How to build a fence at home

I’m a weekend mechanic, and DIY-er and my wife tells me that I have to stop looking for new projects. Unless I finish those that I already have on my list, she won’t let me work on new ones. You know how it is. You get overly excited because of something, and then you start researching the topic and stumble upon projects that are even more useful and interesting. I’m all for building stuff around the house that works for everyone, so I’ll have to consider what my wife told me.

Nonetheless, building a new wood fence was a project I could dive into without getting comments from my family. While building your own fence will inevitably save you some precious pennies, you might have to own and utilize certain tools that you may already have in your garage or workshop.


The first thing you have to do is check your local restrictions. Make sure that building a fence is not illegal especially if you live in a closed community where bothering your neighbors might force you to spend a fine. Both your local planning department and your neighborhood association can be of assistance, in this sense. Once you have it all covered, you have to apply for a permit. I’m not a big fan of all this bureaucracy, but it can be useful if you want to make sure that you won’t get in trouble.


Once you’ve figured out everything I’ve mentioned already, you can finally choose your materials. It goes without saying that building a wood fence is far easier to do than putting together a metal one, so make sure that you have all the skills, experience, and tools you might require.

There are hundreds of styles to consider, but I’m going to tell you what I did. I started by finding my property line so that I don’t get in trouble in the future. Who knows when someone might think that I’ve built my fence on their property?

Next, I decided on the right height. A 3-ft fence did it for me. I then staked the corner locations and squared the corners. I placed some middle posts and continued by digging the actual holes. Setting the posts wasn’t all that hard, but when I got to the part where I had to pour the concrete footing, boy oh boy, was I nervous. I didn’t want to make any mistakes because I didn’t have the chance to work with concrete before.


I then added a mason’s line, my support boards, and all of the privacy boards. I realize that as I am writing this, I make this all sound like it’s incredibly easy. It’s not, really, and it needs a bit of commitment. I finished with treating the boards, so everything looks nice and tidy. My wife was proud of me and so were my nephews. Everyone was impressed with my skills, so I was a happy man.




I built a DIY workbench


I am sure you will agree with me that a workbench is crucial for successful project completion. Since I love working with my hands as an artist as much as I love building things, I made a DIY workbench. I used medium-density overlay (MDO) panel, which is a type of plywood with a laminate surface. I also used LVL joists and clear Douglas fir. The miscellaneous components of my DIY workbench included 12 pieces each of washers, nuts and carriage bolts. I also used bench dogs and the needed accessories, galvanized lag screws, wood glue, sandpaper and oil finish.

For the benchtop, I purchased two LVL joists, which resemble massive sheets of plywood. Each measured 13/4 inches by 91/2 inches wide and 16 feet long. I had the lumberyard crosscut them into two lengths of 62 inches each to make them easier to work with. This left a 68-inch long offcut.

Using my table saw that I had fitted with a 50-tooth combination rip-crosscut blade, I made the first ripping pass. I had earlier set the saw fence to 3 ⅛ inches. I used a push stick as I was nearing the end of the cut. I made one rip pass on each of the six LVL pieces. To check for flatness and square, I used a straightedge and woodworking square. Then I ripped the joists again to eliminate minor imperfections and the factory edge.

I then used a block plane to remove the small bumps on the spot with two overlapping veneer pieces. I fed each piece through a benchtop planer for a consistently straight and flat surface that’s free of the waxy protective coating applied to the joist at the mill. After planing the pieces, I used a miter saw to crosscut the pieces, with a stop block to ensure a consistent length.

Using a foam paint roller, I applied glue on the face of each LVL piece then clamped the pieces together using the rest of the earmarked benchtop pieces to serve as a reference plane and also a clamping block. To ensure the pieces stay aligned, I used a rafter square. After the glue was cured, I did the same procedure to glue the other three pieces of the top, clamping the 3-piece subassembly to the first 4-piece assembly on one side and the rest of the benchtop pieces on the other side.

This gave me a total of two 4-piece and two 3-piece assemblies. After measuring and marking the centerlines of the holes for the bench dogs, I aligned each mark on every three piece and four-piece assembly glued together then bore the holes on the edge. To complete the top, I glued and clamped all four sections together, then used a cabinet scraper to clean off hardened glue blotches.



After marking the outline of the Yost vise mounting pads on the top, I clamped a straightedge across the benchtop that would enable me to use a plunge router to cut the recess. After sanding the benchtop, I applied oil finish and installed the vise.

To make the base, I used a miter saw and stop block to crosscut 2×4 and 4×4 lumber and fed the cut up sections through the planer to reduce the thickness of the pieces. This resulted in each 4×4 piece getting reduced to 3 ⅜ inches all around and each 2×4 to 1 2/8 x 3 ⅜ inches. With my table saw outfitted with dado blades, I proceeded to test the setup to cut notches and dadoes into the bench legs.

I chose not to build a back panel for the bench, as it would only be for aesthetic and not structural purposes so it was unnecessary. I clamped the cross supports and legs together to dry fit them, then checked the assembly using a rafter square. For the carriage bolts, I cut the through holes with the parts clamped together, then sanded the cross supports and legs. I then rounded the corners on the cross supports and legs using a chamfer bit and small router.
I applied oil finish to the cross supports and legs then bolted the base together. To this, I mounted the top flush to the outside surface of the base, making sure to do this on the back. After centering the benchtop on the base both left and right, I cut ¼-inch pilot holes through the cross supports right into the top, then drove ⅜-inch lag screws into the bench top. After that, my DIY workbench was complete. Some people use an 8 inch drill press for such jobs, but I think that is unnecessary.


How I built my essential toolbox

Yep, I have got a new garage. The next thing I had to do was make it a functional one. I started by building my own essential toolbox. The tough part? Deciding what to put in it that will enable me to handle a variety of simple and major home improvement projects. Although I love working with my hands, there’s nothing like a well-stocked toolbox that allows me to do many tasks in my shop more easily.

I invested in quality tools, even if it was just one piece at a time.

I didn’t want to waste money on cheap tools that only turn out crappy after being used two times or so. I might have been able to get China-made tool sets for under $35, but before making that mistake, I had asked myself seriously if I could afford replacing them regularly with even more crappy tool sets after just a few uses. What I wanted in my toolbox were top quality tools from world-renowned makers who could stand by their products with a warranty and dependable customer service. So, I chose tough and durable tools to fill up my tool arsenal.

A fantastic tool box won’t be filled in a day, I realized, especially since I had intended to only have the finest items in it. If you can get a complete set of top quality tools, good for you. However, for those like me who do not yet have the luxury of a full budget, getting one quality tool at a time is not such a shameful thing. Breaking the bank by buying all your tools in one go is foolish so I simply spread out my acquisitions.

One good tip: watch out for holiday sales, such as those that involve handyman’s tools on Father’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Those have been perfect times in which I was able to acquire good items at superbly low prices.


I got tools that any DIY worker would need.

I bought a top quality screwdriver set. A screwdriver is useful for anything, from prying paint can lids off to handling the battery compartment of a child-proof item. The set in my tool box comes with flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers in a host of sizes. I had wanted comfortable grips and magnetic tips to go with them, and that was exactly what I got.

I also got locking, adjustable pliers. Also known as vise grips, they can be used in place of a wire cutter or wrench, or for clamping. I have a claw hammer for driving nails in and for pulling them out using the other side of the tool. The handle on mine is made of wood, but there are rubber, plastic, fiberglass or vinyl handles that I heard somewhere are better and also offer shock absorption for good measure. Metal handled ones are also available.

For loosening plumbing fixtures or tightening nuts and bolts, I decided to get an adjustable wrench. An electric drill is a must for driving screws and drilling holes, and even for grinding or sanding materials when outfitted with the right bit. I got mine, a corded one, during a Father’s Day sale years ago at my favorite online store, and it’s still going strong.

I got miscellaneous tool box items as well.

A tape measure is handy for sizing up workpieces or simply making sure furniture will fit through the door. The one I have in my toolbox is ¾-inch wide and 16 feet long, which is a good size for most home applications.

A worklight or LED flashlight, headlamp or work lamp lets me do work correctly even in low or poor lighting conditions. For sharpening pencils or opening boxes, a utility knife is my go-anywhere workhorse. Mine comes with integrated blade storage and comfortable rubber handles. I also have a hacksaw with easily replaceable blades. The level in my tool box allows me to hang items in a horizontally-perfect manner.

How about you? What tools do you think should be in the complete handyman’s essential toolbox?




How I repaired my old backpack


I love traveling to different places to find good things to paint. There’s always something interesting going on somewhere and that is worthy to immortalize on canvas. Thus, my trusty old backpack has been through some tough times and through a dozen or so airports and conveyor belts. But I have grown so fond of it that when the backpack got damaged, I decided to repair it on my own. I felt that I and my backpack have grown so attached to each other, both literally and figuratively, that it deserves nothing else but my own hands to fix it and bring it back to life.

When the backpack’s fabric pockets sustained holes, tears and rips due to a variety of reasons, the first thing I went for was duct tape, which is a widely used and cheap means to fix rips and tears temporarily in different fabrics. When removed, duct tape tends to leave a sticky residue that can be handled easily using methylated spirits. Specialist tapes are available though, so feel free to get some if you prefer.



I cleaned the area to be repaired inside and out first using a damp piece of cloth. Before the adhesive was applied, I made sure the area was completely dry so the duct tape would stick. To ensure good coverage, I cut the duct tape one inch larger beyond the edges of the rip, tear or hole all the way around the broken area.

Before covering the tear on the outside, I first stuffed the inside of the backpack. After sticking the tape onto the outside aspect of the tear, I removed the things I put into the backpack and then placed a second piece of tape on the inside aspect to strengthen the tear I had fixed.
To handle a tear in the mesh pocket, I had to take a needle and nylon cord to fix it. Some dental floss or fishing wire will do just as well as nylon cord. Sewing sideways, I used the first few stitches to close the tear and then pulled the mesh together. I then sewed up and down, creating a grid resembling the mesh that I had pulled together.

Seam grip was useful for going over the stitching I had made, as it reinforced the stitch and also augmented the fix with some water resistance.


When the zip got distorted, or when it went around with the pack still open, I simply opened the zip as far as it could go, then took a pair of pliers to lightly squeeze the bottom and top of the slider together. This brought the slider closer to the zip, solving the problem instantly. For bent slider teeth, I used a pair of needle nose pliers for greater precision. I used the tool to bend the teeth back into shape. If you do this, remember to be gentle as a tooth could easily snap off.

Lip balm can be used to lubricate jammed zips, but dry lube works better. When the slider needs to be completely replaced, don’t worry. When that happened to my backpack, I just bought a new zip slider and replaced the broken one in minutes. I had to be very careful removing the older slider so I wouldn’t damage the zip. I just cut it off with a pair of pliers, then slid the new one onto the zip.

Replacing a broken buckle on the go won’t be that easy. Since what broke was a chest strap buckle (this also applies to a broken buckle on your hip), I replaced it with another one that was in a less crucial area of the pack and that was of the same or approximate size. When I got home, I replaced the broken buckle immediately with a new one and then put back the other old buckle where I had taken it from.

When all else fails, just get a new backpack. That being said, it is always a great idea to get a really durable top quality backpack at the onset, so you wouldn’t have to worry about repairs in the future.



I want this system


It’s a no-brainer from where I stand, this system is just what my garage door needs.