How to Build a Freestanding Privacy Fence

Written by colleen morrison
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How to Build a Freestanding Privacy Fence
Example of Freestanding Privacy Fence (

A warm summer evening, a pitcher of sangria, a little soft music--and the neighbour's kids watching you through the fence. Think of all the times and all the places you've been when you wished you could have just a little privacy, not a soundproof room but a little "alone" space. It would be great to have a portable, free-standing privacy fence that you can throw up at a moment's notice to give you a little protection from prying eyes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 1-by-1 inch lumber or lath
  • Brass wood screws, 2 1/2 inches
  • 6 or 8 hinges, depending on the plan
  • Saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Wood glue
  • Screwdriver or electric drill
  • Paint or stain

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  1. 1

    Decide how much privacy you need, and draw a picture of the ideal fence. Consider building your privacy fence in panels that you can join together with hinges, unfold easily and store flat. Three or four panels 2 by 4 feet each will be just right.

  2. 2

    To build one panel, cut pieces of 1 by 1 inches, 4 feet in length, to make 24 4-foot pieces. Lay them on a flat surface, side by side so that their long edges touch and they make a "panel" approximately 24 inches wide.

  3. 3

    Measure the exact width of your 1-by-1 "panel." Mark and cut two pieces of 1 by 1 to extend the entire width of the 24-piece panel (it should be approximately 2 feet wide). Run a bead of wood glue on the flat side of one 2-foot piece. Gently lay it across the bottom of the "panel," taking care not to disturb the 24 pieces. Repeat the process with the second 2-foot length of 1 by 1, and lay it across the top of the "panel." Let the glue dry.

  4. 4

    When the glue has dried, turn the panel over and repeat the process with two more 2-foot lengths of 1 by 1, gluing one to the top and one to the bottom edges of your panel. You may choose to add a 2-foot piece to both sides across the centre of your panel for added strength.

  5. 5

    Use an electric drill or screwdriver to drive a wood screw through all three layers of 1 by 1 at the top and bottom of each long piece in your panel.

  6. 6

    Build two or three more panels, according to your plans. Stand the panels side by side against a wall or other flat surface and decide how to attach your hinges; you must install them so that the panels will fold into one neat stack, so pay attention to the direction each hinge opens and closes. Attach one edge of a hinge at the top and at the bottom of two panels where three layers come together. Reverse the hinges for the next two panels.

  7. 7

    Paint or stain your freestanding privacy fence, or use wood preservative to prevent it from warping.

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