Step 4: Set the Post

Set the first fence post
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Pour 6 inches of drainage stone into the hole and tamp it with the post. Add or subtract stone to get your post height. Clamp two furring strips to adjacent sides to prop up the post in the hole, as shown. Tack a 1× scrap to the post's front face to stand in for the sleeve, and make sure it touches the mason line. Using a level on two adjacent sides, adjust the supports to make the post plumb. Add a few inches of drainage stone around the post. Pour dry concrete mix into the hole up to a few inches below grade. Add water until the mix is saturated, and stir it with a piece of scrap. Check for plumb, top off the hole with soil, and allow the post to stand undisturbed while the concrete cures.
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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.