by pulling down the old fence.

We left the old posts, because face it, it is A LOT of work to pull out posts. A lot of back breaking work! Besides we are just trying out the design to see if it is something my parents want around the whole backyard.

The hardest part is next.

In this ever eco-conscious world we are living in, it just seemed right to reuse the old fence pickets as much a possible.

But we want a pretty fence.

Bring in the planer. The before and after of this is amazing.




After about an hour of sweaty work, we had the most gorgeous cedar boards and large pile of wood shavings.

I must say, if they decide to do the whole backyard this way, I will be more than happy to buy an electric plane. The work was hard but infinitely satisfying when you see the results.

First step: Install the rot board. Make it level and toenail in place.

Step 2: Trim- To hold the fence pickets in place, rip a few of the newly refinished fence pickets into strips. You’ll need four post length strips for each panel(space between each set of posts). We were working with two panels(3 posts) so we needed eight strips.

Step 3: Router both edges of the horizontal boards so they will fit together and overlap. This overs greater privacy, especially once the fence boards start to shrink in a couple of years.

Step 4: Attach the trim strips flush with the “front” side of the fence posts. I didn’t get a good picture of the strips by themselves, but you can see them in front of the first picket.

Step 5: Attach the pickets. We had to purchase new pickets horizontally because there were not enough of the old pickets that were in good enough shape to refinish. Tack the horizontal pickets onto the trim piece from behind. Continue up the fence until you reach the top.

Step 6: Unless your world is perfect, you will have to trim the final horizontal pickets to be flush with the top of the posts. We did this with a circular saw. Hold your board in place on the fence and mark where the posts end on each side of the board. Take a straight edge and draw your line on the board from mark to mark. Cut along your line and, WHAMO, your picket is trimmed.

Step 7: Sandwich your pickets with another piece of trim in the “back” of the fence. nail the trim onto the post.

Step 8: Using the recycled old fence pickets, wrap the posts to make things look pretty. Just nail in place a picket trimmed to the width of the post plus the trim pieces to hid the difference in the colors. This gives your posts a nice finished look.

Final Step: Cap the posts. By this time I think we were all a little tired and couldn’t decide on a top. Even the next day, we had a hard time coming up with an idea. So we settled on the stepped cap shown above. Just nail each layer in place, one on top of the other.


2 responses to “Adventures in Fence Building

  1. Fence looks great….you guys did a wonderful job…….when can you do our yard…..we do need to keep out the deer.

  2. Pingback: Adventures in Fence Building – Part 2 « Hopefully Homemade

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