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Build a Shadowbox Privacy Fence

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


Installing the Fence Boards

Attaching the fence boards or pickets is actually one of the simpler phases of construction. I cut a custom spacing block slightly narrower than the width of the fence boards, so there would be a slight degree of overlap among the alternating pickets.

This shadowbox-style of fence features alternating pickets for extra depth and some degree of see-through visibility.

This shadowbox-style of fence features alternating pickets for extra depth and some degree of see-through visibility.

Place the first board along the corner post and use a 4-foot level to find plumb. Nail it home, using two nails per stringer location. Place the spacing block next to the first fence board and position the second picket against it. Drive in one nail at the top stringer. Use that nail as a pivot while you find plumb, then nail that picket home as well. Follow suit down the stringer. In case your fence boards vary somewhat in height, keep an eye on the tops so they line up consistently and adjust their placement against the ground if necessary.

The soft wood of the cypress fencing accepts stain easily and its preservative oils make it naturally resistant to decay.

The soft wood of the cypress fencing accepts stain easily and its preservative oils make it naturally resistant to decay.

Once you reach the next post, return to the first post on the opposite side of the fence. On the opposite side of the stringer you will center a picket across from each space provided by your spacing block to achieve the alternating shadowbox style. Install the boards in the same manner, spacing, plumbing and nailing. Then repeat the same process for each set of stringers as you move down the fence.

I used Armstrong-Clark's semi-transparent Sierra Redwood stain, and highly recommend applying it to the materials prior to assembly. It's much easier.

I used Armstrong-Clark’s semi-transparent Sierra Redwood stain, and highly recommend applying it to the materials prior to assembly. It’s much easier.

 

Finishing Touches

I would highly encourage you to prefinish your fence with waterproofer and/or stain before assembling the fence. It’s much easier than staining the fence once it’s in place. However, I didn’t do that here, due to a combination of editorial due dates and inclement rainy weather. I needed to assemble the fence for the instructive purposes of this magazine issue, and while I could build in the rain, I couldn’t stain in the rain.