Saturday, January 28, 2012

How to build a cedar fence or any wood fence (part 3)

In this post we will talk about how to layout and set the posts. 

If you are replacing an existing fence in one way it might be easier to figure out the location of the posts, but you have to deal with an old concrete that is very hard to dig out. In this case I usually dig holes for the new posts right next to the old concrete shifting every post to the right or left of the existing post. 

If you are starting from scratch and you got the property line all marked all you need to do is figure out your corner posts and tie a string line from one corner to another to make sure all your holes line up and then mark the location of all the posts according to the post spacing that you desire (read part 1 about spacing of the posts). For marking I usually use spray paint, yellow and red works really good you can see this colors on grass and dirt really well.

You want your hole to be about a 1' wide and a 1' to 18" deep. The  depth depends on the hardness of the ground, the softer it is the dipper the holes have to be. When digging try and keep the bottom of the hole strait and same size as the top. I even try to make the bottom wider than the top, that way the concrete gets locked in and the post is stronger. 
When all the holes are done, first I set and brace the corner posts, then tie a string line to each corner post and line the posts in between to the string line. It is very hard to dig every hole perfect, so it pays off to have the bottoms of the holes flat. You can move your post to be in line with the string line and level. 
Thing to consider it is a lot less frustrating to have a helper when setting and bracing the posts.

Now time to pore some concrete. When poring concrete I recommend using shovel to put concrete in the hole, because if you pore strait from will barrel it is very easy to nock the post off a little bit. If you use the shovel it takes a little bit longer, but you will have yourself a strait fence.
Now that the concrete is all pored leave it alone until next day...

Remember always be careful when working on construction projects especially when using power tools...
Good luck

You can always find me here:

Also visit my youtube channel

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to build a cedar fence or any wood fence (part 2)

In this post I will talk a little bit about demolition and disposal of the existing fence, but before I start there is a few little things I missed in the part 1 that I want to go over.

When you got your materials list done it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to check a few lumber stores to find a best bargain because even a 10 cents per board will add up to a pretty big chunk of money and stores always have specials and sales to watch for. So take your time and shop around.
Another thing is if you are building a lot of fence it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to ask if there is an option to have materials delivered to your house. Some places might even offer it for free if you are not to far from the store or there might be a small fee for that, but it might be worth paying if you need a lot of materials and don't have proper vehicle to deliver it your self.


Ok you might ask why even waist time on talking about demolition in the first place, take a sledge hammer and go crazy on it like they do it in home improvement tv shows. It looks good on tv thats all.
Before I even start the demolition I usually inspect the fence, aseptically the really bad parts and try to figure out why it got so bad in the first place.

In the photos above you can see that the fence is in a very bad shape and needs to be replaced, in fact it was so bad that a few days before I started the job two of the middle sections got nocked down by the wind, and when I was taking it apart most of the post you could snap off with one hand.

In the first picture you can see that yard is slopped towards the fence, and in the second and third picture you can really see that the bottom framing is laying on the ground and the grass is much taller than the framing. In the third picture the ground is actually higher than the board.

So with the yard sloping towards the fence and the framing laying on the ground and grass is taller than the framing we can say for sure that this was one of the problems that made this fence to go bad.

It is very important to pay close attention to those details because when building a new fence we can use that information to make sure the new fence will not have that problem. We will get back to this when we talk about building the fence in future posts.

Ok now about demolition. First thing never forget to wear eye protection and gloves!
I usually make two trips to dispose of an old fence. First I take each section out and remove the fence boards, by doing that I am able to stack every cedar board nice and compact in my truck and take all of them in one trip. If you go sledge hammer on it, you will end up with a lot of small pieces that are very hard to pick up from grass and your load is all messy and chances are nothing will fit in the truck unless you have a 40 yard dumpster. The reason I take seder and clean wood first is because I recycle it and pay cents on the dollar compare to what it cost at land fill where you dump garbage, and in some areas you can even recycle it for free you should check in your area maybe you be lucky. The reason only cedar and clean wood is because you cannot recycle pressure treated lumber, it has to do with the chemicals they use. On the second trip I take posts and other pressure treated lumber to the land fill.
Another thing you should be really careful with is the nails, last thing you want to do is step on the rusty nail and get an infection. Also after you are done try and pick up all of the nails you see and do that after you are done building the fence. To make that job faster you can get a magnet sweeper at your local hardware store and go through the area you worked to make sure there are no nails in the grass. Lawn mowers and nails in the grass never a good combination.

Ok this should about cover the demolition, in the next post we will talk about laying out and setting posts.

Remember always be careful when working on construction projects especially when using power tools...
Good luck

You can always find me here:

Also visit my youtube channel

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How to build a cedar fence or any wood fence (part 1)

First and the most important thing is the planning of your project. If you get all your planning and desining done the whole project will go much easier and less frustrating.


You will have two different approaches. 1. You replacing existing fence that is in the bad condition or
2. You are starting from scratch.

If you replacing an existing fence you have to do more work like doing the demolition and disposing of the debris, but you will save yourself a lot of time in trying to figure out the property line if you want to build a fence to separate from your neighbors and also it is much easier to figure out materials needed. In most cases you do not need a permit to replace a fence but you should always check with your local building department just to make sure. If you starting from scratch you definitely need to do so, chances are you will need a permit but that depends on the town you live in. Also I would recommend to have a locator come out to mark where all the underground utilities are, especially if you will use a powered posthole digger they usually are free and way worth the trouble, because if you hit a telephone line that provides phone service to half of your neighborhood you might get in some trouble.(trust me I know some guys who did that and the bill from the phone company was like $2000 to get that fixed)

Ok we got all of our questions answered with the building department and the ground utilities are all located and the property line is marked (you can find that information at your local building department usually there is a small fee for a worker to come out to your property and mark the property line) now what? Now we have to figure out the materials list. In case you already have the fence that you are replacing and you like the way it lays out, all you might have to do is count the posts, sections of the fence and amount of the fence boards you will need.  If you don't want to do that or you starting from scratch all you need to know is the total linear footage of the fence you want to build and start putting all that math skill you picked up in the 3rd grade to a good use.


Most of the times I use (4x4x8' pressure treated posts, 2x4x8' pressure treated and 1x6x6' cedar fence boards) so I will be talking about this materials in this post, but you can definitely apply this to any kind of a fence you want to build.
The most common fence will be about 6' high and the spacing between post are about 8'. You can probably be ok to go as low as 6' between the posts, but then you are wasting materials. If you go more than 8' the fence will be week and shaky especially if you live in a windy area. I usually like to stay between 8' and 7' but never exactly 8' because if I make a mistake in measuring and it will be slightly more than 8' I will not be able to use 8' boards for framing, and trust me most of us miss measure an inch once in the wile so its better to be safe. I usually pore about (2) 60lb bags of concrete per post, but that depends on the soil you might need more or less.  You will also need (3) pressure treated 2x4's per fence section to frame between posts. Make sure when calculating fence boards find out the actual size of the board you will use, for example I use 1x6 cedar board but the actual size of the board is 5 1/2" so I will take my total linear footage of the fence multiply it by 12 and divide it by 5 1/2 and that will give me the most accurate amount of fence boards I will need. I also use simpson metal connectors to connect 2x4's to the posts.
Ok and the last thing on our shopping list will be the fasteners. If you decide to use screws or nails the main thing to make sure that screws and nails are galvanized or outdoor rated, because regular screws and nails will rust when are in contact with moisture and the chemicals in pressure treated lumber will speed the metal corrosion causing nails to rust really fast and you are back where you started really soon. If you are not sure when purchasing fasteners ask a sales person at the lumber store what screws or nails are ok to use outdoor in pressure treated lumber. Also very important, if you decide to use nails make sure you get ring-shank nails. The little rings on the nail will act kind a like screws and will be harder to pull out providing stronger connection. Most of the times you will get green lumber which means it is not 100% dry, so after you build a fence and time goes by, the wood will eventually dry out complete and the hole created by the nail might increase a little and might be enough to make the smooth nail loose and in time work its way out. This is the reason sometimes you can see a nail here and there popping out of the fence board, because wind will constantly create a slight movement of the fence causing nails to pop out and making the fence week.

Ok looks like we got our planning and materials list covered, in the next post I will go dipper in to details on how to actually start on building the fence.
I hope this helps if you have additional questions fill free to ask.

You can always find me here:

Also visit my youtube channel

Monday, January 2, 2012

My first blog post

I would like to introduce myself first.
My name is Aleksandr Akinshev. I live in Washington state Seattle area. I am married and have three beautiful daughters. For the past ten years I have been working in the general construction field and since 2006 own a small construction company. Over the years working in the trade I acquired a lot of tricks of the trade and I decided to start this blog to share it with all that need help and I am sure that in the process I will learn a lot myself and continue to grow. I really do not know where to start so if anyone has any questions feel free to ask.
or email me