An Old-Time Double-Post Pole Fence

With basic carpentry tools—and sometimes even wood from your own woodlot—you can make a double-post pole fence that is both decorative and functional.

| September/October 1980

  • 065 pole fence - corner posts
    When you reach a 90° corner, dig post holes at a 45° angle and leave an eight-inch space between the posts to accommodate horizontal poles coming from two different directions. "Cap" the posts to keep them from spreading apart.  
    BECKY JOHNSON
  • 065 pole fence - completed
    A completed double-post pole fence looks something like this.
    PHOTO: BECKY JOHNSON
  • 065 pole fence - paired posts
    Two rows of posts are set, each pair in a single three-foot-deep hole. Temporary barbed wire is in place to keep the livestock at home while the final fence construction is in progress.
    BECKY JOHNSON
  • 065 pole fence - fence pegs
    Pegs—aside from from adding an old-time look to your enclosure—will help to keep the crosspieces in place.
    BECKY JOHNSON
  • 065 pole fence - hinge post
    The gate swings on a special "hinge post," which is pointed like a pencil at both ends, and fits—at its base— into a dimple in a short stump buried in the ground adjacent to the last fencepost.
    BECKY JOHNSON
  • 065 pole fence - slide bolt
    A slide bolt will hold the gate closed and add a nice finishing touch to your totally natural fence.
    BECKY JOHNSON
  • 065 pole fence - author attaching pole
    The author demonstrates the proper technique for attaching the trimmed ends of horizontal poles to a pre-drilled single gatepost.    
    BECKY JOHNSON

  • 065 pole fence - corner posts
  • 065 pole fence - completed
  • 065 pole fence - paired posts
  • 065 pole fence - fence pegs
  • 065 pole fence - hinge post
  • 065 pole fence - slide bolt
  • 065 pole fence - author attaching pole

Fencing—whether it's used to encircle a pasture or add a decorative touch to a front yard—is always expensive. But with a little time and some basic carpentry skills, you can save money, keep your livestock at home, give your youngsters something to climb on, and preserve an ancestral craft ... by building a double-post pole fence! The attractive enclosures require only natural materials (if you're lucky, you can get all you need from your own woodlot) and will last for years with proper maintenance!

To assemble your traditional structure, you'll be placing two uprights—of different sizes—at each point where a fence post is needed. Both will be 8' long, but the outside post should be about 7" in diameter, while the inner one should be about 5" thick.

Since all the posts will be set into three-foot-deep holes, it's important to treat their lower ends with a preservative solution to prevent rotting. One method is to mix one part pentachlorophenol to ten parts diesel fuel, and then stand eight or nine posts in a 55-gallon drum containing about 25 gallons of the preservative mixture. (It's best to remove the bark from the to-be-treated ends of the posts with a drawknife. The entire upright can be shaved, of course, but such extra labor isn't really necessary.)

The soaking should continue for at least two days. Once the treatment's finished, place each pair of posts in a single hole (I use oblong pits—measuring approximately 8" X 18"—spaced at intervals of ten feet). Each pair should stand five feet high and be about five inches apart at their bases. Now fill in the holes with soil, and tamp it with an iron bar or sledge hammer to ensure that the earth holds the uprights securely in place.



At each 90° corner, you'll need to dig the post holes at a 45° angle to the rest of the fence, and—instead of leaving a five-inch space—allow about eight inches between the posts ... to accommodate horizontal poles coming from two different directions. (When you have to allow for a gentle fenceline bend, try to set the posts so that they bisect the angle of the turn ... and be sure that you leave a little extra room between the pair of wooden uprights.)

The Poles

The horizontal poles for a double-post fence should be about 12' long and 5" in diameter at their larger ends. (Again, if you prefer, all the bark can be removed with a drawknife.) When you place the crosspieces between the posts—each layer resting on tips of the one beneath it—the poles should be alternated so that all the slender ends don't wind up between one pair of posts, with all the heavy ends at the other.






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