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Person sanding timber plinth.

Overview

Building a wooden paling fence can give you privacy and security. The rails and plinths are important support structures, so you need to make sure you get them fitted right. This guide will show you how to cut and install the rails and plinths, and cut the posts so the rain runs-off.

Steps

1Measure for the plinth

The plinth needs to be mounted in the centre of the post. To do this measure from the outside edge of one post to the inside edge of the furthest post your length of wood can reach. Mark this length on the plinth with a pencil and set square.

Two people measuring very long piece of timber plinth on work horses.

2Cut the plinth

Secure the plinth to the saw horses with clamps. Put on the safety gear. Use the circular saw to cut the plinth to size.
Person measuring weathered plinth with metal ruler and measuring tape.

3Install the plinth

Place the plinth on the ground in front of the fence posts. Use the spirit level to check that it's sitting level. Once the plinth is level, use the nail gun to secure to the post. Check the plinth is level before you nail it to each post. 

Person placing spirit level on top of piece of timber plinth.

4Measure for the second plinth

Measure the distance from the end of the first plinth to the wall. Transfer that distance onto the plinth.

Person using clamp to secure timber plinth in place, ready for cutting.

5Cut the second plinth

Secure the second plinth to the saw horses with clamps. Use the circular saw to cut it to size.

Person using nail gun to secure plinth to post.

6Install the second plinth

Lay the second plinth near the posts where it will be attached. Use the spirit level to make sure it's level. Once it is, use the nail gun to secure it to the post. Check the plinth is level before you nail it to each post.

Person holding plinth against post and making a mark with pencil.

7Measure for the height of the fence posts

Place a fence post on the plinth against the post. Mark its height on the post. Measure down from that mark and draw a line across with the set square. This will ensure that you don't see the top of the post from the outside of the fence.

Person measuring weathered plinth with metal ruler and measuring tape.

8Mark the fall on the posts

A fall needs to be cut on the top of the fence posts so that rain runs off them. Use the set square and pencil to mark the height of the fence posts on the side of the post. Draw another line 40mm below it. Use the set square to run a diagonal line from the corner of the top line to the opposite corner. This is the fall line. 

Person using power sander on timber plinth.

9Cut the fall

Use the circular saw and hand saw to cut the diagonal line on the post. Repeat steps 8 and 9 to cut the fall on all of the posts.

Person measuring weathered plinth with metal ruler and measuring tape.

10Measure for the rails

Mark with a set square where the top railing will go on the fence post. Draw another line 70mm below that, this is the width of the railing.  Mark with a set square where the bottom railing will go on the fence post. Draw another line 70mm up from that line. Determine the centre point between the top and bottom rails. This is where the middle rail will go. Repeat this process on all of the fence posts.

Person using power sander on timber plinth.

11Install the rails

Get someone to help you slot the rails into the notches. Use the nail gun to nail the rail to the post. 

Person inserting timber plinth into cut out spot in timber post.

12Cut the rail

To nail the next rail into a notch, you will need to cut the previous rail. Use the circular saw to cut at the point where it sits in the middle of the notch. This will give you the space for the next rail to be attached. 

Person using saw to cut off excess plinth.

13Finish installing the rails

Repeat steps 12 and 13 to install all of the rails

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.