The Fence Trilogy - Rails and Gates

In March, I built a fence with friends. See Preps and Posts for the first part of the story. This is the continuation concerning rails and gates.

Since Roberta wanted the finished fence to have domed arches like those on a fence down the street, we went on a field trip, and we brought a measuring tape. We measured the distance from the ground to the top of each of the three rails, then from the top of the top rail to the top of the arch. Back at Roberta's house, I took a 2x4 and made a "story stick," by transferring the measurements we took to the 2x4 as if it were one of the posts. (Thanks to Mr. Norm Abram for that little tip. It saved a lot of time, since we never had to remeasure rail heights!) Then, Roberta marked every single post while Mike and I measured, cut, and nailed up the rails. This was the first place where my air compressor and Porter Cable FC350 nailer came in handy... My Delta 10" miter saw helped, too.

Roberta, Mike, and I developed a pretty good rhythm that day--and most of the work days!--and we just banged through it.

We dodged rain the entire month and every Friday and Saturday work session were contingent upon the weather, but usually we got a good bit of work done before the rain came. One Saturday morning, I came over early despite the rain and worked on the gates--there would be three in all. Since the posts were up, we knew the gate widths, and since we had the story stick, we knew the rail heights, so we built the gates in the garage. Roberta had purchased a metal bracket kit comprised of braced right angles with the hinges welded on. It was really pretty easy to work with, except for a few blobby welds that threw off the rail length measurements since the rails couldn't butt up all the way to the end of the metal.

Gate installation was pretty straightforward. Mike held the gate while I screwed it up. In, I mean. Screwed it in. Oh, and I really need to get new batteries for my cordless Makita drill. I've had that drill since...2000? Yeah, those batteries last about as long as Data's blinders from the Goonies.

So with the rails and the gates up, the pickets and arches were all that separated us from a job well done.


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