Fence Made From Rebar and Douglas Fir Wood

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Introduction: Fence Made From Rebar and Douglas Fir Wood

About: I like building things mainly from wood or metal. Especially if they look complicated to make, then I like to think about how to make it. And I love it when the result looks good.

Last year I promised to someone that I would make a fence for her backyard. But then first the shops were closed during lock down and when the shops reopened the roads around her house were closed for construction works. I decided that I would make the fence now during summer as the weather allows me to work outside in the sun and right now I have time as it is the holiday period. Therefore I will temporary install the fence in my own backyard and move it to her backyard probably in autumn when the construction works around her house will be ready. This gives me some time to enjoy the fence myself. I made some photos of the fence during the day but also close to sunset. At that time it gives a nice pattern of shade on the deck.

Supplies

I made 4 posts and 2 fence sections in this Instructable.

The materials for each post are:
- 1 piece of Douglas fir wood of 9x9 cm and 92 cm long as main part of the post.
- 1 piece of Douglas fir wood of 13x13 cm and 2.5 cm thick as cap.
- 1 piece of Douglas fir wood of 22x22 cm and 2.5 cm thick as base.
- 2 dowels of 6x30 mm to connect the cap to the post.
- 2 screws of 100 mm long and 5 mm thick to connect the base to the post.
- 2 pieces of rebar of 18 or 26 cm long and 16 mm thick to connect the fence sections to the post.
- Wood glue to also glue the cap and base to the post.
- Black varnish for the wood.
- Black paint for the rebar.

Step 1: Collecting the Wood

I collected all the wood that I needed and placed it on the deck. I bought the wood as longer pieces so I still had to cut all pieces to the right length.

On the photo you can also see a dolphin. I made that one last year and also wrote an Instructable about how I made it. You can check my previous Instructables to see it in more detail. The support of the dolphin is made of exactly the same rebar as what I am using for the fence. The paint on the rebar of the dolphin is also the same paint that I used for the pickets. The rebar under the dolphin has no signs of rust yet while it has been outside for more than one year already so I am confident that the rebar in the fence will not rust very soon.

Step 2: Cut the Wood for the Rails to the Desired Size

I made the rails 182 cm long. That size is based on the size of the backyard where the fence will go.

The vertical side of the fence I made 70 cm. I chose that length because the rebar is 75 cm long so I have 2.5 cm at each side of the rebar for it to go into the holes which I will drill in the rails.

Step 3: Cut the Wood for the Posts to the Desired Size

I cut the main part of the post to a length of 92 cm because I want the posts to be higher than the fence sections. The fence sections are 70 cm + 2x7 cm for the rails, so 84 cm high.

The cap is 13x13 cm. I wanted the caps to be wider than the posts and the posts are 9x9 cm. Since I had a piece of wood of 26 cm wide, I chose for 13 cm as that made it easy to cut the wood in half to get the desired size.

For the base I chose 22x22 cm so I would have enough space to drill holes to connect the base to the deck.

Step 4: Overview of the Wooden Parts

Here is an overview of the pieces of wood that I cut. On one photo I placed the pieces roughly on the place where each of them would end up. On the other photo I placed the pieces in groups of the same size.

Step 5: Painting the Wood

I used a transparent varnish for the fence sections and a black varnish for the parts of the posts. I did not paint the areas of the posts where I will use wood glue during assembly.

I gave the parts two coats of varnish with 24 hours between coats.

When I would do this project again, I would first drill the holes and paint the wood after that.

Step 6: Collect the Metal Parts and Paint Them

I bought the rebar already cut to the right size of 75 cm. This rebar is not for sale in a regular shop but a construction company was willing to sell this rebar to me.

I painted all metal parts with a paint especially made for painting metal.

Actually I painted these pieces some weeks ago and gave them two coats of paint. Since the paint already had several weeks to dry it had fully cured and hardened before I installed the metal parts of the fence.

Step 7: Cut and Grind Rebar to Make Connecting Pins

I only decided about how I would connect the fence sections to the posts at this stage of the project. I had some extra rebar so I decided to cut some shorter pieces and make pins that will go through the posts into the fence sections.

I used an angle grinder to cut 4 pieces of 18 cm and 2 pieces of 26 cm. The two longest ones are for the post in the middle as that one has two fence sections connected to it.

An angle grinder leaves a sharp edge so I used a flap disk on a grinder to round off the sharp edges.

Step 8: Paint Them

I used the same paint for metal to paint the short pieces of rebar that I had just cut. These pieces did not have several weeks to dry so the paint got slightly damaged when I installed the pins. My advice is therefore to allow the paint two weeks to fully harden before using the pins.

Step 9: Check How It Will Look

I placed the rebar pickets on top of the wooden frame to see if I liked the way it looked.

On this photo it is also visible that the rebar is long enough to go into the holes which I will drill in the wood.

Step 10: Measure and Mark the Locations for the Holes

My rails are 182 cm long but at each side 7 cm will be needed to screw the vertical part onto. So I have 182 - 14 cm = 168 cm where I have to drill the holes for the rebar. I decide to use 8 cm between each centre of the rebar and 4 cm at each side. So when I started measuring from the inside of the vertical part, I marked the holes at 4 - 12 - 20 - 28 - 36 - 44 - 52 cm and continuing with 8 cm between the marks.
I also marked where the middle was, so at 3.5 cm from each side as this wood is 7 cm wide.

Step 11: Drill the Holes for the Rebar

Since my rebar is 75 cm long and the inner height of the fence is only 70 cm, I had to drill holes that where 2.5 cm deep.
I marked the drill bits with masking tape slightly above 2.5 cm so the rebar would for sure fit in the holes.
I first drilled a small hole and after that a larger hole of 18 mm. My rebar has a core width of 16 mm but the outer diameter is 18 mm.
While I was pauzing the drilling to take a photo our chicken passed by to see what I was doing.

Step 12: Assemble the Posts: Base Plate

I continued with the posts and mounted the base plate. I used screws and wood glue since this has to be a strong connection. I predrilled the holes for the screws in the base plate and also drilled 4 holes of 10 mm for the bolts to be able to bolt the posts to the deck.

Step 13: Assemble the Posts: Top Cap

For the top cap I did not use screws but I used dowels instead as they will not be visible when looking on top of the cap.

I have some pins the size of a dowel and they help to mark where the hole for the dowel has to be.

Since I did not have long clamps I just placed the posts upside down after gluing so the weight of the post would give some pressure on the glue. It was not the amount of pressure I would have liked to have on this glue, but since the cap is only present to protect the end grain of the post from the rain and for decoration, it does not have to be very strong.

Step 14: Drill a Pilot Hole for the Connecting Pins and Keep Track of the Right Location

In a previous step I showed the short pieces of rebar that I made as connecting pins between the fence sections and the posts. Now I placed the vertical beam of the frame of the fence against the post and used a clamp to hold it in the right spot. I put a short cut-off piece of wood under the vertical beam to simulate the horizontal rail and under that I placed another piece of wood to simulate the free area under the fence section.

Then I used a very long drill bit to drill a pilot hole all the way through both the vertical beam and the post. As the long drill bit is a bit flexible, it was hard to keep it fully perpendicular to the wood during drilling and it did not end up completely straight. Fortunately that does not really matter, because although my pins are not going through the wood perfectly perpendicular, they do make sure that the vertical beam is exactly where I wanted it to be.

I marked which beam was connected to which side of which posts when I drilled all the way through and made sure during the assembly of the fence that each section was connected to the right post.

Without such a long drill bit it would be harder to drill a hole to get everything aligned, but with careful measuring and drilling straight it should be possible. Using a drill press can also be a solution.

Step 15: Make the Holes the Right Size for the Connecting Pins

After drilling the small pilot holes I used the large drill bit to get the holes large enough for the pins. It should be a good fit so the pins can slide in without too much effort but when they are in place they should not have much play. So they should only be able to slide in one direction and not be able to wiggle a lot.

I would advise to drill one hole in a leftover piece first to check this. It is better to use a slightly too small drill bit and then enlarge the hole with a file instead of using a too large drill bit.

Step 16: Place the Pickets in the Holes of the Rails

Now it is time to assemble the fence sections. At least that is what I thought when I built the fence, but looking back it would have been better to do the next step first. So first drill the holes for the screws and place the pickets after that.

I placed one of the rails on the deck and put a piece of wood under the pickets so they lign up with the holes. Getting the pickets to go into the holes of the other rail was a two man job. It worked best to start at one side guiding the first picket into its hole and then move on to the next. It took some persuasion from a rubber mallet but after a few minutes all of the pickets where in place.

Step 17: Drill Holes, Make Sure the Fence Is Square and Screw the Parts Together

Like I wrote at the previous step, it would have been better to drill the holes for the screws before placing the pickets. That is also what I did for the second fence section. But for the first fence section I drilled the holes for the screws while the fence was laying flat on the deck so there was no convenient space for my drill while drilling the lowest hole.

A second mistake was to use the long drill bit. A regular drill bit was just long enough and not that flexible. It is best to drill this hole slightly larger that the outer diameter of the threads on the screw so the screw will be able to pull the rail firmly to the vertical beam. (With a smaller hole for the screw in the rail you will get a gap between the rail and the beam as the screw would then not be able to pull at the rail, because the rail cannot slide over the screw. )

I made sure the fence was square before inserting the screws.

Step 18: Assemble the Second One

With the second fence section I knew what worked best, so I first drilled the holes for the screws and then placed the pickets so this section was easier to assemble.

Step 19: Screw on the Black Angles

Then I screwed the black angles in place. I did not have to drill any holes for these small screws.

The purpose of the black angles is mainly for decoration, but I think they also help to keep the fence square.

Step 20: Bolt the Post to the Deck

I used M8 nuts and bolts to bolt the post to the deck. I did not have to drill any holes in the deck as the bolts fit through the gaps in the deck. I had that in mind when I drilled the holes for the bolts in the base of the post, because the fence will be relocated to the backyard of the lady for whom I made the fence and I do not want to have holes in my deck after the fence will be gone.

Step 21: Complete the Fence

When the first post was in place and the pins were in the holes, we carried the first section of the fence to it's position, placed it on some pieces of wood to get the pin aligned with the hole and then we slid the fence section sideways to the post. That was very easy to do, so we immediately placed the second post, slid the pins into that one, bolted the post to the deck and in just a few minutes the first section of the fence was ready.

After that we placed the second section in the same way.

Step 22: Finishing Touch

As a finishing touch I mixed some sawdust with wood glue and filled the area above the screws with this mixture. It is an easy way to hide the screws and maybe it also helps to prevent corrosion of the screws.

Another finishing touch which I am still considering, is to seal the gaps between the pickets and the wood of the bottom rails. Now water enters into this gap when it rains so the wood gets wet inside. However, when it stops raining the water can also easily evaporate from this gap.

If I seal the gap and water still finds a way to enter somewhere, it cannot evaporate easily. Also Douglas fir wood is supposed to be quite weather resistant even without any coating, so I wonder if it would be needed to seal the gap.

Step 23: What About the 4th Post?

I made 4 posts while I needed only 3 of them for the fence. The 4th one is meant for the gate which I already made last year. I did document all steps of the construction of the gate, so maybe I will make a separate Instructable about that.

The gate is already at the house of the lady for whom I made the fence, but she does not live close to my house, so I cannot yet make a photo of the fence including the gate. After the construction works around her house will have finished I will move the fence to her house and install it including the gate at her backyard.

The dog on the gate looks a lot like the dog she owns so that is why the dog is pictured on the gate.

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36 Comments

0
kwhit190211
kwhit190211

5 weeks ago

You did a good job. But, I went one better. The trouble with rebar is that it rusts. I encased mine in 1/2" PVC which I roughed the outside with sandcloth so that the black paint will stick to it. It's been around the pool now for 5 years and still going strong. And, I still haven't touched up the paint nor has the PVC cracked because of the weather. I got a great deal on it at Home Depot, They were cleaning out the bent rebar rack and I was there at the right time to get a huge bundle of it at 70% off plus 10% Military discount. And, one thing about rebar it's easy to straighten out. It's air cooled. Also, I got at the same time was one of their railings that had blackened aluminum tubes inside of the wooden treated lumber frame at 70%, too.

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hvikse
hvikse

Reply 18 days ago

in my opinion rebar is the superior choice over pvc. yes, pvc dont rust - but you loose the nice structure of the rebar - and the feel.

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doing2much
doing2much

4 weeks ago

I love the texture of the rebar even though as some have pointed out, it could rust. But again, generally, anything that is coated with a good sealing paint should last quite a long time, as long as the paint is maintained and redone from time to time. How many of us have wrought iron bistro sets in our yards? Those are 100% 'rust assured' - unless painted!

0
mbeique2
mbeique2

Question 6 weeks ago

I Love the fence and appreciate the attention to detail. I'm wondering how much you charged for the fence as it looks like you put a lot of time and effort into it. I'm starting to sell some of my wood creations and am having difficulty with how much to charge people.

0
Liebregts
Liebregts

Answer 6 weeks ago

Actually I am not charging anything for my time. The lady for whom I made the fence does not have a lot of money, so she will pay for the materials only. I made the fence for her so she can have something nice to enjoy.
I make enough money with my day job so when I make something for someone else I do not charge them anything. Also I do not like sales, I do not really have commercial skills and this way I am avoiding any sales activities. And it gives a good feeling just to help someone.

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doing2much
doing2much

Reply 4 weeks ago

Your selfless mentality is admirable! May the wind be always at your back!!

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garfieldgurl
garfieldgurl

6 weeks ago

Beautiful design! All your hard work paid off! Thank you for sharing!

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LeslieGeee
LeslieGeee

6 weeks ago

The design of your fence is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your design and build. I was thinking since someone else brought up the flat caps on the posts that here in the US we can get copper or metal pyramid shaped tops for fence caps. I am putting a link in this post and hopefully you will be able to see what I mean. The picture at the top, 3rd from your left, the rounded pyramid would look good on the posts but in black which you can paint. :)
metal pyramid shaped fence caps

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Liebregts
Liebregts

Reply 6 weeks ago

Thank you.

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LeslieGeee
LeslieGeee

Reply 6 weeks ago

Most welcome :)

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Epimethius
Epimethius

6 weeks ago on Step 12

The fence is beautiful and well done. Building codes in the US are very stringent about post and railings for decks, your railings are strong enough and the 185cm (6ft) spacing for posts is just right. Here, the post-to-deck connection would not be strong enough and another method (there are many) must be used. You could still get a very similar appearance for the posts.

0
calpos
calpos

6 weeks ago

Great job! I did a similar install on one of our homes, replacing some cheap wood lattice work. Instead of rebar I used galvanized metal conduit (EMT). You can "cut" it with a pipe tubing cutter, and it doesn't rust. Plus, if you want to paint it, all you need to do is soak it in a large tub - think a child's plastic swimming pool - in some white vinegar. That will help strip off the oil and etch the surface of the zinc. Spray paint it as needed. MUCH lighter than rebar, and smoother.

0
Liebregts
Liebregts

Reply 6 weeks ago

That etching with vinegar is interesting. I almost never use galvanized steel because it is hard to get a good paint job on it. Also I like welding but zinc gives nasty and poisonous fumes and removing the zinc is not that easy so therefore I usually work with steel.
Here for the fence I like the pattern on the surface of the rebar better than a smooth finish, but I can imagine that other people prefer a smooth finish.

0
calpos
calpos

Reply 6 weeks ago

Oh, and I agree with the earlier poster about a drainage hole at the bottom. I highly recommend one!

0
catfan63
catfan63

6 weeks ago

Really neat look and idea with the rebar. You may want to revisit the caps on the posts... I'm afraid they will also hold water if not angled/chamfered and lead to rot. You could make them out of a solid cap and make 45 degree cuts on each side (or even 22.5 degree if you want something a little less steep.
Thanks for the inspiration!

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Liebregts
Liebregts

Reply 6 weeks ago

It could indeed lead to rot. But the top rails are also flat at the top and might have the same issue. However Douglas fir wood is supposed to be a good quality wood so hopefully it will last. Anyway I will consider replacing the caps with angled ones.

0
catfan63
catfan63

Reply 6 weeks ago

Not to sound negative but just about any wood, especially soft wood, is going to not fare well if water is allowed to invade. I thought about the rail tops after posting. You could also cut a slope/chamfer on those either from the middle or angling to the front or back. Sorry if this is hard to 'see in your mind' - I would give an visual example if I had the skills in Sketchup or other apps. You may also consider using wood plugs and waterproof glue to cover the screw holes. Thanks for your contribution!!

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Liebregts
Liebregts

Reply 6 weeks ago

Thanks. I can see in my mind what you mean.

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chefspenser
chefspenser

6 weeks ago

Very handsome! Beautiful setting-where do you live...looks like the Everglades.

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Liebregts
Liebregts

Reply 6 weeks ago

Thank you.
It is in The Netherlands.