How to build a horizonal ipe fence

I know I sound like a broken record, but work on wrapping the carport in ipe continues. It’s a tedious project, but each row makes a visual impact. In case you’re interested in (or crazy enough to think about) building a horizontal ipe fence, here’s a guide.

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Obviously you need to order some wood. Here are some other products you’ll need:

The folks at Advantage Lumber helped us estimate the quantities. Once we’re done, we’ll let you know if they were on target.

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Let’s talk for second about ipe clips. Each box includes:

  • 175 ipe clips
  • 190 screws
  • A star drill tip
  • A drill bit
  • 12 ipe plugs
  • Instructions

You want all of these things. If you don’t buy them, you can just drill each board into the fence post and live with all of those screws staring back at you. But your yard (and your eyes) deserve better than that. These fasteners will anchor the wood to the post and remain hidden. Plus they help space each row appropriately. They come in different gap sizes, we opted for the smallest gap.

Ok, let’s build a fence! Choose a piece of wood. Ideally you want a piece of wood that is rather straight. We’re working with B grade wood, so sometimes that means chopping off a bit that’s warped.

Cut the wood to size. Note: It’s helpful to have someone who is good at measuring perform most of these steps. (You’ll notice that it’s not me.)

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The boards are held together and anchored to the post with ipe clips, but to start a row you’ll need to secure the bottom directly to the post. On each end of the board, measure how much the board will overlap the post and then mark the center point. Keep that measurement in mind (or write it down) because you’ll use it a lot.

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Drill a hole using a 1/8″ drill bit and then a 3/8″ countersink bit. Aaron loves this one from Rockler. The hole is for the screw and the countersink is for the ipe plug. (More on that later.)

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Then seal the end of the wood. This keeps the ipe from cracking over time. It’s also important to do this after you measure/drill so you don’t end up with wax all over your tools.

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Liberally apply the wax to the ends of each board use a brush. It’s a good idea to do this in the grass in case there are drips.

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Construction adhesive offers additional holding power. Add some to the post before placing your board.

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For the first board, screw one side into the post.

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Level it. Then add a screw to the other side.

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The boards will need a space for each ipe clip. This is easily achieved with a biscuit joiner set at the appropriate depth for the ipe clip. We did a few tests on scrap wood to get the depth correct. For the first row, we opted to make the biscuit cut once the board was in place.

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Drop an ipe clip into the biscuit cut.

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Use the drill bit from the ipe clip kit to pre-drill a hole for the screw. Then use the screws from the kit to attach the board and clip to the post. Screw down and at an angle.

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Choose another board, cut it to length it and mark the center points that you measured earlier. From here on up, make the biscuit cuts on both sides (and both ends) of the board now.

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Don’t forget to seal the ends. Add construction adhesive to the post, and place the board onto the ipe clips from the row before. Level the board <– This is very important to ensure your fence stays level all the way up. If you’re working with B grade wood, which we are, most of the boards are not going to be perfect. You can compensate some by pulling down on one end of the board (or sitting on it in extreme cases) to make it level.

Repeat until you reach the top of your post. For the last board, make your biscuit cuts only on one side. Then drill a hole to attach the board to the top of the post.

Use the ipe pegs from the ipe clip box to fill in the screw holes. Add some wood glue.

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Tap it into place with a hammer.

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Once the wood glue dries, chip off the excess with a chisel so the plug is flush with the board.

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Congratulations you just built a section of horizontal fence. From here you can apply ipe oil if you want to darken the wood or let it weather to a silvery color. We opted for the former.

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It’s a pretty simple process, but it is time consuming. This section of fence took us an entire Sunday. Of course, we took A LOT of breaks to admire the progress and exclaim how excited we were. Make sure you build that into your timeline.

11 comments

  1. Liz

    I’ve really enjoyed following the progress on your house and learning about all these DIY projects along the way. And, I just have to say your photography skills are amazing because you manage to make something as simply as a shot of wood look fantastic!

  2. Susan

    So where did you get your ipe? I’m in northwest Arkansas and the home centers don’t carry it here. Even had a Lowes man tell me he’s never heard of it so it’s probably not worth having!!

    • Heather

      We ordered everything (ipe, clips, sealer, oil) through Advantage Lumber. We took advantage of a President’s Sale that offered free shipping, which saved us a bunch. They were very helpful with ordering, though they may have over sold the clips to us. We’re hoping we can return the unused ones. Besides that they were fantastic to work with! http://www.advantagelumber.com/

  3. Pingback: Staining the fence posts |

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