How to Install a Split Rail Fence

by Rebecca Boardman; Updated September 26, 2017
Old split rail fencing

Split rail fence is one of the oldest, and most beautiful methods of fencing. It utilizes raw materials that are readily available in most forested areas, and can be assembled using the most basic of tools. Split rail fencing can be a practical choice if you live in a wooded area where you will be doing some construction. Since you will be felling trees anyway, this is a great method of recycling the downed timbers and making an attractive and useful fence.

Items you will need

  • Trees
  • Axe
  • Wedge
  • Helmet
  • Gloves
Step 1

Measure your fenceline. You need to mark your corner with groundstakes. Take a guideline and tie it from one corner to the next to make sure your line is straight.

Step 2

Set your corner posts. These will need to be set into concrete to a depth of at least 24 inches and cure for a minimum of 72 hours. Make sure your corner posts are level and in a straight line to each other.

Step 3

Set your guidewire. This is a single wire that you will run from corner post to corner post, approximately six inches from the ground. It will keep your fence line straight and allow you to measure your fence precisely.

Step 4

Measure your line and cut your rails. You will need the rails to match in length and size as closely as possible to maintain a trim appearance.

Step 5

Set your posts. Most often these will be 10 to 12 feet from each other. They will need to be set in post holes to a minimum of one third of their length. Most splits rails are about four feet high, so you need a six foot post. Using your axe and your wedge, split these posts from the top to the bottom, forming a split that is wider at the top than at the bottom.

Step 6

Place your rails into your posts. This is done by hammering the rails down into the split posts. Care must be taken not to split the post so badly that it cannot hold the rail. If done with care, the rails will fit very tightly into the wedge created, and form the perfect fence.

Tips

  • Get professional help if you have not worked with split rail fencing before. It is better to do it correctly the first time and save time and expense.

Warnings

  • Always use caution when handling an axe or any other tool with a cutting edge.

Photo Credits

  • Courtesy of http://www.sciway.net/photos/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2;_itemId=1415&g2;_serialNumber=3