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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a picket fence with gothic tops I need to start in a couple weeks. Is there a quick & easy way to cut the pickets for the curve? My current plan is to cut an 8' section at a time in my shop & bundle them together so they come off the bundle in the correct order. Going to make a template as well from OSB to hang on the posts as an installation guide.

Thanks,
Dan
 

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Retired deck builder
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The easiest way for me is to go to Viking Fence Co. & buy them all ready made. I know that's the not the answer you wanted tho. Whatever you save I doubt it'll be worth the time.
 

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Curmudgeon
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Are you asking about cutting
the tops of the pickets?
I rough cut with a saber saw,
then finish with a template and
top bearing pattern bit in router.

And Deckman is right.
The fence companies can
sell the finish product for less
than my material cost usually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm buying the pickets with the gothic profile already cut. What I'm asking about is the curve along the top of the entire 8' section as shown in the pic below. Just wondering if there is an easy method to get that overall curve I might not have thought of.
 

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If you can, the way you suggested would work great but be sure to keep your post spacing right on. I have nailed the end pickets into place and then hung a string to the curve needed and measured/cut accordingly, you may have to do this in a few spots where the post spacing doesn't work out.

Scalloped fences with decorative tops can be a pain, charge accordingly.
 

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How about putting a piece of 3/8 cdx plywood flat on the ground. Mark your arc along the top 8' area. Place your pre cut pickets up to the arc line in the fence pattern. Let the bottoms run wild, mark and cut the bottoms to the appropriate length. Label each picket. You actually have 2 of the same from this method. You now have a pattern picket to cut the rest of the picket bottoms for the same pattern. Hopefully the bottom / terrain will be favorable for a pattern method ? You may have to +/- an inch to work.

On another piece of plywood 8' long (or if needed scab together 2 pieces to bridge the 4x4 posts) cut the arc out of the top of a 2' wide x 8' long piece. Then temp nail or clamp the arc pattern to the 4x4's. You can level / place it using the bottom horiz of the arc jig. This leaves the arc cut out along the top in a place where you just pull up the pickets behind the jig to the arc line and nail. You can further adapt the jig so it's let in closer to the pickets for easier placement. Or you can have the arc pattern the opposite way, solid plywood arc down, horiz on top but you may not have temp nailing area at the top because of the deco caps. You get the general idea ?

As said by Curapa above, charge accordingly and allow 10 - 15% waste on the pickets.

Just my thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
How about putting a piece of 3/8 cdx plywood flat on the ground. Mark your arc along the top 8' area. Place your pre cut pickets up to the arc line in the fence pattern. Let the bottoms run wild, mark and cut the bottoms to the appropriate length. Label each picket. You actually have 2 of the same from this method. You now have a pattern picket to cut the rest of the picket bottoms for the same pattern. Hopefully the bottom / terrain will be favorable for a pattern method ? You may have to +/- an inch to work.

On another piece of plywood 8' long (or if needed scab together 2 pieces to bridge the 4x4 posts) cut the arc out of the top of a 2' wide x 8' long piece. Then temp nail or clamp the arc pattern to the 4x4's. You can level / place it using the bottom horiz of the arc jig. This leaves the arc cut out along the top in a place where you just pull up the pickets behind the jig to the arc line and nail. You can further adapt the jig so it's let in closer to the pickets for easier placement. Or you can have the arc pattern the opposite way, solid plywood arc down, horiz on top but you may not have temp nailing area at the top because of the deco caps. You get the general idea ?

As said by Curapa above, charge accordingly and allow 10 - 15% waste on the pickets.

Just my thoughts.
The cutting jig is an awesome idea. rather than cutting 1 by 1. It'd speed that up as well as double as an install jig. I'll take some pics when I get around to doing this in the next couple of weeks. It's a rather flat yard with a couple exceptions, so an install jig should work great.
 

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Another idea to maintain spacing of the pickets is to get a handful of jigs that can just slip over the horiz 2x4 between the pickets. Maybe glue and nail some shop or pre made trim (or other plastic thing preforned that will work) in a "U" shape that just slips over the top of the 2x as a spacer. You can also make a jig with multiple fingers that rests on the 2x (clamped) and the fingers to the outside to space the pickets. Place the two end pickets. Then use a full or half length jig to place the remaining pickets. Leave some tolerence space between the fingers for variation and adjustment. **Check the width of all your pickets first so things will work out.
 

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If you play your cards right, you won't need a install jig. The crucial part is that your post spacing needs to be right on.

It will also make things much easier if you use a kickboard to set pickets on. The kickboard could also be ripped to accomodate slight slope changes.

Make your plywood template, with the top arch cut in, and the bottom of the plywood equal to the top of the kickboard. Layout the pickets on the ply. Cut all of the tops and layout on plywood template. Mark bottom cut marks. If all the sections are the same width, multiply 2 X the number of sections. Lay your cut rails on the template and tick mark the picket locations, so that when you assemble, they are already layed out and you just nail and go.
 

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My last comment on this...

I'm not a fence guy but I can see from your pic that after placing the two end pickets there may be a way to just slip a plywood arc jig over the two end pickets. The jig is either a pocket type you just slide the pickets up into or leave it open to one side. This saves clamping, gives more nailing space and you can adjust the slip over arc jig for some variations.

Hmmm.....you can just hang the plywood arc on the end pickets with some scraps over the top edge of the jig or just clamp yhe arc jig on to the end pickets.

Addl - You can let the bottoms run wild in some areas if needed. Then cut off with a jig saw.

Have a nice day.
 

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John Hyatt
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We are talking about a fence right??? the bottom is square and the cut gets lower and then higher again right?? just figure the progresive cuts up and down they all start out the same leangth and get smaller then go up again. no need for anything else all the sections will be the same. J.
 

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always building
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i would go with two sheets of osb. use one to build your arc template this would be the part you would normally throw away if you were framing an arch. use the other sheet for a panel jig(perfectly square). snap out your horizontals (2x4?), attach your arc to the topside, do your picket layout on your horizontals, temp screw them to the panel jig, place your pickets bumped tight to the arc and set'em. if you have sloped areas just set one screw in each picket, hold to posts,tweak as needed set the rest of the screws. snap a line and cut the bottoms
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
How about using gravity and a string? Sounds pretty simple.
Well sure it is. Gothic profiled tops on the pickets, purchased this way to save me time & money. Can't just cut them once they are nailed in. If they were plain flat top pickets that idea would work just fine.

A string would mean I would have to size & cut each one individually. VERY slow. $20 plywood template, lay them all in & cut them all a section at a time with a circular saw will save me hours in labor & produce a more consistent finished product = extremely satisfied customer who will brag about my forethoguht & planning of make a jig to all his neighbors & friends = more referrals.:thumbsup:
 

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Custom Stuff
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Try using a beaded or fine link chain. Works better with gravity for arcs as string will snag on the wood. Chain is also better out in the field when there is a bit of a breeze.
 

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Install ends pickets and middle picket at desired height (better to see it), then divide height difference of high and low pickets by numbers of pickets to fill in, then run with the number.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Install ends pickets and middle picket at desired height (better to see it), then divide height difference of high and low pickets by numbers of pickets to fill in, then run with the number.
That will give you a "V". This is a curve. The pickets towards the middle will have less of a differnce in height than the ones by the posts.
 
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