How to Build a Picket Fence
Building a picket fence from cedar or treated lumber adds beauty, privacy and a welcome buffer from the street.
Once you have determined the property line and legal setback, mark out the location of the fence. Mark the locations of the corner post holes with spray paint. Mark the locations of the remaining line posts, keeping the distance between the posts evenly spaced at approximately 55 1/2".
Using a post hole digger, dig holes approximately 18" deep and 10" in diameter. Add a few inches of gravel to the bottom of the holes for drainage. Insert 4" x 4" posts in holes. Ensure the posts are level and plumb. Mix fast-drying cement according to manufacturer's directions and pour it into the holes. Let cure for 48 hours.
The bottom rails are 2" x 4"s with 2" x 2"s on top with holes drilled in to accept the 1/2" pieces of electrical conduit. The conduit will be sandwiched between a bottom and top rail. Attach 2" x 2"s down the center of 2" x 4"s with 2 1/2" deck screws. Measure and cut so that they fit snugly between the fence posts. Construct top rails in same fashion except do not yet screw the 2" x 2"s onto the 2" x 4"s.
Draw a line down the center of the top and bottom railing 2" x 2"s. Using a drill press and 3/4" drill bit, cut holes for conduit along the center lines. Consult local codes to determine proper spacing between pickets. Repeat the process for all rails, making sure that the holes in top and bottom rail sets line up.
Using 3" deck screws, attach the bottom rails to the posts. Do so by drilling pilot holes and toenailing the rails to the posts at proper height. Make sure rails are level before attaching.
Cut a piece of scrap wood that will be used to support the top rail as it is attached to post. Use the same piece of wood as a guide all the way around. Center the pre-drilled 2" x 2" top rails against the posts and toenail in place with 3" deck screws.
Cut the electrical conduit to the proper height. Insert the conduits through the holes in the top rail and into the holes in the bottom rail.
Place the remaining top rail 2" x 4"s on top of the already attached 2" x 2"s. Toenail into posts with 3" deck screws. Using a chalk line, make a line on the top of your posts at the desired height. Cut them off with a circular saw.