Building a Fence

My goal in life right now is to complete one useful task every 4-5 months. I’m right on track with this next project.

I built a fence in my mom’s back yard. The whole thing is only about 15′ long or something. My mom had a waist-high chain link fence and gate, but she didn’t love it. She wanted more privacy, so she asked me to build her a fence. Digging out the old fence posts was easy.

A neighbor lent me a gas-powered auger to dig the holes. I used  it on one of the posts, but the motor kept cutting out on the second one. Luckily the ground is so soft and sandy around here that I had the hole dug in about 5 minutes anyway. I spent more time messing around with the motor than it took to just dig it by hand.

During - fence posts set in concrete.
During – fence posts set in concrete.

I used an 8″ sonotube to set the 4×4 posts. Probably a bit undersized, but i think it will be fine. Here’s the finished product.

After - Fence and gate.
After – Fence and gate.

The thing that surprised me the most is how wet the wood was, and how much it shrank subsequently. I used precut treated fence pickets from the big-box store and I could literally see the moisture oozing out of the wood with each screw I sank into it. Typically it’s a good idea to leave a bit of a gap between each picket, but I didn’t in this case since privacy was the primary reason for the fence and I wanted to limit visibility between the pickets as much as possible. Just a couple weeks after the fence was in place the pickets had shrunk enough that there was now probably a .25″ gap between the pickets. Word to the wise, if you’re using pressure treated lumber like this, plan on it shrinking quite a bit.

There was also a weird little corner of her yard between her garage and her neighbors garage where I built a goofy little fence. In this case, I left the 4′ metal poles from the chain link fence in place and bolted the new wooden fence right onto it. I did this thinking that it would save time by not having to remove those posts or plant new ones, but in the end it was a wash. I spent way too much time dicking around with trying to bolt the new fence onto the old posts that I wish I had just removed it and started fresh.

After - little corner fence.
After – little corner fence.

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