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5 Essential Tools for Building a Fence

drillRolling up your sleeves and completing your own fence installation can feel gratifying. With the proper fence materials, Salem homeowners can get the job done right the first time and admire their fence for years to come. The following are five must-have tools for assembling your cedar fence materials.

1. Posthole Digger

Postholes are like the foundation of your fence installation. Therefore, a posthole digger is the ultimate tool for placing your cedar fence materials properly and making your fence installation much easier and faster.

When you dig a posthole, it should allow the posts for your cedar fence materials to rest six inches below the frost line. The easiest posthole digger to use is an auger powered by a built-in engine or tractor, which can create holes that are 8 inches wide and 36 inches deep. If you do not own an auger, you can usually rent one from a hardware store.

When you use an auger, rocks can damage the shear pin or stop an auger from rotating. Therefore, it is a good idea to have manual posthole digging tools to supplement this tool. A manual posthole digger looks like two small opposing shovels connected by a fulcrum. Alternatively, you can use a long shovel and a pry bar.

2. Post Level

A post level makes the difference between an amateur-looking fence installation and cedar fence materials that look like they were assembled by a pro. While a plumb fence does not necessarily last longer, it looks better and can increase the value of your home (instead of decrease it). As you install each board and post of your cedar fence materials, hold the level vertically against each piece of wood, or strap it on with a couple of rubber bands, to make sure it is straight. If it is not straight, adjust the post’s position while filling the hole with soil. Use a sledgehammer to tamp down the soil around the posts after every few inches of dirt you add so the post remains straight.

3. Tape Measure

Unless you have a bionic eye, a tape measure is another essential fence installation tool because it will help you set your fence posts and boards an equal distance apart from each other. Space your fence posts six to eight feet apart, depending on the terrain and the type of fence you want to build. A stake can help you mark where you want to set each post in the ground. Space the board and rails according to your privacy preferences and fence design.

4. Cordless Drill

Trade your hammer and nails for a cordless drill and deck screws. Deck screws hold your cedar fence materials together better and have the added benefit that they are exponentially easier to remove than hammer-driven nails. A cordless drill generally has up to six hours of battery life between charges, and using two or three charged drill batteries will allow you to work throughout the day non-stop. However, you must remember to charge the batteries each night.

5. Fence Installation Design Plan

While a design plan is not a manual tool, it is one of your most important resources when it comes to building a fence. Planning ahead can save you money and help you figure out exactly what you want to do. Your design should include a drawing of your property, a list of zoning laws you need to remember, details about the fence dimensions and a list of cedar fence materials you need to purchase.

In addition to planning for the proper amount of cedar fence materials, Salem homeowners also need to take into account existing trees and plants that can affect a fence design, both immediately and in the future. On the drawing of your property, include all of the relevant dimensions as well as an outline of your property line, and indicate where you plan to build your fence. Your fence installation plan can prevent you from making costly errors.

[ photo by: Samuel M. Livingston ]

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