Step 1: Position the Line

Plotting out the fence and positioning the line
Photo: Kolin Smith
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To square the fence line to the house, you'll mark off a right triangle extending from the foundation. Sink one stake for the triangle's corner where the first post will go, and a second one 3 feet away along the foundation. Tie a mason line to the first stake, stretch it taut roughly perpendicular to the house, and mark it 4 feet from the stake. Find the 5-foot mark on a measuring tape and angle it from the second stake toward the line. Now cross the taut line and the tape until you get the 4-foot and 5-foot marks to meet. When they do, according to the Pythagorean theorem, you have a 90-degree angle at the triangle's corner—and thus a perpendicular line intersecting the house. A bigger triangle (say 9, 12, and 15 feet) works even better.
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    Tools List

    • nylon mason's line and stakes
      Mason line and stakes
    • post hole digger
      Posthole digger
    • hand clamps
      Clamps
    • four-foot level
      4-foot level
    • miter saw
      Miter saw
    • pneumatic brad nailer
      Pneumatic brad nail gun
    • circular saw
      Circular saw (fitted with a rip fence)
    • drill
      Drill/driver (fitted with -inch paddle bit)

    Shopping List

    1. 4×4 pressure-treated posts
    Get them long enough to go below the frost line; at least one-third of each post must be buried.

    2. Cedar 1×6 lumber
    To be ripped to make the post sleeves, stops, and cap rail.

    3. Cedar square lattice
    Get 4-by-8 sheets that can be cut into two panels each.

    4. Self-adhesive flashing to protect the portion of the post set in concrete.

    5. ¾-inch drainage stone

    6. Concrete
    Choose a fast-setting mix.

    7. 1¼-inch exterior grade brad nails

    8. 1-inch trim-head stainless-steel deck screws

    9. 3-inch stainless-steel deck screws

    10. Polyurethane glue

    11. Polyurethane construction adhesive

    12. Painter's tape

    13. Post caps
    Get 5¼-inch post caps to fit over the sleeved 4×4 posts.