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Build a Shadowbox Privacy Fence

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

That being said, a quality wood treatment will help add your preferred color tone as well as help to protect against rotting, water-damage and damaging UV rays. I used Armstrong-Clark’s semi-transparent Sierra Redwood tone, for a deep tone that will match the exterior house trim I hope to build next spring. But that’s another story.


Side Note

Fence Gate Design

This fence had two gates: a two-door gate for a pickup truck, and a single-door gate at the front of the house. To build them, I took a return trip to Lowe’s and bought the biggest, beefiest Stanley hinge hardware they had available. I abandoned the shadowbox style for the doors, and used the traditional method of placing all pickets on one side of the fence rails. This provided solid would to mount the gate hinges.

When constructing the gate doors, use ample bracing. For large doors, skip the “Z” shaped bracing in favor of what I call a “double Z.” In other words, I built each door with three 2-by-4 cross braces perpendicular to the fencing and two diagonal braces connecting them, with the fence boards nailed into each brace they cross. Correctly constructing your support posts is also critical. You’ll get more stability from 6-by-6 posts rather than 4-by-4’s. Each post should be anchored with a concrete footing and be buried in the ground a third of its height. At the base of the two posts, you can add extra strength by installing a horizontal post flush between the two, or use a poured bridge of concrete, to prevent the posts from pulling towards each other at the bottom due to the weight of the gate doors.

Rear side of single-door gate, not yet stained...

Rear side of single-door gate, not yet stained…

Front side of single-door gate. The post on the "latch" side of the gate is mounted to the cinder block wall with toggle bolts.

Front side of single-door gate. The post on the “latch” side of the gate is mounted to the cinder block wall with toggle bolts.




“Great job on the Shadowbox Privacy Fence. I spent a few years managing fence companies and building fences, so I appreciate the details. Here’s a couple of other ideas: Before nailing the pickets, walk the line and locate the high and low spots. Tack a picket (preferably at posts) to each of those high or low points. Start a nail in the top of those pickets and string a line between them to align pickets up to as you go.

Also, if your material is pretty uniform, you can plumb a picket at the post, then use the same spacer top and bottom for a few pickets using the level to check plumb periodically.

Thanks again for a great site!”

— L. Savage, San Diego



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