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Author Topic: split rail fences  (Read 9321 times)

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Offline Bro. Noble

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split rail fences
« on: April 27, 2009, 09:54:13 AM »
I'm interested in using some rail fences for landscaping purposes in our yard. 

How do you split rails?

I know there are several different types of rail fences,  but I havn't been able to find pictures of them.  Do you have pictures or a link to a website that might? 

I'd really like to see pictures ssthat you might have of landscaping you have done using fence rails. :)

Thanks,  Noble
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Offline Don K

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2009, 11:50:31 AM »
I built one in my front yard back in the mid eighties from red cedar. I cut my rails to length and split them with a axe. The post were smaller logs split in half. The big logs were split using wedges. It is all gone now except for a couple of sections. If I can get the camera from my wife I'll post a pic. I might have a older one of the finished fence.

Don
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Offline Modat22

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2009, 12:54:20 PM »
I like the looks of split fences but the thought of building my own makes me very tired. How rough was the splitting Don?
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Offline beenthere

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2009, 12:58:44 PM »
Noble
I can remember doing it for several hundred feet of wh. oak rail fencing (a buddy contracted for it, and I had the wh. oak so "helped" ) back in the early 70's.

We used several steel wedges, a good axe, and a maul and a glut or two. The glut was a larger wood wedge to force the split farther apart to make room to cut the stray splits and keep things going somewhat straight.

We would start with the steel wedges on both ends of the 10' wh oak logs. Then "steer" the split with the axe to make better rails. The rails were triangular, about 4-6", give or take.
The rail fence was of the zig-zag kind, with no posts in the ground.

I googled "splitting rails Mother Earth" and found a description and some pics. No mention of using a glut, which I think is an unfortunate error.
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Modern-Homesteading/1977-05-01/Its-Easy-to-Learn-the-Old-Time-Art-of-Rail-Splitting.aspx


Here is another
http://thelibrary.org/lochist/periodicals/bittersweet/fa81a.htm



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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2009, 01:16:40 PM »
Commercially sold split-rail fencing is split with a modified hydraulic splitter.  Just like a regular firewood splitter, but much longer.  Most all of it that's sold around here is black locust.  It's the perfect wood for the job: highly rot-resistant heartwood, small sapwood band, relatively easily split, and usually too small to be of much use for anything else.
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Offline Haytrader

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2009, 01:25:41 PM »
Well, DanG if I didn't get beat  to the punch.

Noble,  I was gonna suggest you do what Dodgy said, but with some variation.
You could have a firewood splitter like wedge and push the piece you want to split through with your wheel loader.
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Offline Larry

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2009, 01:30:25 PM »
You could call up cedarman and ask real nice to borrow his split rail splitter.  Think there is a picture of it somewhere in this place but DanG iffen I can find it.
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Offline Don K

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2009, 07:35:14 PM »
Modat, I was about 22 at the time so best I can remember it was easy. I built a cedar picket fence around part of my garden last fall, I split them boards on the mill. ;) ;D  My wife informed me I must duplicate it where the old split rail was, I'll be splitting them on the mill as well. ;D

Don

 





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Offline Don K

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2009, 07:44:30 PM »
I found a few pics in my gallery that shows part of the old rail fence I built. It has been taken down due to some of the posts breaking off at ground level because of not having much heart wood.

 







Don
Lucky to own a WM LT40HDD35, blessed to have a wife that encouraged me to buy it.     Now that\'s true love!
Massey Ferguson 1547 FWD with FEL  06 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4X4 Dozer Retriever Husky 359 20\" Bar  Man, life is getting good!

Offline Haytrader

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2009, 09:12:40 PM »
DonK,

That nearly looks like a picket fence    ;)

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Offline Mooseherder

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2009, 09:13:51 PM »
Commercially sold split-rail fencing is split with a modified hydraulic splitter.  Just like a regular firewood splitter, but much longer.  Most all of it that's sold around here is black locust.  It's the perfect wood for the job: highly rot-resistant heartwood, small sapwood band, relatively easily split, and usually too small to be of much use for anything else.

This is exactly what the Doc did on his Farm.  He said the folks who split the rails have homemade hydraulic splitters that make quick work of it.  These are also Locust.


 













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Offline Bro. Noble

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2009, 09:47:31 PM »
Thanks for the links, pictures, suggestions,  and the PM from the Furbster.  Between Beenthere's links and Mooseherder's pictures,  I think I know what I want to try ;D
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Offline woodbowl

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2009, 10:37:53 PM »
Thats a good looking split rail fence and a lot of work back in the day. I've always wondered how they made that type of fence, with nails being in short supply and all. You've got 2 post holding 3 run of rails. I've seen wire and nails holding a modern day fence  together, but I suspect that 150 years ago things were quite different. Maybe some folks used  wood dowels. Does anyone know how it was done originally?
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Offline beenthere

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2009, 02:16:07 AM »
I don't think they put the fences up like that (post and rail), but instead used the zig-zag method of laying the rails up from the ground, one on top of the other. They could zig-zag around trees, rocks, and along the borders of their fields. Only tools were saw, axe, maul, and wedges.  (and a lot of hard work).

More modern fences were laid straight, prolly to use less material.

My take on it anyway, and from some of the sites I looked at.
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Offline blame

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2009, 02:29:32 AM »
thats some good looking fence there Don  my sister wants a split rail made from ERC  i'm wondering if she has enough thou

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2009, 04:13:50 AM »
On this small farm they used good size cedar for the posts and used a chisel,I suppose, to cut the holes out to run the rails into. There use to be a few old just about rotten out posts up in the woods on the old walls.
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Offline woodmills1

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2009, 07:31:28 AM »
I built a short zigzag style fence.  I used the first cuts from a white oak quartersawn cut job.  I called it a gettysburg fence, because that style is all around the memorials there in Pa.

I looked for the pictures here on the forum but they must have been posted before the melt down
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Offline woodmills1

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2009, 07:35:25 AM »
I did a search, it showed up as a worm fence

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,599.0.html
James Mills,Lovely wife,collect old tools,vacuuming fool,36 bdft/hr,oak paper cutter,ebonic yooper rapper nauga seller, Blue Ox? its not fast, 2 cat family, LT70,edger, 375 bd ft/hr, we like Bob,free heat,no oil 12 years,big splitter, baked stuffed lobster, still cuttin the logs dere IAM

Offline Cedarman

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2009, 08:28:56 AM »
When splitting only a few rails, we take a chainsaw and bore through the side of the log making sure we go through the pith of the post.  Look at the ends to see whether it is off center.  Then drive a steel wedge into the cut.  The chainsaw cut makes it much easier to get the wedge in and forces the wedge through the center of the post.  Then use axes or mauls to spit the post in 1/2.  Do same with each 1/2 making quarters.
In the last couple of years we have made about 13,000 split rails with our long rail splitter.  It is designed to do 4 at once or 6 at once up to 10 1/2' long.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline woodmills1

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Re: split rail fences
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2009, 10:02:26 PM »
BTW there are no nails in the fence I built with Dad.












boy do I miss him
James Mills,Lovely wife,collect old tools,vacuuming fool,36 bdft/hr,oak paper cutter,ebonic yooper rapper nauga seller, Blue Ox? its not fast, 2 cat family, LT70,edger, 375 bd ft/hr, we like Bob,free heat,no oil 12 years,big splitter, baked stuffed lobster, still cuttin the logs dere IAM


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