December 28, 2012

Update on DIY backyard cedar fence

The fence in the backyard is progressing well. As mentioned in this previous post, I am a novice carpenter so this is easy to do. I began by cladding the front of the old 4x4 posts, which did not need replacing but were a different wood, in cedar 1x4s; once the weather permits I will paint the sides of the old posts.

Then Tim and I began placing the 1x6s, three per panel. We opted to start at the far right, and spaced them 12-1/2 inches apart in height to allow for two 1x3s between each 1x6. We also chose to make them level, though the retaining wall is not; it may have been at one point but certainly no longer is.

Once the first three 1x6s were in, we matched the height of each one on the subsequent panels to the left, still using the level on each.
We had to cut the length of some of the 1x6x8s, and this prompted us to switch from the hand saw to the power mitre saw, a tool we have owned for at least three years but had not yet tried. It is actually very easy to use, though naturally you must pay attention and wear protective ear plugs and glasses.
Once the 1x6s were in place, it was time to head back to Rona. They only had 10-foot 1x3s in stock but with the power mitre saw that was not a problem. The guys were laughing at me for building a fence in winter, though I was not alone in their lumber yard; they have been very helpful including with fitting these twenty-eight 10-footers in the Pathfinder.

We used two shorter 1x3s to space them from each 1x6, an easy and surefire process to line up all boards neatly; they also only needed one screw on each side so the job of adding four 1x3s to each of the seven panels went much quicker than I had thought. (Rona suggested to allow at least 3/4 of an inch from any edge to prevent the cedar from splitting; I used one inch everywhere.)

There is more work left to do; we need to decide how to finish the top of the fence posts, which are currently very uneven, as you can tell, and possibly add another 1x3 near the ground. Again, the cedar planks are perfectly level, the retaining wall that carries them is not. On the far right side, there is a small section -- perhaps a foot wide -- that we still need to replace; if possible we may opt for a tiny gate there to allow access to the ravine.

The bigger challenge is to finish the fence on the left side as a big shed needs to be tackled first, a project we plan to attempt tomorrow. The shed, which looks more ramshackle on the outside than it is structurally on the inside, overhangs the retaining wall. It's about eight foot at the highest point. 

Both Tim and I have enjoyed demolishing and rebuilding the fence; as novice DIYers it is empowering to realize a project that had seemed too hard is actually quite manageable. I absolutely love working with cedar; it's soft yet sturdy, the colour is warm and diverse, and it smells fantastic.

And Luka isn't complaining either, as he loved playing ball in the snow between each board going up.


Jog Blog said...

What a great project you have embarked upon and (almost) completed. Very impressive.

Happy New Year to you, Tim and Luka :)

Margreet Dietz said...

Thanks Liz, it has been a lot of fun and the size and scope of the project has grown a little in the meantime:-)!

A very Happy New Year to you, K, I and A too! :-)