What to expect: Western Red Cedar fence

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Forum topic by Doss posted 05-24-2012 06:01 AM 10170 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2807 days

05-24-2012 06:01 AM

Topic tags/keywords: horizontal slat fence modern western red cedar cedar shrinkage

So, I’ve decided to use Western red cedar for my fence (horizontal slat fence with main posts at 10’ and supplemental posts at 5’ between the 10’s… midpoint).

I do have a question though. Since the Western red cedar I’m using is quoted as being green, should I be expected any loss in length for the boards (3/4” x 6” x 10’)? I ask b/c I know pine does tend to move a lot but the WRC should be fairly stable even while drying out.

Which brings up another question, should I use a butt-joint to put the boards end-to-end or a mitered joint (similar to baseboards or crown)?

If the boards shrink slightly in length, that could be a big deal where the boards join.

Here’s a rough example of the fence type I’m building:

Image from

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

10 replies so far

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3019 days

#1 posted 05-24-2012 11:39 AM

Wood shrinks minimally longitudinally (along the length). Shrinkage is across the length from the outside to the inside of the tree. Plus, western red cedar shrinks less than most species. The miter joint will hide any minimal shrinkage in length, if any occurs.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 2829 days

#2 posted 05-24-2012 12:38 PM

That’s a nice looking fence. I always wanted one, but I’d like it to be 10 ft high so I can block my next door neighbors who are very rude people. Unfortunately I’d have to have a variance to install it.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View bondogaposis's profile


5561 posts in 2894 days

#3 posted 05-24-2012 12:42 PM

Wood doesn’t shrink longitudinally, I wouldn’t worry about that. I would worry more about the posts shrinking in width and maybe messing w/ the joints.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2807 days

#4 posted 05-24-2012 02:59 PM

Yeah, that’s more along the lines of what I already knew. I’ve just seen lots of PT pine fences come apart due to poor construction or fasteners and that made me want to check just to be sure. Essentially, we’re talking about a green wood (I wouldn’t even worry a bit if it were kiln-dried). The problem I was having was even if the longitudinal shrinking were minimal percentage-wise (what many of us would consider “no shrinkage”), over a 10 ft run of fence a 1/4” of shrinking will lead to a visible gap at the joints.

And yes, I am worried about the movement of the pine posts. Anyone have any ideas on how to reduce the chances of them moving? Thanks for confirming my worry was somewhat of a non-issue.

Russell, I am a modern fanatic and this fence will go just fine with my 1950’s house (though it is not truly mid-century mod in design).

Here’s what I’m trying to match (yes this is my house and the wood is KD cedar (no movement)):

And here is the backyard construction zone:

Thanks y’all!

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3501 days

#5 posted 05-24-2012 09:15 PM

The shrinkage in length will be extremely minimal, nothing to worry about really; but if you’re worrying it anyway, you could predrill the screw holes (or nailholes, however you attach them) bigger than the screw, allowing for a bit of movement.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2807 days

#6 posted 05-24-2012 09:50 PM

Thanks Nomad, samples come in tomorrow and if the amount of small knots are acceptable to me, I’ll place my order for WRC.

The price jump up to clear (select) wood is brutal… effectively doubling the price. I think I can live with small tight knots with a dark colored stain.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View david_larch's profile


104 posts in 2845 days

#7 posted 05-24-2012 11:12 PM

Glad to know there is another modern / mid-century nut on the boards. I have a late 50’s Mid Century money pit in SoCal. Look forward to seeing your fence. I am looking to do something similar to your carport solution in the near future. Awesome job, great to see. Thanks for sharing.


View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2807 days

#8 posted 05-25-2012 04:52 PM

Thanks David.

Pretty much everything I do is mid-century mod, Danish/Scan, or, at the very least, contemporary in design. I don’t know if you know this, but my taste is nowhere near the ordinary around here (the South).

I envy you being in SoCal. I stayed in Palm Springs for a week and then San Diego and finally Los Angeles and I caught myself trying to figure out shipping charges for all the stuff I was finding. FYI, don’t think shipping on dining tables, couches, and credenzas is low… it’s not. LOL

I’ll be sure to post up the results and also a follow-along as I put the fence up.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View frisco981's profile


2 posts in 2325 days

#9 posted 07-11-2013 11:37 AM

love the fence above.

I wanted to point out the website linked above ( has a ton of viruses on it.

View HerbC's profile


1801 posts in 3402 days

#10 posted 12-02-2014 01:44 PM


If it took your spammer almost 1 1/2 years to find this post to use for your attempt to draw traffic to your fence company site, I hate to think how long it takes them to design and install a fence like the one referenced in this topic.

I look forward to seeing all the projects you post here at Lumberjocks.


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

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