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Build a Shadowbox Privacy Fence

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


A traditional method to plumb and brace posts is to use a 4-foot level and a couple of pivoting wood legs.

A traditional method to plumb and brace posts is to use a 4-foot level and a couple of pivoting wood legs.

To set the posts, start by filling the bottom 4 to 6 inches of the holes with gravel, which will allow some degree of drainage to help prevent rot at the base of the post.

Pour the water over the dry concrete to set the posts.

Pour the water over the dry concrete to set the posts.

Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete can be poured easily into the post hole dry. No mixing is required.

Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete can be poured easily into the post hole dry. No mixing is required.

It’s important to set all the corner posts first. If you have a helper, they can hold the post upright while you use a hand level to make sure it is plumb. A post level is also helpful, because it straps around the post while placing level vials on two sides of the posts. A post level frees your hands, which is very helpful if you’re setting the posts alone.

Use a story pole to mark your stringer locations along the posts.

Use a story pole to mark your stringer locations along the posts.

Once you’ve established that the post is plumb left to right and back to front, you’re ready to add concrete. However, you must brace the post in place while you add the concrete. If you have a helper, they can hold it for you. Otherwise, you’ll need to nail some scrap lengths of wood (I use 1-by-2’s) that extend from the post to the ground to act as moveable braces, with the nails serving as their pivot point for adjustment. Plumb the post, adjust the braces to hold it plumb, and then add the concrete. Use a sledge hammer to pound the posts into the ground once surrounded by concrete, then recheck for plumb and adjust if necessary. It’s a good idea to leave the braces in place while the concrete sets.