How to Build a Railroad Tie Fence
Railroad ties can make a sturdy fence that matches rugged terrain on large properties. These fences are commonly found on ranches and farms, where they help to contain cattle and other animals. Get ties from a reputable lumber source in your area, and inspect them before you make your fence. Older recycled ties may be rotted or have critter infestations, reducing the life of your fence. Recycled ties may also contain creosote. It's a tar byproduct that preserves wood but has possible health risks according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A stacked railroad tie fence is rugged and aesthetically pleasing.
Measure the area you want to fence, and design the pattern of railroad ties. Railroad ties are typically 10 feet long. If you are stacking them at an angle to make a zigzag -patterned fence, each section will cover 5 feet. Assume you will have 20 sections to make 100 feet of fence.
Mark the pattern out to make sure the spacing is right. Measure the tip of each zigzag to ensure that the distance is uniform across the fence. You can mark the spot with spray chalk on the ground to maintain the pattern. Set the first tie down with each end on a chalk mark for the first section.
Lay the first tie of the second section down, staggering it over the first and taking it to the second panel chalk mark.
Position the first railroad tie of the third panel under the tie sitting on the chalk mark for the second, making the second level from the first panel to the third. Drill a hole in the center of the first zig mark, and drill one in the second.
Repeat the layout on the first two layers of railroad ties until you have gotten across the fence line. This method keeps the weight and balance of the fence even as you build it. And it allows you to drill a hole where the ties meet to secure with rebar later.
Continue the staggering process until you have five railroad ties in the first panel and five in the second, creating a 10-railroad-tie-high panel with one tie space between each tie. Continue this process through the entire fence.
Secure all ties at zig points with rebar posts, measuring the rebar to be 8 inches higher than the top of the fence. Once the rebar is threaded through all the drilled railroad tie holes, use a post driver to secure the excess into the ground, further stabilizing the fence.
- Wear gloves if you're handling railroad ties with creosote. Do not use these ties as firewood, and wear a respirator if you're sanding the ties down. You want to avoid inhaling creosote particles in any sawdust.
With more than 15 years of professional writing experience, Kimberlee finds it fun to take technical mumbo-jumbo and make it fun! Her first career was in financial services and insurance.
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