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Author Topic: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts  (Read 348 times)

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Offline subarctic_moose

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Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« on: June 17, 2021, 01:50:52 PM »
Hi all,

We're located in the Northern Sierra Nevada at about 5k elevation on 13 acres of forest. The previous owners did almost no thinning or fire mitigation, so I've been working on establishing defensible space and milling whatever I've taken down with my 661 and Granberg AK mill setup. So far, we've used 2nd generation pine to build the chicken coop, retaining walls and planter boxes. Now I'd like to get started on fencing our property line for future animals and general visibility. 

I really like the 3 or 4 wood-rail concept, and it does look great when done properly. However, it's going to take about 3,000 linear feet of fencing to cover all the boundaries. At an interval of 10 feet, this would equate to ~1000, 10ft boards and 300 fence posts. I have the pine available on the property to mill that amount, but I'm not sure how to calculate the expected lifespan for a fence like that. The pine is a mix of Ponderosa, Jeffrey, and possibly Sierra Lodgepole and we also have some Incense Cedar and Doug Fir, but not enough for this scale of project.

  • Is it feasible to expect a pine rail / pine post fence to hold up for a while? I'm guessing this would take me hundreds of hours to complete over the next six months, and it would be a bummer if everything rotted away after 5 years.
  • Should the wood be dried prior to installing boards and posts? I saw on another thread that someone had mentioned installing green posts, but I'm guessing that green rail boards will stress the posts as they shrink in length.
  • Is it nuts to think that milling 1000 board feet with an AK mill is a good idea :)?
  • This would function more as a general "property fence", and animals will probably have pens in smaller sections. Not as worried about animal proofing the entire boundary.

Thanks everyone!
--
Here's a photo of the coop and garden: All of it was milled green at 1x4 or 2x4 dimensions, with exception of the cedar planks that for coop siding. The steps and retaining wall were just squared off with the saw. It's amazing how quickly that wood went down to 5% moisture once it was stood up and directly south facing. Cheers.



 

Offline Southside

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2021, 02:06:17 PM »
Well - 1,000 1x6-10' boards would be 5,000 BF of lumber, and 300 4x4-8' posts would come to another 3,200 BF, add in the stuff that does not make the cut and I would guess you are looking at 10,000 BF of lumber.  

That would probably make you the most experienced CSM operator in history - just saying.  Might want to look at having it sawn, or picking up a manual band mill. 
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Offline subarctic_moose

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2021, 02:25:05 PM »
Well - 1,000 1x6-10' boards would be 5,000 BF of lumber, and 300 4x4-8' posts would come to another 3,200 BF, add in the stuff that does not make the cut and I would guess you are looking at 10,000 BF of lumber.  

That would probably make you the most experienced CSM operator in history - just saying.  Might want to look at having it sawn, or picking up a manual band mill.
Wow, good point. I guess I can't do math today!

I've been waiting for a buddy of mine to take delivery of his Woodmizer that he ordered in January, but it's not scheduled to come until Oct/Nov. I've been managing about 50-70 BFH with the 661, or about eight 1" cuts by ten feet on trees 18-24" in diameter. This doesn't include prep time or maintenance though. You're probably right that 100-200 hours of milling with the saw might be overly ambitious...

Offline Southside

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2021, 02:35:49 PM »
All joking aside, in addition to the time component I think you will be rebuilding your 661 before such a project was completed, maybe a couple of times. For sure you will replace several bars, chains, files, gallons of bar oil, gasoline, knee pads, ibuprofen,  etc.  Know of any discounts on back surgery?

CSM has it's place, but making low value fence boards is definitely not it.  
Franklin buncher and skidder
JD Processor
Woodmizer LT Super 70 and LT35 sawmill, KD250 kiln, BMS 250 sharpener and setter
Riehl Edger
Woodmaster 725 and 4000 planner and moulder
Enough cows to ensure there is no spare time.
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Offline subarctic_moose

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2021, 03:24:07 PM »
All joking aside, in addition to the time component I think you will be rebuilding your 661 before such a project was completed, maybe a couple of times. For sure you will replace several bars, chains, files, gallons of bar oil, gasoline, knee pads, ibuprofen,  etc.  Know of any discounts on back surgery?

CSM has it's place, but making low value fence boards is definitely not it.  
That is also a great point. Provided that the available pine can provide the base for a decent fence, it looks like I would want to wait until I can actually get my hands on a bandsaw mill.

Offline Ianab

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2021, 05:09:48 PM »
It probably depends a lot on climate, but untreated pine posts would be growing mushrooms in maybe 6 months here...  I understand your climate would be colder / drier so they would last longer, but I'd still expect the fence to be temporary. 

Cedar posts would last much longer. Fence posts is actually a recognised use for Incense Cedar on account of it's durability. Then use heart pine for the boards that aren't in ground contact, with your climate they should last pretty well off the ground. 

But like the others say, do the job with an actual sawmill.  For that size job I think you could justify a little Woodland or similar machine. Still a big job, but probably 10X quicker and easier than a CSM, and you will still have a sawmill at the end. 

Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Nebraska

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2021, 05:50:06 PM »
Use something treated for your posts, as the boards may last fairly well above ground, especially  if you coat them to protect them. (Many many choices for coatings them). My perimeter fence is mostly creosote posts in the ground 20 plus years doing ok. My few green posts are good if they were treated for ground contact on the label, not treated to refusal.  I found a treated to refusal green post rotted off yesterday, in a few days when its cooler I will replace it.

Offline nybhh

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2021, 08:08:09 PM »
http://poles.com/epages/08fd78c5-abfa-4217-9263-68fec9605ccc.mobile/en_US/?ObjectPath=/Shops/08fd78c5-abfa-4217-9263-68fec9605ccc/Categories/Products/7/Copper_Naphthenate_Concentrate_8_68_by_Volume

Stuff works great.  I have an EWP (heartwood) bridge I built a few years back that was coated with the 8% stuff mixed 4:1 with diesel and it is holding up better than some of the CCA SYP from my local lumber yard.  The bridge timbers is on concrete piers though and not ground contact.
Woodmizer LT15, Kubota L3800, Stihl MS261 & 40 acres of ticks trees.

Offline subarctic_moose

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2021, 12:21:02 PM »
It probably depends a lot on climate, but untreated pine posts would be growing mushrooms in maybe 6 months here...  I understand your climate would be colder / drier so they would last longer, but I'd still expect the fence to be temporary.

Cedar posts would last much longer. Fence posts is actually a recognised use for Incense Cedar on account of it's durability. Then use heart pine for the boards that aren't in ground contact, with your climate they should last pretty well off the ground.

But like the others say, do the job with an actual sawmill.  For that size job I think you could justify a little Woodland or similar machine. Still a big job, but probably 10X quicker and easier than a CSM, and you will still have a sawmill at the end.
I would love to use cedar for all the posts. My initial concern was that I just don't have the quantity available on my property to supply 300+ posts without taking down the few large mature cedars that are established. But I do have a large milling operation (SPI) down the road from me, might be time to reach out and ask about buying spare cedar logs.

Offline subarctic_moose

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2021, 12:22:45 PM »
http://poles.com/epages/08fd78c5-abfa-4217-9263-68fec9605ccc.mobile/en_US/?ObjectPath=/Shops/08fd78c5-abfa-4217-9263-68fec9605ccc/Categories/Products/7/Copper_Naphthenate_Concentrate_8_68_by_Volume

Stuff works great.  I have an EWP (heartwood) bridge I built a few years back that was coated with the 8% stuff mixed 4:1 with diesel and it is holding up better than some of the CCA SYP from my local lumber yard.  The bridge timbers is on concrete piers though and not ground contact.
Thanks for the advice, I actually came across your bridge build writeup a month or two ago, that thing is great! I need to re-read about how and when you applied the solution and how long you had to let it sit before staining or painting it.

Offline nybhh

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2021, 02:07:28 PM »
Thank you. It has been great and really transformed how we use the property.

I applied the solution to green wood and stained right over it the next day.  Being that I used diesel as my carrier for the copper nepethenate, it ended up being an oil based product so I had to use an oil based stain as well. Im not sure I would attempt to paint over it and doubt anything would adhere unless it too was oil based.  Maybe after a year or so it would with a good primer but I generally try avoid film-forming coatings for low-maintenance outdoor stuff.

The stain I used was TWP (Total Wood Protection) and I swear by the stuff too.  It still looks nearly as the day I applied it which is insane for an outdoor horizontal surface that gets driven over on a regular basis.  I suspect the oil might soak in better the lumber was dried first but who can wait around for large posts or timbers to dry?

If I had access to cedar, I would use that obviously over pine but I would dip treat any post I installed regardless of species.  I think the heartwood of pine will outlast the sapwood of cedar but that is only my opinion as I think the sapwood of any species just isnt going to hold up to the elements as it is literally designed to transport water from the roots to the crown.  If stumps in the ground are any indication, pine can last a pretty long time around here.

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Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Pine Rail Fencing and Posts
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2021, 03:22:32 PM »
Following along on this thread. Just wanted to jump in and attest to the job NYBHH did on that bridge, he finished just about the time we met and since then I have walked over it 'a few times'. Rock solid and pretty as a new penny. Still looks like new.
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I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.


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