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Setting a Wood Fence Post

By Edited Feb 29, 2016 0 0

The fence at my new house has had problems with the posts rotting just under ground level and snapping off.  This article will tell you how to set a new post.  (To replace a post, you'll first have to remove the old cement plug as described here.)


Tools

  • Post-hole diggers (optional, but sure makes it easier)
  • Level
  • Shovel to replace dirt

Materials

  • New post
  • 50# bag of cement for posts
  • a piece of poster board

 

Some gloves might come in handy too.  I really like the ones with the stretchy mesh/spandex on the back with leather palms like this Dewalt pair, but this can be a muddy job, so you might want to use an older or cheaper pair.

I used Quikrete 50 lb. Fast-Setting Concrete Mix, which as of this writing is available in a red bag at Lowe's and Home Depot.  This product is made for setting posts, you pour into the hole dry then add the water on top.

For the new post, I used landscape timbers.  Internet searching showed that people are mixed on if they are suitable or if you should use posts specially made for fences.  The landscape timbers were all I could locate, so that decision was made for me.  The 50# bag of Quikrete was about $5, and the landscape timber was $3.  

My level is a fiberglass model like this Stanley ABS Level.   It is light and easy to work with.  It seems like the longer the level the more confidence I have in it - I'm not sure that's true but it sure feels that way, so I always use the longest one I can fit into my workspace.  This level is 48".


postdiagram


You'll probably be placing this post in the same hole the old one came out of.  If you removed the old plug using the method on the other page, the plug will have left a hole similar to this figure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How-to

 

1. Measure out the water and open the bag of Quikcrete.  I have found that one 50# bag is almost exactly right for one post.

dryfit

2. Remove material from the bottom of the hole until the post sets far enough into the ground.  Use the post hole diggers for this if you have them.  I let the height of the neighboring posts determine the depth of the hole.  I just eyeballed it by putting the post in the hole and checking against the rest of the fence.   It seems some people add gravel to the bottom of the hole, but I do not.  The bottom of the hole is not where my rotting problem is.

3.  Put the post into the middle of the hole, and pour in some of the dry concrete mix.  I pour it almost, but not quite, to the level where the hole starts to spread out.


4. Level the post.  I use a 4' level on the front and side of the post, leveling both ways.  You'll continue to do this as you work, and you will be able to make slight adjustments to the pole's alignment along the way.  Make sure that the flat part of the post is aligned to the direction of the fence, and not rotated in the hole.  I think eyeballing is good enough for that.

 

level2
level1
postrotate


5. Add a little bit of the measured water and let it soak in some.  

 

Posterboard
6. This is where the poster board comes in.  You'll use it to control the diameter of the plug and save some of the concrete mix.  Put the poster board around the post and down into the hole.  Fasten it to itself with tape - trust me on this.

7.  Pour in the concrete mix.  When you get about halfway up, you might want to fill in some dirt around the poster board.

8.  Continue filling the poster board until the mix is just above ground level.  I want to have concrete sticking up just above the ground to prevent the rotting that the other posts have.  This might be a good time to check the level and alignment again.


9.  Pour the rest of the water in the top of the poster board.  If it isn't clear by now, the poster board is staying in the ground.


postdone
10.  Fill in the hole with the rest of the dirt.  If everything goes right, you will be left with something like this.  Follow the directions on the Quikrete for drying, I think it is supposed to set a minimum of 24 hours before you re-attach the fence.
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