Modern fence, pt. 3: Cover the edges and you’re done!

In this last stage of my DIY fence, I wanted to cover the screwed-down edges of the corrugated panels. You could leave them showing, but that’s too industrial looking even for me. We wanted the steel panels to be surrounded by clean wood edges on all sides.

My brainstorm here was to leave the panels a bit short at the top and bottom, and then rabbet the back of two more 2x4s to fit over those bumpy panel edges. I had to use the tablesaw for that task, so if you don’t have one you can ask a friend. Or just design the fence to work around it. One way to do that would be to attach the 2×4 rails and just screw the steel panels to the back of them. Let your neighbors look at the screws, or those lazy buggers can build their own fence!

As for me, I like the doubled-up 2x4s at top and bottom. It makes the fence stiffer and stronger.

The tablesaw cuts are pretty deep, so you definitely need a push stick or two to keep your hands safe, but the boards tend to guide themselves through the cut, believe it or not. If you have a riving knife on your saw (by splitter wouldn’t work for this) then definitely use it for some added peace of mind.

After the from boards are notched, you just cut them to length and attach them with long deck screws. That’s it! You still need to build some gates, but those can be as easy or hard as you like. Check the final photo for the easiest approach to gate-making: the Adjust-A-Gate kit available at all home centers.

And in a future post I’ll show how to make a super-custom gate in a Japanese style.

But let’s finish up that fence:

what-the-top-of-the-fence-looks-like-before-it-is-covered
This is where we left off. I intentionally left the panels short at top and bottom for the next step.
the-first-tablesaw-cut-is-shallow
To notch the back of the trim rails, which are just more 2x4s, I first made a 1/2-in.-deep cut at the centerpoint, more or less. Measure your panel overlap to figure this out.
the-second-cut-is-a-tall-one
This tall cut completes the 1/2-in. deep rabbet that fits over the edges of the steel panels.
finish-each-tablesaw-cut-with-a-push-stick
Definitely use a push stick at the end of the cut to keep your hands away from the blade.
the-trim-boards-are-rabbeted-to-fit-over-the-corrugated-panels
The idea is that the notch is just big enough to fit over the panels while letting this 2×4 rail end up flush with the one behind it. The next step is remeasuring the distance between your fence posts and cutting these rails to fit between them.
attaching-the-bottom-trim-board-to-the-fence
The bottom rail went on first. I drilled clearance holes in it for long deck screws, which went into the fat part of the board (not the notched part), and I felt underneath when attaching it to be sure the bottom edge of this rail was even with the one behind it.
attach-the-top-trim-board-to-the-fence
When attaching the top rail, again with long deck screws, this time I reached up top to be sure those edges of the two rails were even with each other.
beauty
Last of all, I used my reciprocating saw and a long blade to cut the tops of the posts even with the top rails, completing the clean look.
backgate
For my back gate I used the awesomely easy Adjust-A-Gate hardware from my local home center. This is the lightweight consumer version, but there is also a heavier contractor version for heavier gates. The hardware expands and contracts to fit a wide range of openings. You just attach a couple 2×4 pieces to it, and then your fence boards (or metal panels!) to those. The wire and turnbuckle keep the gate from sagging, and the kit comes with the hinges and latch too! I added a string so we could open the gate from the inside.

 

 

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