Red Oak Picket Fence

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Project by JBrow posted 03-09-2016 07:39 PM 1900 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had a bunch of red oak and an ugly backyard chain link fence that the Black Lab/Shepard mix dog could climb, so I built a picket fence. The major challenge of this project was its shear scope. There were a lot of parts that quickly overwhelmed my workshop.

The pickets are joined to the top and bottom rails with half lap joints. The cap rail has a glued-up dado that slips over the top picket rail and is secured with painted stainless steel screws. The posts are hollow boxes that slipped on and were secured to concrete filed painted electrical conduit. Glued-up dados on the posts accept the picket panels, secured with SS screws. The post caps are pyramids that fasten to the hollow posts. All horizontal surfaces are either beveled or rounded over to shed water. The posts are about 3” – 4” off the ground. Pressure treated lumber attached to the electrical conduit forming a channel under the fence which is filled with stone.

The gate hinge is also made from red oak. The oak laces together like a piano hinge and the fence and gate assemblies are held together with a ½” steel rod. The gate latch is also red oak.

Sikkens SRD was used to protect the wood, but because it failed to give even a full seasons protection, I switched to Sikkens Cetol 1 RE. It required sanding the entire fence (a nightmare), but it seems to be holding up better. There is very little checking, no rot, and the Titebond III water resistant glue continues doing its job. The only structural problem is a sagging gate, probably due to constant weight of the gate and the natural sponginess of the wood hinge. I am considering adding marine hardware consisting of a cable and turn buckle to help support the weight of the gate, but have not yet decided.

The fence has been installed for at least 6 years and after adding a wood lock to the gate latch (the Lab learned how to open the original gate latch); the fence still looks good and the Lab stays in the yard – unless the gate is left open.

7 comments so far

View BurlyBob's profile


8855 posts in 3349 days

#1 posted 03-09-2016 07:48 PM

That’s a really nice looking fence.

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3427 days

#2 posted 03-09-2016 09:13 PM

nice work

View robscastle's profile


7878 posts in 3288 days

#3 posted 03-10-2016 07:05 AM

The fence looks great,
BTW was there a bit of a nip in the air as you were building it?
Or maybe it was just the fact your tools felt a little cooler than normal?

-- Regards Rob

View CaptainSkully's profile


1615 posts in 4642 days

#4 posted 03-10-2016 02:23 PM

Awesome fence! The nice thing about Cetol is that it breathes. Put one coat a day on for a week, then one coat a year and it should stay nice forever.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4661 days

#5 posted 03-10-2016 02:28 PM

Looks great but I wonder about Red oak outside,it’s not a good wood for outdoors.


View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 2004 days

#6 posted 03-10-2016 03:35 PM


When I do my detailed inspection of the fence when spring finally arrives, I will keep multiple coats in mind. I do not remember whether I applied one coat or two after re-sanding the fence – probably 2. I do know that I did not apply as many coats as you recommend. Neither the company nor Twin Creek Log Home Supply, from whom I bought the Cetol, mentioned this number of coats. However Sikkens does say on their product label, at least for SRD, that hardwoods require more applications. If I observe wear through of the Cetol, I will multi-coat this spring. By the way and as you know, the stuff really stinks up the backyard. They did reduce their VOCs, but it still off-gases badly.


Red oak is an open pore wood and sucks up moisture like a sponge. I am not sure why the fence has held up well. Perhaps because the fence is designed to shed standing water and it is open on most surfaces to the air coupled with the fact that I have kept on top of maintenance.

I had a lot of red oak, so that is what I used. However, if I would have had to buy wood, I probably would have selected cedar or redwood.


Thanks for the comments!

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4661 days

#7 posted 03-10-2016 03:39 PM

I understand using what you have ,I hope the recoating helps it last longer.Unlike red oak white oak holds up relatively well outdoors. You still did a good job.


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