This decorative picket fence is a real charmer.

June 08, 2015

You'll need intermediate woodworking skills and a few power tools -- as well as plenty of time -- to comlete this fence. Each picket includes several intricate cuts. Preassemble as many components as you can in your basement, garage, or workshop. Then, move outside, set the posts and fasten everything together.


  • Jigsaw or scroll saw
  • Circular, table, or radial-arm saw
  • Router
  • Drill
  • 60- and 100-grit sandpaper
  • Framing square
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Posthole digger

What You Need:

For one fence section 6 feet 7-1/2 inches long, including posts, you'll need:

Note: Letters refer to diagram on the following page.

  • 2 6x6x56-inch cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated posts. (Add the depth of the frost line in your region to the length if you'll be setting the posts in concrete.) (A)
  • 2x8 rot-resistant lumber (one 15-inch length for post caps (B)
  • 2 decorative finials (C)
  • 2x4 rot-resistant lumber (one 8-foot length for end boards (D))
  • 2x3-inch rot-resistant lumber (two 8-foot lengths for rails (E))
  • 1x4 rot-resistant lumber (three 8-foot lengths for spacers (F))
  • 1x8 rot-resistant lumber (four 10-foot lengths for pickets (G))
  • Scrap of 1/4-inch plywood (for quail template)
  • Water-resistant adhesive
  • Zinc-plated screws
  • Galvanized nails
  • Premixed concrete

1. Choose your wood. For lumber that will stand up to the elements, use only cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated pine. The posts should be rated for ground contact.

2. Fashion the posts. For the posts, use a router to chamfer each post corner. For the cap, route 7-1/2-inch square by 1-1/2-inch stock (B) with a cove bit. Round-over the cap edges and corners. Attach a cap to each post with water-resistant adhesive and galvanized nails. Finally, drill a pilot hole in the center of each cap and screw in a finial.

3. Assemble frame. For the frame and fencing, round-over the ends and edges of two 2x4 end boards (D). Cut two 2x3 rails (E) 65-1/2 inches long. Attach the end boards to the rails by drilling pilot holes and driving zinc-plated screws through the end boards into the ends of the rails. Make sure the rails are square with the end boards.


4. Cut the pickets. For the five spacers (F), cut 1x4s to length and round the top edges. Cut eight 60-inch-long pickets (G). Enlarge the pattern and transfer it to a piece of 1/4-inch plywood. Cut out the plywood quail, then use it as a template for shaping the tops of the pickets. Use a scroll saw or jigsaw to cut quails in the picket tops. Nail the pickets and spacers to the rails, spacing them 1 inch apart.

5. Final assembly. Set and plumb the posts. Install the preassembled fencing unit by driving screws through the end boards (D) into the posts.


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