After some delays I've finally got the stringers in. The stupid part? I'll get to that momentarily.
But first an Angus picture. Just to get you in a good mood.
Ok. Stringers. There's two ways to do this. Level or parallel. Level is self explanatory. Use a spirit level on each stringer. The problem comes in when the ground isn't level. My lot slopes gently up from back to front. It's not a lot but it is there. If I simply make each stringer level the stringers will be off in height by about 3 inches when comparing the first post to the last and will be obvious when the fence boards are installed. For me, in this instance, parallel is the better choice. Instead of making the stringers each level I measured up from the ground on the first and last post to the point where I wanted the top stringer to go and then ran another line. It looks like this.
From there I used the old Mark 1 Eyeball and lined up the string starting at the middle again and working out so the line was straight and true for it's length. I stapled the line to each post to make sure it didn't sag and throw me off.
Here's a look at what I'm talking about. The string level is a bit hard to see but if you look closely you'll see the bubble is just a bit off, indicating the line isn't perfectly level. That's Ok, in fact it's exactly what I wanted. It'll all work out as you'll see in a minute.
This is a fence stringer hanger. It's screwed into the post. The stringer ends fit into the hanger and get screwed to it in turn. I used the line I ran earlier to set each of the top hangers.
Once all the hangers were on I set each of the top stringers. I then checked visually to ensure they were parallel to the ground. The eye is naturally drawn to things that are out of square which is why I chose to hang them the way I did. They won't be visible from the fence side but they will be from the house side and if they're off, even by the three inches I mentioned, it'll completely ruin the line of the fence and look terrible.
You can see here that the stringer is parallel to the ground and looks correct. Of course there is one problem here. Can you spot it because I sure didn't. Until it was too late. Far too late.
See, I set the top stringers at 5 1/2 feet from the ground. When you're 6 feet tall and walking toward the fence with your head down (Lu said with it up my fourth point of contact) the stringer is just about nose height. How do I know? This is how I know.
So there I was, minding my own business when suddenly, and completely without warning, someone hit me across the face with a pressure treated 2x4. Anyone who says I stupidly walked into the fence is totally lying. I swear. The impact wrenched my head back and sprained my neck. I didn't see stars but I did see black for a few seconds there. I thought for a few minutes I had actually broken my nose. The blood ran out like someone had installed a sinus spigot and turned it on to full.
This is the next day, after it'd had time to scab over a bit. Looks painful huh? Yep, mighty painful. Abject lessons often are. Somebody needs to find whoever's responsible for this and lock him away in a rubber room. What a maroon.
So I gave myself the rest of the day as well as Sunday off. Without pay of course. I started up again today.
After getting the rest of the top stringers installed (and the blood cleaned off one in particular) I used them to set the next two rows. I measured down from the top stringer 2 feet and 4 feet and marked the post. I used those marks to set the hangers for those rows of stringers.
From there it was a simple matter of putting in the rest of the stringers. I put each stringer in crown up (with one obvious exception, darn it) so as they settle they'll more firmly press their butt ends into the post and end up straight without me having to fudge them as I install the fence boards.
Finally done! All the stringers are set and the skeleton is ready for boards. Each is parallel with the others and the look is visually pleasing.
Is it straight? Not too bad if I do say so myself. There's that one board I put in upside down. I'm trying to decide which fix requires the least effort on my part. Re-doing it or fudging. Since it's covered by the garage I may go total lazy sleazoid and just pretend I never saw it. What?
Lu and I went down and picked up the boards for the actual fencing. One hundred eighty 5 1/2' x 5/8" x 6' boards. Tomorrow I'll top the posts to a uniform height and start installing the boards.
I figure we'll come in at right about $800 for the 80 foot run which isn't too bad. Hey, I figure I'm buying myself some new toys by doing it myself and I hate to pay someone else to do things I can do.
Of course there is that nose to consider. There's still plenty of opportunity left for buffoonery.