OK, you have obviously read about how to set your fence post correctly and are now ready to put up the more of your fence (If you haven't read that article you should, really, I'm not kidding. Please don't make me beg!).
This will involve putting up the stringers (the 2x4s that connect to posts together and which the pickets attach to). Properly setting the posts helped determine how strong your fence will be, and the stringers and the pickets will determine the look of the project. Hanging your stringers properly will help further the structural integrity of the fence, and it will help make hanging the pickets easier.
Now buckle-up and get ready to hang 'em like you mean it!
In order to move ahead with your fence project you will need the following items:
- (2) 2x4-8' pieces of either pressure treated or redwood lumber for every space between posts.
- Either galvanized nails or coated deck screws 1½" long. You will need 8 fasteners per section if you toe nail. If you use A35 hardware you will need 36 nails per section.
- Either a power driver for screws or pneumatic nailer/ manual hammer for the nails.
- A level for flat runs of fencing.
- A saw, either hand or power.
- A helper to hold the stringers in place.
- A waterproofer.
- Either a sprayer or brushes to apply the waterproofer.
- A35 hardware from Simpson. Using these will require the use of nails and not screws.
The first step is to prep to hang your stringers. If you left 8' between posts you can hang the stringers with no cutting. If you installed them 8" on center you will need to cut the stringers to about 92¼" long. Always measure to make sure of your length. Also remember to measure the top stringer and bottom stringers separately. Warp, twist, and inaccuracy in post settings can mean that these two measurements are different enough to warrant separate cuts.
Next you need to mark your starting post to hang the stringers. Mark the post to accept the top stringer about 18" from the top. Mark the post about 30" from the ground for the bottom stringer.
You will then hang one side of the stringer to the post. Turn the stringer so that the larger face (the 4 side of the 2x4) will be the side that the pickets attach to. If you are just going to hang the pickets in a traditional solid wood fence style you will flush the stringer to the outside of the fence post. If you are going to install the pickets shadowbox style or with Gothic pickets you will need to hang the stringer dead center on the post.
When you attach the stringer to the post there are 2 ways to do it. You can either "toe nail' the stringers on or you can use hardware. Hardware is the recommended method.
To toenail the stringers to the post you nail or screw through the stringer and into the post at an angle. For screws you can start the screw straight into the stringer, and then as soon as it bites into the wood; apply lateral pressure to move it to the desired angle and finish driving it into the post.
For nails you drive them at the angle desired from the get go. Having a pneumatic nailer makes it very easy. Toe nail one end with 2 nails or screws (one on top side and one on the bottom), then use the level to make sure you hang the opposite side in the right spot; also with 2 fasteners. Repeat for every stringer of every fence section.
If you are going to use hardware you will need 2 of the A35 Simpson hangers per stringer for the fence. Bend the hangers according to the manufacturers instructions, and attach flush to the ends of the stringers. Attach one side to the post with the fasteners needed, and then use the level to make sure you hang the opposite side in the right spot. Repeat for every stringer of every section.
These methods will serve you well if you are working with fairly level ground. If you are going up or down a slope you will need a couple different things.
First i would recommend getting 10' pieces of 2x4 for your stringers to make sure that you don't have to try to stretch the 2x4s to work on the angle you need. Then mark both posts of every section at the recommended heights to make sure you keep a uniform angle. Also, with your helper holding the stringers in place, you can mark the angles you will need to cut to make sure you get good contact on both sides.
Finally, take this opportunity to use your waterproofer to make sure that the framework of your fence is protected by applying a coat to the stringers and posts now, before the pickets are hung, to make sure that all wooden members are given the maximum chance for a long healthy life span.
Now you are ready to pick out your pickets and hang them when next we speak.