Introduction: Shou Sugi Ban, Segmented, Slat Fencing
Warning, this instructable is not for the faint of heart!!
This is not a quick tutorial on how to throw up fencing. The technique I used (Shou Sugi Ban) is very time consuming. But with some patience the final product is an absoultly beautiful way to treat wood.
To sum up this project, Its a burnt fence................simple,right?
My family and I have been at our new place for a little of a year. Our house is located on a busy rural road, and a large section of that road runs parallel to our yard. I wanted a fence, to run along the road, create a visual boarder, and separate our home from the edge of the road. I also didn't want to feel boxed in, so I had an idea of a segmented fence. The fence sections are 14ft long. and separated by 6ft gaps. In the middle of the gaps, are pine trees that I planted a year ago. (yes I know, two of them are dead, but will be replaced this fall)
I wanted to implement a modern look, but make it feel slightly rustic as well. Around the time I started this fence, I found out about Shou Sugi Ban. Immediately I knew I wanted to apply this technique to my fence. Lastly I was on a tight budget, but didn't want to skimp on the look, so I spent a little extra time dressing it up (encasing the pressure treated).
Step 1: Shou Sugi Ban
If you are not keen on this look, skip this step,and just throw some stain or paint on your fence. However, if you want your fence to stand up to the ages, if your looking for something unique, and something that is elegantly beautiful, this is well worth your blood sweat and tears! (photos don't do it justice, try it on some scrape wood to see it's beauty)
Shou Sugi Ban (burnt cedar wood), is an ancient Japanese technique for treating wood. There's plenty of information on the web (and here in Instructibles) about this ancient process, there is also diffrent techniques and opinions on it, so go ahead and read up. The whole process can be sumed up easily, burn wood, brush down charred wood, rinse off with water (to clean up all the soot), and apply oil.
I first learned about Shou Sugi Ban while watching a channel on Youtube called NorthMen Guild. [Play Video]
My steps where as follows
I used a propane tourch, and burned my boards one at a time till I got a deep char. If the edges or knots caught a constant flame, I would let them burn for a while longer, that way my boards would have more of a weathered look. I burned all six sides of the lumber.
I used two diffrent types of brushes to scrape down my boards. First I used a stiff bristle brush, using a few soft long passes, just to break up the big pieces of char. Next I used a brush with soft bristles (it was actualy a grill brush, from my BBQ), and applied a decent amount of pressure. At this stage you can really alter the look of your wood. You can leave some, if not all of the char, apply light pressure to produce a dark color, or apply hard pressure and leave a light brown colour.
After brushing, you'll want to rinse off your planks with a garden hose to clean off all the soot. For some of my boards I applied some paint while the boards were still wet. I used some blue paint, and applied it with a rag, much like you would stain. I applied this colour as an experiment and loved the look of it.
Apply any natural oil product. I have also seen people apply a polyurethane over there boards to protect a char finish. I applied boiled linseed oil to my boards, at first, but It was a little on the expansive side. After going through two containers, I switched to vegitible oil. The vegitible oil gave me simiular results, but I think in the future, for smaller projects i'll go with just boiled linseed oil.
5) Heat up oil
After applying oil, I would go back and lightly torch everything. This would eliminate any extra oil, that wasn't absorbed into the poars of the wood, preventing the boards from remaining greasy.
Please note: I put this step first, for the people out there interested in Shou Sugi Ban. You'll want to cut your boards first, than burn them. So hold off on this step for now.
Step 2: Layout Posts
Last fall I planted pine trees every 20ft. I wanted a segmented fence to fill in the 20ft gaps, but to be open in front of the pine trees, that way the pines will grow and fill in the gaps of the fence.
First you will want to run a string from point A to point B. This will create a straight line for you to layout your posts. I also created two diffrent story poles (is it still a story pole if it's flat on the ground? ), to lay on the ground, centered between my trees. This will show you where to dig. One story pole was 14ft long, the other was 6ft long.
First lay a board perpendicular to the string, on the outside of the tree on the left. Next lay a board on the outside of the tree on the right.
Then center the long story pole between the two boards. I accomplished this by laying my story pole on the ground, and matching the same measurment on both sides, from story pole, to the board.
Next center the small story pole inside the long one. Again match your measurements on both sides.
Dig 3ft deep holes on the end of the story pole. Pack down a base of stone, in the hole. Than place your post in the hole. Next center your post and bring it into contact with your string. Plumb your post and apply braces to keep it from moving. Next pack stone around your post, make sure to pack it down. You can also use concrete. I used half stone, than packed dirt for the other half (I was low on funds, and probably will regret this in the future).
Cut your center posts off at 3'8", and your side posts at 2'6", or at whatever height you would like your fence.
Go ahead and set all of your posts. Once all posts are set, you can run a string off your top posts, level the string, and cut all of your center posts at that line. Do the same for your end posts.
Step 3: Encase Posts, Apply Slats
Apply your front side of the casing to the front of the post. Next work your way around the side, back, than the other side. The height of the casing is the length your post, just take off a 1/2" or so, to keep casing off the ground.
Now is the time to measure your slats. Not all of your sections of fence will be identical. So measure from post to post, this measurement will be your length (short point to short point) for your mitered cuts, on your slats. Remember the first two courses are short length, the final three are long.
I made two jigs for my next step, so as to place my slats at the appropriate elevations. Look at photo 5, to see how I made my jig, just pad out, a little extra, from the casing, to give room for slats to be slid in. I also drilled holes, to screw through, for each coarse. I used 1"x6" slats and spaced courses by 3"
Clamp one jig to the right center post, hold the jig 3/4" high, so a top for the casing could be added. Place the other jig on the left post, and check level.
Slide the two short slats in, make sure the short point of the miter cuts, are on the edge of the casings, and screw them to the front casing.
Apply the other three slats. I had to hold up the bottom course, to the jig, because I didn't account for it, when I made the jig.
After you applied all of your slats to the two center posts, take off your jigs, and use them on the two side posts.
Step 4: Finish Posts
Make returns, from the slats, and around the casings.
Measure the width of the casing, that will be your short point to short point. The last return will butt into the back side of your slat.
Make a top for your post. This top, will actually sit on top of your casing, and will be "hugged" by the slat and is returns!
Finally plug screw holes!
Step 5: End Note
I have been working on this project since June. As I said, it is not for the faint of heart. As you can see, it is still not 100% complete. I still need to finish all returns, and plug the screw holes. That will be the end of phase1. Much apologies for the low light photos, I'll try to update soon.
I'm entering the "home improvement" contest, so I wanted to show my progress so far.
Phase 2, is incorporating a privacy fence at the far end of the property, that will "tie in", to my segmented fencing. Stay tuned, beacuse I will be updating this project over the next couple weeks.
Participated in the
First Time Author Contest
Participated in the
Home Improvement Contest 2017
Participated in the
4 years ago
It's been about a year and half since you posted this, how has the wood held up so far?
5 years ago
Wow! That's one of the beautiful fences I've ever seen ? Will the wood survive in rain and snow ? We don't make fences with wood here in India :)
Reply 5 years ago
Thanks, burning the wood first, tightens up poors in the wood, so it helps keep water out, and it keeps the wood more stable (less cupping and warping)! There are temples in Japan that have had this siding for hundreds of years.
Reply 5 years ago
So burning (controlled right ?) is what gives them the characteristic color. I thought it was some paint or primer. Thanks for the reply :)
5 years ago
That's a really beautiful accent for the fencing, I love it!