Cross-Rail Thoroughbred

This white-painted fence features a repeating crisscross pattern that makes us think of a horse farm (see photo 1). It's also relatively easy to build. The major components are pressure-treated 4x4 posts, 1x6 rails and 1x4 trim boards. Each section is 8 feet long, but you can reduce its overall scale by using narrower lumber and shorter posts spaced closer together.

Construction. Space the postholes 8 feet on center, then set the posts in the holes and backfill around them. Be sure the posts are perfectly plumb before compacting soil around each one with a spare 2x4.

Next, secure the horizontal 1x6 rails to the posts with 8d galvanized common nails. Keep the bottom rail at least 2 to 3 inches above the ground. Leave a 2 3/4-inch space, then attach the second rail from the bottom. Nail the upper rail 4 inches down from the tops of the posts. When nailing near the ends of the rails, bore pilot holes to prevent the boards from splitting.

Miter-cut the ends of the 1x6 cross rails so they span from the center of one post to the center of the next. They should fit snugly between the upper and second rails. Bore pilot holes in the rails, then nail them to the posts.

Cut 40-inch-long 1x4 trim boards and nail one to each post directly over the joints where the rails meet. You can also use galvanized deck screws instead of nails so the trim boards can be easily removed for repair or repainting.

Protect the top of each post with a preformed metal cap to block out water and reduce the chance of cracking. The caps are available at home centers and lumberyards.

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