how to extreme

Build a Shadowbox Privacy Fence

Construction How-To, Fences, Fencing, Outdoor Living May 1, 2009 Matt Weber


Mark off your fence layout with stakes and twine.

Mark off your fence layout with stakes and twine.

We fastened all our connections with hot-dipped galvanized nails with ringed shanks for extra holding power. Make sure your fasteners are approved for exterior use in chemically treated lumber.

 

Planning the Layout

To a large degree, the construction and style of your fence is up to you, but always check with local officials regarding building codes and any necessary permits. Some neighborhoods may also have certain architectural guidelines or “covenants” that restrict design, and of course you’ll need to double-check that the location of your proposed fence is not on a neighbor’s property. It’s also wise to locate any underground utilities so as not to dig into disaster. You can dial “811” nationally to get underground utility lines, cables and pipes marked for free.

Pull the line tightly between corner stakes, then stake the line intermittently.

Pull the line tightly between corner stakes, then stake the line intermittently.

With that said, the height, décor and trajectory of your fence are up to you, and may be dictated by other obstacles in your yard, such as trees and sheds. For my fence, I ran 12 feet out from the front corner of my house (enclosing a side door), made a 90-degree turn and ran the side of the fence square with the house, parallel to the house wall. I squared in a large section of the backyard and ended the fence at the wall on the opposite side of the house. My design is just an example. Although your landscape may differ dramatically, the basic steps in fence construction remain the same.

With the line in place, measure for the fence post locations and spray paint an "X" over the exact spot to dig.

With the line in place, measure for the fence post locations and spray paint an “X” over the exact spot to dig.

First, mark your layout with stakes and twine. A stake should be placed precisely at every corner post as well as intermittently along the fence perimeter to keep the string tight and straight. With the layout completely lined with string, walk the perimeter with a tape measure and spray paint, painting a large “X” to pinpoint the precise placement of each fence posts.

 

A rented two-man power auger and an electric demolition hammer helped greatly when digging the holes.

A rented two-man power auger and an electric demolition hammer helped greatly when digging the holes.

Fence posts are usually 6 to 8 feet on center. The closer the fence posts, the stronger the fence. This measurement is also crucial for the sake of your materials, because dimensional lumber is sold in standard sizes. So, if your posts are accidentally spaced 8 feet, 1 inch apart, then an 8-foot board will be too short. In such a case, you would have to purchase a 10-foot board and cut off 1-foot, 11 inches to create a stringer long enough. Obviously this would be an expensive waste of material.