How to Build a Horizontal Fence

In keeping with our brand, the team here at Hunter & Boone will occasionally post "how-to's"  that encourage the development of manly skills and disciplines. Part of the motivation behind the creation of Hunter & Boone, much like Brett McKay's Art of Manliness, is to encourage men to be better men. That can happen in a lot of ways, but few are as practical as getting outside and building something.

If this project were a ski slope, it would probably be a advanced blue. You would have needed to worked with wood before and be comfortable handling power tools. Also, if you don't have power tools (drill, miter saw, tack gun) it would be quite difficult to complete this project.


Ready Mix Cement

1.5 inch wide steel poles (8 ft tall)

Ground contact treated 2x4's

Cedar 1x4's

Deck screws

Simpson Strong Tie Connectors

All of your supplies will of course be project dependent. You'll have to plan it out to see how much you need. 

Building the Fence

The first step of building your fence is to actually take a step back and design your fence. Develop a plan - which does not (and will not) be exact, but will help you plan for the amount of material you will need and help you lay out where the posts need to be situated. 

After you have your plan and materials, you are ready to start building. 

 Front left side of yard pre-fence

Front left side of yard pre-fence

 Larger front right side of yard pre-fence

Larger front right side of yard pre-fence

First, dig the holes where your metal posts will be situated. Once you have the holes dug, insert your metal pole, making sure it is level and the correct height, and pour in the cement and let dry. It is not a requirement to use metal poles, and may prove more difficult if you want to have a complete "wood-look" fence as you will have to wrap the poles in 2x4's, but we felt it was worth the extra work as metal tends to resist rot and warping whereas wood does not. The discretion is yours. 

After the cement has cured, wrap your metal posts using 4 - 2x4's. The width of the pole matters here as the typical 2" inch thick pole will be too thick to wrap using 2x4's. We chose to use heavy duty deck screws to screw our 2x4's together as they are both super durable and very weather resisant. to We had to go to a fence supply company and purchase 1.5 inch wide poles to accommodate our plan. Again, the discretion is your how you would like to handle this step. 

 Poles wrapped in 2x4 veneer

Poles wrapped in 2x4 veneer

Once you have all your poles wrapped, you are ready to install the supports that will hold the actual fence together. We chose to use our weather-treated 2x4's as supports as they are rated to withstand outdoor conditions. We structured our support (as you can see in the picture above) in a "I", in order to provide both horizontal and vertical base for our cedar panels. You'll use Simpson Strong Tie (or something similar) to attach the supports to your cemented in poles. 

Horizontal Fence Progress

The next and final step after you have built your supports is to start putting on the cedar panels. We used a pneumatic tack gun to tack the panels on to the supports, then afterward screwed them in using heavy duty deck screws. 

Also, it is important to note - you will want the panels to be spaced evenly apart (unless you decide you want them touching). We used a piece of scrap wood as a guide to make our panels consistently spaced about 1/2 inch apart.  

Once you have finished installing your panels, you can choose to paint or stain your fence to your desired color. Our choice was actually a customized version of the semi transparent Russet stain found at Lowe's Home Improvement. 

 Finished horizontal fence front left

Finished horizontal fence front left

 Finished horizontal fence front right

Finished horizontal fence front right

Work Smarter and Harder

The first time I recall hearing the phrase "Work smarter, not harder" was in a senior level marketing class in college. A local business owner had come in to talk about how he had become successful in his respective business in town. During his talk, he proclaimed that one of the main reasons for his success was a seemly simple revelation he had after his wife had observed him struggling thorough a business issue. As only a wife could do, she gently urged him to "Work smarter, honey, not harder". Naw Duh, so easy, right? Presto, after realizing that he just needed to work smarter, not harder, he could build a successful business. 

At the time, it sounded smart, even philosophical. Worketh smarter and not harder and ye shall be rewarded with riches and ease. Gosh, who wouldn't want that? After all, as a 22 year old near college graduate, I wanted to have fun! I didn't want to have to drudge away in hard work. According to this new revelation, smart people can just out-think hard work. I'm smart. Pshh. Count me in! I wrote it down, committed it to memory, and planned to apply it as needed in both life and work. 

Now, nearly 10 years after graduation, I can say one thing for certain: I was misguided. Bigly.

Like any of the best lies, "Work Smarter, Not Harder" contains partial truth. You want to work smart. It is wise for someone to work "smart". Anyone can see that mowing a lawn with a lawnmower is inherently smarter than mowing a lawn with a pair of scissors. So yes, work smart, for the love of God, work as smart as you can. But the saying continues. "Work Smarter Not...". The word "not" implies don't. Don't do this. Do not work harder. It implies that working hard comes at the expense of working smart. Why would anyone work hard when they can just work smart? 

Did you spot the lie? Working smart does not automatically cancel out any "hard" work. Smart work and hard work are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in many instances, they are the EXACT SAME THING.

For further clarification, let's look back to the lawn mowing analogy. Mowing the grass with a pair of scissors is definitely less smart and substantially harder than mowing with a lawn mower. No one will argue that. But you still have to work hard to mow the lawn with a lawn mower. Just ask someone who owns a lawn business or someone mowing in 100 degree weather. Hard work is not excluded from that equation. 

Another question to consider is this. Why has hard work gotten a bad rap? Why do people have an aversion to doing work that is seemingly difficult in nature? I am not sure I can answer that, but I can say one thing for sure. 

Hard work is GOOD. 

Like so good. And so important. You know this. You work hard on something, possibly strain to finish it, but when you do, what happens? You feel good. you feel accomplished. You get a boost of self confidence, a sense that you can overcome. It builds character, and better yet, helps you build a healthy view of yourself. It gives you dignity. And dignity, brother, is good.  

Just ask someone who has been out of a job for a period of time. You stop working, and everything else seems to get out of whack. Your energy level drops, your mood darkens, and your wits dull. Hard work is not only good, it is necessary for a healthy life 

So I beg of you, don't be fooled by some pithy saying. Try your damnedest to work "smart" and never, never stop working hard. 

Remember. "Work Smarter AND Harder"