View Full Version : Speaking of Fencing...How do you???

Summit Springs Farm
Dec. 26, 2008, 04:59 PM
Who can give me some details on how to put up a 3 or 4 board fence?

I know I must sound completely stupid, which I can be at times. But How do you figure out how to put up 3 or 4 board fences???

What do we buy, ie length of boards, how much cement what brand or kind?

What size nails?

And how do you do that string thing???

Thank you in advance fellow COTHers!!!

Evalee Hunter
Dec. 26, 2008, 05:18 PM
Let me start by saying we have HIRED a fence co. to put up all our fencing. So any comments I make are based on observation, not experience! We have about 3,500 linear feet of "no climb" with an oak top board & about 4,500 - 5,000 linear feet of 3 board (oak board, also). We do love traditional board fence (the oldest fencing has been up about 4 years now) & will be putting up thousands more feet as we can afford it.

Our fencing contractor pounded the posts in - no cement, no holes, just pounded posts. The boards are 16 ft. long. They are nailed so they alternate which post they meet at - if the top & bottom boards meet at a post, the middle board crosses the post at the center & meets other board at the prior & next post. Then, at a post where the middle boards meet the top & bottom boards cross that post - kind of like doing bricks so the seams do not line up or stacking hay. The nails were probably 3 times as long as the thickness of the boards & looked almost like screws with very pronounced ridges. The nails were shot in with a big nail gun. They actually put up all the posts first. Of course, the boards don't meet the posts perfectly so they just lop off an inch or two to make them perfect. The tops of the posts are also lopped off at an angle to match the height of the top board.

I don't know about the "string thing". Our contractor puts in all the posts & then puts up the boards & uses a short board to space the boards from each other so the spacing is consistent.

They use a level on every single post to get it in really exactly vertical so I think that is an important place to start. I know in this area you can rent post pounders.

If you are putting in very much fence, get some estimates. You may find you can hire it done almost as cheap as doing it yourself.

Dec. 26, 2008, 05:31 PM
You really don't want to concrete wooden post, just helps them rot faster, unless you wrap them with roofing felt or such.
Post should be treated for in ground use and easily last many years.

Hiring it done, if you don't know what you are doing, is always the best to end up with the best fence, that won't keep needing repairs all along.

For all thinging of board fences, consider adding a hot wire on the top.
It teaches horses to respect fences and keeps those horse beavers from chewing that top board up in those neat wave patterns.

Dec. 26, 2008, 05:41 PM
Depends on what string thing... first you do your corner posts, then you nail a carpenter's string to (say) the outside of the first post, and run it to the second post and pull it tight on a nail on the outside of that post... then make sure all your posts in between touch the string on THEIR outside, plus are level .... then, if you like the look, you kind of establish "break points" at low/high spots, set posts at those points matching your corner posts in height, and run a string to to top of each post, then make the intermediate posts touch the string at their tops (along with touching the outside string and being level)--or cut them to that height, which is usually easier but heaven forbid we do it the easy way..... (sorry, editorializing!) This way you get nice straight runs of fence instead of following the EXACT meander of the terrain, which, if you have small but frequent variations of terrain, looks horrifically messy to some types of people. Ask me how I know. :-)

Posts: Figure one post every eight feet, plus one extra for each corner, add 2' to the desired height for your length.
Rails: Divide length of fence by length of rails (say, 1600' divided by 16' rails = 100 rails) and then multiply by the number of rails you intend to run vertically (for a four rail fence, that is 400 rails).
Concrete, if desired: Multiply number of posts by 2. Sakrete is the most commonly used around here, but just go to Home Depot and ask for bags of just-add-water concrete mix.
Nails: 16 or 20 penny nails, ring shank. If you can get a nailgun, that is SOOOO much easier and you won't loosen your posts banging with a hammer.


Dec. 26, 2008, 10:15 PM
We bought a post driver for the tractor when we started putting in fence. One day out there drilling holes and tamping or concreting in posts will have to realizing the cost-benefit-time ratio definitely pans out in favor of the post driver.

Figure out where you want to have the fenceline. We did one straight side, then a corner, then a side, then corner, and so on. All posts in and then starting on the boards. That said, I have rounded corners so maybe it's diff with square ones. I believe we used approx a 36' radius for the corners. Any smaller and it is hard to bend the boards. It's hard enough at that.

My boards are on the INSIDE of the posts, for horse safety. SO, you pull a string very taut where you want the fenceline and then place the posts on the outside on the string, so they don't touch it, but almost skim it. Basically, the string goes on the side of the post that you want the boards on, b/c that is the side that needs to line up.

The posts are 8' apart on center. The corner posts are 7'6" and are bigger posts b/c of the strain of the bent boards pushing out. 16' boards. We have 4 board, so divide the number of feet of fenceline by 8' for number of posts, then double it for number of boards. None of mine are concreted in unless we hit a rock and couldn't pound them in far enough.

For putting up the boards we made a stick with a 2x4 that is 5' tall and marked the top of the stick with a sharpie against the post. I then calculated how far apart the boards would need to be to give a proper look and function. I think it worked out to be about 8" but not sure. Cut a piece of wood as your "spacer" in this length. Put up the top row of boards for a short section, then use your spacer to mark where the top of the next board should start, place the next row, repeat. Also, be sure to alternate which post the boards start on, mine are every other. So top board starts on post 1, 2nd board starts on post 2, 3rd board starts on post 1, 4th board starts on post 2.

After placing all the boards, go back and cut off the tops of the posts at an angle. This makes it look neater and also serves to allow water to run off the top easier so the posts last longer. Posts are treated. I recommend Oak for the boards. We used Poplar the first time and the horses LOVE to eat it!!

Not sure if I am explaining this properly, but ours came out beautifully and very professional looking. DEFINITELY be sure to carefully check the level in all directions on each and every post. V important. Time consuming but definitely saves money to do it yourself. The estimates I got a few years ago were $5/foot of 4 board fence installed.

Good luck!! I have a few pics if they'd help.

Dec. 27, 2008, 11:05 AM
first, rob a bank...then make sure you dont waste your money on one inch lumber, and then find a source of 2" thick green oak by preference for boards, then let them season and shrink, meanwhile set your posts (pressure treated) then make sure you attach board on INSIDE of posts)...then when all is done be prepared to be painting or sealing or otherwise maintaining fence religiously while preventing horses from leaning on, eating, or otherwise destroying fence. Or, alternatively, lie down until urge for board fences goes away.

Dec. 27, 2008, 11:24 AM
The estimates I got a few years ago were $5/foot of 4 board fence installed.
Double the $5/foot then subtract a dollar or two a foot if you're putting in a few thousand feet of it, then add $1 a foot to paint it. I have driven poles that were put in 20+ years ago and well maintained, they are still in great shape so when I bought the place and wanted to cross fence a couple months ago I hunted down the same fence guys to put in more.

I could see putting in a couple hundred feet of it myself, but I'd never do a big job myself--if for no other reason than fencing is one of those things that is cheaper if you "only do it once." The most expensive jobs on a farm aren't the one you do once it's the ones you have to do again because the quality wasn't great the first time around.

Personally, I prefer the boards nailed to the the outside of the post. Since I have perimeter fencing if I have a horse get in a tangle I rather the boards come loose sooner rather than later--a little like tying and leather halters that break.

Dec. 27, 2008, 01:35 PM
We put in our fence, but I did have the fence holes dug. It was faster and cheaper than DIY, because the fence guy is close by, he had the right tool for the job, and he had the experience to do it quickly.

Dec. 27, 2008, 03:15 PM
What would be the reason for some boards warping after being put up? I visited a property that had a good many of the boardswarping even though the fencing was only about two years old.

Dec. 27, 2008, 03:48 PM
What would be the reason for some boards warping after being put up? I visited a property that had a good many of the boardswarping even though the fencing was only about two years old.

Most lumber is cut when it is still fairly green instead of after being kiln dried. Higher grades of lumber are less likely to warp.

Evalee Hunter
Dec. 27, 2008, 04:21 PM
What would be the reason for some boards warping after being put up? I visited a property that had a good many of the boardswarping even though the fencing was only about two years old.

Some of our fence boards are warped (not too many) & I actually like the look - it is "real" or "natural", whatever you want to say. If you don't want any warping, go with "plastic" (vinyl, whatever).

. . . . Personally, I prefer the boards nailed to the the outside of the post. Since I have perimeter fencing if I have a horse get in a tangle I rather the boards come loose sooner rather than later--a little like tying and leather halters that break.

I'm with those that recommended boards on the inside of posts, for this reason: if just one end of the board comes off & the horse tries to run/squeeze between the post & the board with nails sticking out, the result is ugly. Also, it is harder for the horse to take the boards off if they are pushing against a board which is, in turn, pushing AGAINST a post. I just don't subscribe to the "breakaway" fence theory. Furthermore, I don't want horses getting out & running around loose with the possibilities of being hit by cars or other dangers.

As to price, we paid under $6 a running foot last summer for 3 board oak, including both materials & labor. Gate installation was $25 a gate since I supply the gates & slam latches.

Dec. 27, 2008, 09:04 PM
Just my 2 cents. Forget digging. Find a driver. Posts may not be quite so perfectly straight but they are tight and fast.

I bought my pounder back in the late 70's after it was used to build Interstate highway fence through Ga. It had seen a lot of posts and yet I've recently mounted it to my Bobcat and it works better than ever. Did a bit of fence last week with inexperienced help positioning the Bobcat and still averaged close to a post a minute.

I don't let anybaody else actually operate the pounder tho because #1 if you put ANY body part like a thumb on top of the post it's gone and #2 if you stand behind the post and the pounder is not correctly set the post can kick out and remove your front teeth. I've never had a problem but dumb helpers have!

Dec. 28, 2008, 10:02 AM
I just finished a three board fence around my front yard, for dogs, not horses (lined the inside with no-climb).

I put my corner posts in by hand with a post-hole digger, then ran my string as described by buschkn, above, and drove a short stake every eight feet along the line. Then I got my neighbor to come over with his tractor and auger and dig my holes. I had to realign some of them but it was easier than doing them all from scratch.

I set 4x4 treated posts in about 30 lbs of Quikcrete each. After giving them a couple of days to settle, I attached eight foot treated 2x4's to the inside of the posts. Don't leave the posts too long before attaching the boards - they can start to lean, if they're in wet ground, or warp.

I used combo-drive screws to attach my boards instead of nails, for two reasons: 1) it's easier to do, if you have a power drill; and 2) it's easier to remove the board if you need to - just reverse the drill and unscrew it.

Dec. 28, 2008, 11:01 AM
We have a few thousand feet of fence here thus far, and did the DIY. It looks better than most fence places b/c we were concerned about doing it perfectly, not just getting it in and getting paid. I def recommend the post driver. Digging the holes and setting posts is a huge PITA unless it's just a few. I mark with inverted paint cans along the string 8' on center, and only do one at a time. Like pound the post, measure, make mark, pound post, etc. It it hard to get them exactly where you want so if you mark several off at a time, you are liable to be off a fair amount by the end.

And I think using screws is not a bad idea, esp in the corners. That said, a nail gun saves a LOT of time and was well worth the $300 or so for a good one. Opportunity costs, like the post driver. Think of what your time is worth, and figure out ways to make it easier and more efficient for you to do.


Dec. 28, 2008, 02:54 PM
i have proper post and rails the posts are 7ft and 3ft in the ground and the 3mtrs apart with 4x2 at 12 ft lenghts then bare wire on top and rabbit netting along the bottom sunken into the ground cost an arm and a leg but got fed up with patch up old post and bare wire fencing
as my lands rented - so have replaced the whole lot, and w ill start doing the in btween fencing getting to old to muck about worrying if the horse wil get out also the fence has stock wire attached its 4 rails across and off huge posts of 8x4 x 7ft long