How to install rails and plinths for a paling fence

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Project Overview

Building a wooden paling fence can give you privacy and security. The rails and plinths are important support structures, so you need to make sure you get them fitted right. This guide will show you how to cut and install the rails and plinths, and cut the posts so the rain runs-off.
Continue to step-by-step instructions
This D.I.Y. Advice is part of a series How to build a paling fence

Step by Step Instructions

1 Measure for the plinth
2 Cut the plinth
3 Install the plinth
4 Measure for the second plinth
5 Cut the second plinth
6 Install the second plinth
7 Measure for the height of the fence posts
8 Mark the fall on the posts
9 Cut the fall
10 Measure for the rails
11 Install the rails
12 Cut the rail
13 Finish installing the rails
  • Step 1. Measure for the plinth

    The plinth needs to be mounted in the centre of the post. To do this measure from the outside edge of one post to the inside edge of the furthest post your length of wood can reach. Mark this length on the plinth with a pencil and set square.

  • Step 2. Cut the plinth

    Secure the plinth to the saw horses with clamps. Put on the safety gear. Use the circular saw to cut the plinth to size.
  • Step 3. Install the plinth

    Place the plinth on the ground in front of the fence posts. Use the spirit level to check that it’s sitting level. Once the plinth is level, use the nail gun to secure to the post. Check the plinth is level before you nail it to each post. 

  • Step 4. Measure for the second plinth

    Measure the distance from the end of the first plinth to the wall. Transfer that distance onto the plinth.

  • Step 5. Cut the second plinth

    Secure the second plinth to the saw horses with clamps. Use the circular saw to cut it to size.

  • Step 6. Install the second plinth

    Lay the second plinth near the posts where it will be attached. Use the spirit level to make sure it’s level. Once it is, use the nail gun to secure it to the post. Check the plinth is level before you nail it to each post.

  • Step 7. Measure for the height of the fence posts

    Place a fence post on the plinth against the post. Mark its height on the post. Measure down from that mark and draw a line across with the set square. This will ensure that you don’t see the top of the post from the outside of the fence.

  • Step 8. Mark the fall on the posts

    A fall needs to be cut on the top of the fence posts so that rain runs off them. Use the set square and pencil to mark the height of the fence posts on the side of the post. Draw another line 40mm below it. Use the set square to run a diagonal line from the corner of the top line to the opposite corner. This is the fall line. 

  • Step 9. Cut the fall

    Use the circular saw and hand saw to cut the diagonal line on the post. Repeat steps 8 and 9 to cut the fall on all of the posts.

  • Step 10. Measure for the rails

    Mark with a set square where the top railing will go on the fence post. Draw another line 70mm below that, this is the width of the railing.  Mark with a set square where the bottom railing will go on the fence post. Draw another line 70mm up from that line. Determine the centre point between the top and bottom rails. This is where the middle rail will go. Repeat this process on all of the fence posts.

  • Step 11. Install the rails

    Get someone to help you slot the rails into the notches. Use the nail gun to nail the rail to the post. 

  • Step 12. Cut the rail

    To nail the next rail into a notch, you will need to cut the previous rail. Use the circular saw to cut at the point where it sits in the middle of the notch. This will give you the space for the next rail to be attached. 

  • Step 13. Finish installing the rails

    Repeat steps 12 and 13 to install all of the rails

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Chisels
  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Dust mask
  • Ear muffs
  • Hammer
  • Hammer
  • Jigsaw
  • Nail gun
  • Pencil
  • Protective gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Saw
  • Saw horses
  • Set square
  • Spirit level
  • Tape measure

Materials

  • Nails
  • Plinths
  • Rails
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