Cut Fence Post Tops, Whether you are installing a new fence or repairing the tops that have become worn from exposure, learning how to properly cut the ends of fence posts can ensure your fence components last as long as possible. With just a few steps and basic tools, even someone new to DIY fence projects can achieve straight, smooth post tops to properly fasten rails and other post fastenings.
Select the Type of Wood for Your Fence Posts
The first consideration when working with fence posts is selecting suitable wood. To stand up to being buried in soil, the wood needs natural rot resistance or pressure treatment with preservatives.
Common sturdy species include:
Cedar – This aromatic, reddish wood has built-in oils that naturally repel insects, decay, and moisture. Its varying grain patterns also offer visual interest. Cedar’s durability makes it a standout choice. But the higher costs can limit using it for all fence components.
Redwood – Also naturally rot-resistant without chemical treatment, redwood contains tannins that help protect against fungal damage. It offers exceptional stability in its strength-to-weight ratio. Rich red to pink hues and straight grain make for an attractive fence material.
Pressure-Treated Pine – For a more affordable option, pine lumber immersed in preservatives can gain longevity suitable for fence posts. These chemicals guard against termites and fungal organisms while retaining pine’s strength and workability. However, some chemical options raise environmental impact concerns.
When selecting lumber, examine material free from major knots, cracks, or twisting which compromise durability. Match species and treatment for all cut post surfaces so vulnerable exposed wood doesn’t undermine protected areas.
Assemble Essential Cutting Tools
Trimming fence posts requires just a few key tools for efficient, safe cuts:
Circular Saw – Corded or cordless, circular saws spin a sharpened metal disc that slices through wood effortlessly. Models with adjustable shoe depth settings ensure full-thickness cuts each pass.
Safety Gear – Goggles, earmuffs, sturdy shoes, long pants, and gloves form crucial protection against flying debris and sharp edges.
Speed Square – This triangular measuring tool ensures properly angled cuts for level post tops. Reference its factory-cut straight edges when marking pencil guidelines.
Sandpaper – After cutting, medium-grit paper levels out any major saw ridge imperfections left behind.
Clamps or Vise – Securing posts during cutting prevents unwanted movement for optimal control and accuracy.
Sharpening blades and checking gear for defects pre-cuts improves safety and performance. Prepare your workspace to avoid tripping hazards and allow adequate room to maneuver tools freely.
Measure and Mark Cut Lines To Cut Fence Post Tops
Clearly defined cut marks set you up for posting topping success:
- Stand post vertically on a solid, flat work surface like a driveway or worktable. Stabilize with clamps if available.
- Place speed square against the top, lining up one factory-cut edge parallel along the post side.
- Hold the square firmly in place while tracing the desired height onto all 4 post faces with a pencil. Mark 1-2 inches below the final height to allow adjustments when setting posts.
- Run the saw blade lightly across all pencil lines to create track grooves without cutting completely through.
Steadily Guide the Circular Saw
When ready to begin cutting:
- Verify circular saw blade depth is set to cut entirely through the post thickness.
- Align saw shoe snugly inside a corner track groove, positioning the blade exit point along the marked line. Blade teeth should point directionally where you want to end up.
- Grip saw handle and post firmly with both hands, arms extended for maximum control. Feet should be planted solidly apart for balance.
- Pull the saw trigger and slowly lean your body weight into the tool allowing the edge guide to run along the pencil mark. Let the blade do the work without forcing.
- Complete cutting the initial face then check it’s near level before continuing to other sides.
- Caution: Pulling the spinning blade from a cut can cause binding and kickback if not released fully – simply allow the tool to stop completely before extraction.
Repeat carefully for the remaining corners until reaching the proper height. Having a helper stabilize long posts during cutting reduces the risk of shifting for better accuracy.
Smoothing Out Saw Marks
Once cut, fence posts often retain splintered fibers or saw groove marks marring nicely squared-off corners. Employing sandpaper evens out the top surface:
- Fold a sheet of medium/fine grit paper into a firm pad.
- Lightly smooth affected areas using long strokes following the grain direction. Don’t aggressively strip away material unnecessarily.
- Check the surface frequently to detect when flaws become minimized stopping further removal.
- Carefully wipe away all dust to prevent blocking protective coatings from absorbing properly.
Ideally, completed post tops now look neatly trimmed and feel smooth to the touch all around the perimeter.
Continue On to Fence Building
Cutting posts to uniform heights with crisp 90 degree edges allows proper attachment of rails, pickets and other fence components for optimal stability and alignment. Taking the time to develop essential saw skills makes constructing quality, lasting fences much more achievable.
And remember safety glasses, hearing protection and gloves are vital when running power saws to reduce preventable on-site injuries.
With practice, correctly measuring, tracing and operating circular saws becomes second nature allowing fence-building hobbyists to grow in confidence and mastery. So grab your tools and let’s start cutting some post tops!
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