Split rail fences come in various wood choices and sizes. They can be made with three rails or two per section. Sometimes, they are fitted with poultry wire to provide additional protection from wildlife or to keep pets contained.
To begin the project, planning is an important step. Many towns have easement requirement that stipulate a fence must be a given distance from the property line and most towns also require permits, so consulting local ordinances is a must when writing up plans. The local one-call system should also be called before starting the project. This phone call sends all utility companies to the site to mark where any underground lines may be on the property so that the home owner can be sure not to hit these lines with the deep digging required for rail fence installation.
Once permits are in place and the project is approved by all necessary agencies, the property can be marked for building. The easiest way to proceed is to mark all lines and planned post hole locations with spray paint. If renting an auger, or electric post hole digger, pre-marking can help to save time and cut down on rental costs.
The length of space between post holes varies depending on the exact measurements of the building site and the length of rails chosen. Most rail fence posts are spaced 10 feet (3.0 meters) apart. If the line to be built is not spaced in exact 10 feet (3.0 meter) increments, the best thing to do is to spacing the leftover footage evenly at either end of the line for symmetry.
There are three different types of posts: end posts, line posts, and corner posts. Determine the correct ones for each selection. Digging post holes requires going below the frost line, which is generally about 2 feet but deeper in areas with harsher winters. Using a manual post hole digger or auger, dig the hole 12 inches (30.5 cm) wide and about 6 inches(15.2 cm) deeper than necessary. Place 6 inches (15.2 cm) of gravel into the new hole and place the post on top of the gravel.
As the rail fence posts are placed, lay a string across the tops of the posts and measure with a level to be sure that they are even. If a post is off level, it must be fixed from the bottom with additional gravel or digging. It is important to keep them even, since any asymmetry will show in the lines of the rails. It is usually acceptable to use soil to refill the hole for a rail fence since it is a low-lying structure, but concrete is recommended for the strongest hold. If using concrete, pour it in once the posts are level and support the post with beams to keep them straight during drying.
Once the posts are in place and dry, the rails can be slipped into the rail holes in the posts. If adding poultry wire to the rail fence, choose the correct gauge for the containment purposes at hand since they are graded at different levels to handle particular beasts like rabbits or dogs. This wire can be stapled to the backside of the fence with heavy duty staples.