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Wood post notching

24801 Views 27 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Markhcm46
Need help with some post notching ideas here. I am building about a half mile of post and rail fence. I'm using 6" treated round posts and 2x6 rails. I need to notch the round posts 1 1/2" deep x 5 1/2" to fit the 2x6 rails. I've done the whole multiple cut thing with the circular saw and then knocked it out with a hammer, but at 42 my back does not like that at all. Keep in mind each post has to have four notches in it for the rails. I tried a chainsaw, which made short work of notching the wood out but because I don't make a habit of carving bear statues on the weekends I found this very difficult to control. I have a good many of the posts already in the ground, so what ever I come up with needs to work for that. I thought of a planer, but I've never seen a handheld that cuts an 1 1/2 deep, and the footplate wont allow you to follow the cut down. If anyone has come across a similar problem in the past and has come up with a good practical solution for this I would appreciate your input.

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If you don't need to leave any meat in the middle, what about a 1-1/2" paddle bit (or something similar) straight through and clean it up with a chisel?

Even then, you can drill only as deep as you need to.

A succession of holes bored wont leave much left over to clean out.
I was going to say chainsaw, but I do make a habit of making bears on the weekend.
Angle grinder with one of those wheels with the chain on it.The name escapes me now but I used them for hollowing lots of things years ago.
Here it is:
I would take the bulk out with a chainsaw and clean up with this.
JR Shepstone- The 2x6 rails are attached to the outside surface of the posts, not "running through the posts". It needs to be a "square" notch about 5 1/2 "tall" and about 1 1/2" deep.
From your earlier posts I thught you wanted a round bottom notch to accept a half round post.Square notchs are easy cut them on a radial arm saw with a dado blade before you set the posts.You could also make a template to clamp to the post and hog thm out with a router.You could cut them with a sawzall and clean the corners up with a chisel.The list goes on!!!
mako1- I'm looking for a practical way to cut them while they're in the ground. The radial arm saw would be out. Even with a dado blade you still have to make multiple passes to get the 5 1/2" width. I thought about the router idea, and I may try it just to see how it goes. Currently, the best compromise I have found for practical speed and quality of cut has been making multiple cross cuts with a singular blade on a circular saw (dado is to hard to control and support freehand on a post like that), but as I said earlier, my back doesn't like it. I'm not sure if the router will be any easier but for now it's probably the best alternative I can think of. I was hoping that someone had actually done this application before and had a better way. I know it seems like the list goes on for this type of thing but when you actually go to do it you find that it's a pretty short list.
Goneelkn- These brackets are for a square post, I'm using round ones. I would still have to notch the round post to accept the square bracket.
I see now. I misinterpreted or misread what was written.

A homemade router jig would probably be your best bet now. Tack it on, plow it out and clean up the corners with a chisel.
Goneelkn- These brackets are for a square post, I'm using round ones. I would still have to notch the round post to accept the square bracket.
They are center screwed. They only problem would be the gap on both sides.

If you have trouble controlling one - smaller chainsaw.

If you still can't get a good cut out, make a jig kind of like a box with no bottom, temp attach it to the pole so the opening is horizontal. Hot melt glue a couple board rips to the cutting bar to act as a depth stop and guide you can slide along the inside faces of the jig. You'll figure out how to make the jig - it's pretty easy once you figure out how the cutting goes.

If you get the bar too hot, the stops / guides are coming off:whistling
An inch and a half is a lot to hog out with a router. A chain saw in the hands of a skilled user will be the fastest if you don't need it too precise. I don't have a chainsaw so I use the skill saw method. I kerf every 1/2" to 1" depending on the wood grain(more if there are knots). I usually do cleanup with a hammer or mallet and a sharp 1 1/2" Timber framing chisel or sometimes my favourite hatchet. If your back is bothering you while doing this you might be working at a height too high or too low for you. You might want to have a lower set of sawhorses for your skill saw work then a higher set for your chiseling.

Make a jig to screw to each post that has a fence to hold the linked router at each cut. No measuring and perfect cuts every single time. With the stop adjustment, you can make several passes to get to 1 1/2" if you think you need to. This hawg will laugh at a fence post. You probably won't need the dust collector:
Maybe this:
skilsaw for top and bottom cut, then tip of small chainsaw to cut through the side of the notch, then finish cut up and down with sawzall or handsaw. Lots of tools, but might be worth a try.
Chainsaw & a little practice.

Cut you a piece of stiff cardboard as a template & a sharpie marker to mark the cutout. You'll have to play with the length of the cardboard template to get the 1 1/2" mark.

Use your chainsaw just like you would a sander, ease into the line. A small chainsaw would be better for this than a large one.
Mark -- you mentioned that the fence runs about half mile. Are you temporarily tacking the 2x6 proud of the posts to get accurate cut marks or is there a different way to account for grade differences or curves ?
I think Mark's got it. You need some kind of mortise jig for a small chain saw. They do this cut on log homes all the time. They must have a system.

What is wrong with just bolting the rails to the post? Is it the joint at each rail so there are four bolts?

Notching four times on each post is a lot of work to make an area for water to get trapped in and help it to rot. Too bad you could not find an alternative.
Seems like a radial arm saw with a dado stack would work decent. The post would have to be held in a jig so the cuts would all be to the same depth.
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