How to Cut Cedar Trees to Use As Fence Posts

Because of their natural resistance to rot and decay, both western red cedar and northern white cedar have long been used for fence posts.
Cedar is an ideal wood for fence posts.Cedar is an ideal wood for fence posts.
The wood of either species is relatively soft and easy to cut. If you have the right tools and do a bit of planning, you can harvest numerous cedar trees in a relatively short period and begin building that fence.

Step 1

Slip your measuring string around the trunk of a tree you might like to cut. If your string is marked at 3-inch intervals, it's easy to determine if it's large enough for your fencing project. As a tree's circumference is roughly three times its diameter, as an example, a tree measuring 18 inches around has a diameter of nearly 6 inches.

Step 2

Measure the height of the tree trunk, using the measuring tape. Keep in mind that a fence post should have roughly 1/3 of its length buried, if you want to your fence posts to stand 6 feet above the ground line, you'll need a tree of suitable girth, with a trunk at least 9 feet high.

Step 3

Turn on your chainsaw. Remove any of the lower branches from the tree. This will give you unobstructed access to the base of the trunk.

Step 4

Cut the tree trunk off flush with the ground line. On a smaller softwood tree such as a cedar, it will not be necessary to make a wedge cut on one side. Make a horizontal cut across the trunk and drop the tree.

Step 5

Measure the trunk to the length you require, and cut away the top of the tree. Use your chainsaw to remove any other branches on the portion that will become your fence post. Repeat the process until you have harvested enough trees to complete your fencing project.

Things You Will Need

  • Chainsaw
  • Measuring tape
  • Measuring string marked at 3-inch intervals


  • The best candidates for fence posts are trees with a single, perfectly straight trunk.
  • If you cut a large cedar, it may be necessary to make a wedge cut on the trunk before cutting in from the backside.
  • Both white-tailed deer and mule deer are quite fond of browsing on cedar leaves. In all likelihood, they will make short work of the limbs and tops you leave behind.
  • As long as you're in the woods already, cut a few extra posts, just in case.


  • Unless you are an extremely experienced woodsman, never cut trees alone. If you are seriously injured by the chainsaw, you might easily bleed to death before help could arrive.

About the Author

Rich Finzer earned his boating license in 1960 and started his writing career in 1969. His writing has appeared in "Northern Breezes," "Southwinds," "Living Aboard," "Good Old Boat," "Latitudes & Attitudes," "Small Craft Advisor," "Life in the Finger Lakes," "BackHome" and "Dollar Stretcher" magazines. His maple syrup has won awards in competition. Rich has a Bachelor of Science in communications from Ithaca College.