'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

07 June 2012


Excuses are gone. It's time to get back to work on the house. I decided to go ahead and put up the fence between our house and Sarge's. It runs along the north side of the house, beside Sarge's driveway, from the back of the property to the front corner of the garage. I put up a temporary fence last year to keep the dogs in the yard. It consisted of some chain link and black wrought iron I already had. The chain link started to sag and look terrible so it's time to replace it permanently.

Materials consist of eleven 8' pressure treated 4x4s, eleven 50 pound bags of post concrete, thirty 8' pressure treated 2x4s with screws and galvanized steel hangers. I'll buy the actual fence boards in the next day or two, just before I put them up.

Here's how the area and old fence looked.

Looking back from the front of the garage.

You can see the chain link and the wrought iron sections. I used the WI to make a temporary dog fence until the new fence is up.

Really, that's just embarrassing.

I ran a string along the property line and then drove in a stake every 8 feet. Those are where I'll later dig holes for the 4x4 posts. I then laid out the posts with one bag of post concrete per hole. It didn't actually take all 11, I used 9 1/2 bags for 11 holes but for 2' deep 6" holes for 4x4 posts one 50 pound bag per is a good rule of thumb. It actually depends on depth uniformity and how much you have to hog out the hole for fit.

I was going to dig the post holes by hand. Then I remembered that I'm actually lazy. And I'm a guy so you know, power tools. Plus I got to draft some cute help.

Holes drilled and posts set in place.

Now it's time to make things more or less permanent. This may not be the way others do it. It might not even be the best way to do it but it's the way that works best for me.

I started out by setting the two end posts and leaning the others back.

I then ran a string from the first post to the last. I'll use this string to set the rest.

I then set the center post of the run. I now have two ends and the center done. This will break up the run into two halves and allow me to more easily get the posts set correctly.

After the center post was set I broke it again and set a center post in the two half runs. The rest went from there, working from back to front.

A word on setting posts. This must be done correctly to get a straight and plumb fence. Time spent here will pay off when putting up the fence boards. The better the posts are set the less finagling and fudging you'll have to do later. The posts are the foundation. Get this right and the rest is a lot simpler.

I start off by checking plumb while the post is set at the string line. If the post is plumb but not touching the line the entire post has to be moved toward the line. This was necessary for me because the fence is located on the property line. I had to drill the holes on my side of the line so some fudging became necessary. You can see here that the post is plumb but about an inch away from the string.

Time to hog out the holes. Done the old fashioned way.

Now the post is straight and plumb and as close to the string as I prefer. I don't rest the post on the string. If the posts push against the string even just a bit it'll tend to create a cascading error that will make the fence either wavy or bowed. Instead I leave a gap of between 1/16 and 1/32 of an inch between the post and the string. That will tend to cancel out any errors and make the fence much straighter.This is also the time to ensure the post is square to the line. It's not critical, a little error is acceptable, but the better the posts are set the easier the fence boards are to put up and the better the fence will look. Am I harping? Well, maybe a little. There, perfect. The post is plumb, square and right at the correct distance from the string. Let's set that sucker.

A word on post concrete. The big box home remodel store was out of actual post cement so I went with a quick dry concrete. I set the posts dry and add in water in stages as I fill the hole. Get the post aligned correctly, add in a little concrete. Check the post. Correct and add in some water. Check the post again, Correct and add in some more concrete and water. I do this until the hole is filled with concrete and water and the post is set correctly. It's a little time consuming but it allows me to set the posts alone and check and correct all the way to the top. Others may click their tongues and chastise me for this practice but I've done it many times and had good luck with it. The concrete draws in the water and will cure in the hole as well as if poured wet. Hey, it works for me. Your mileage may vary. True post cement is designed to do this very thing and the only real difference between post cement and quick dry concrete is gravel, the name and cost.

Eleven posts later and it's done. The posts are set, straight, plumb and square. Ready for stringers and boards.

This work actually took me two days because I'm retired and lazy and no one was paying me to finish on a deadline. One day to prep the site and auger the holes. One day to set all the posts. Tomorrow I'll be putting in the stringers and getting ready for boards. This weekend I'll put up the fence boards. All 160 plus of them. There will also be two gates, one at the back corner and another at the front of the garage.

More tomorrow God willing and the creek don't rise.



Sarge said...

I sure miss being there to help. I know it's in the mid 90's to 115. Geezzz I always miss all the fun. That third post looks to me to be about 1/4 inch out to the south. Well I suppose you'll be able to fudge it over without me shucks.

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