A common method of constructing or repairing a wood fence involves the attachment of a series of interconnected boards called "panels" to wooden posts protruding from the ground. Panels can be built from raw materials or bought as prefabricated units. Properly mounting fence panels to posts is essential to the proper function of your fence.
Buy or build the appropriate number of fence panels. To determine how many panels you need, count the number of fence posts you have and subtract one. Calculate the correct length of the panels by measuring from the centre of one post to the centre of an adjoining post. The height of your fence will vary according to your taste, the fence's intended use, and local ordinances.
Position each fence panel so that its edges reach the centre of each post to which the panel will be attached. Because fence panels are often large and very heavy, you will need the help of at least one other person to steady the panels as you position them and attach them to the posts. Always attach a fence panel to a post with the panel's support beams facing your property. You can identify the support beams as the two or three boards running horizontally across the length of one side of the panel. Place a level along the top rail or support beam to ensure that the panel is straight.
Attach the panel to the posts. Drive two or three stainless screws or heavy duty nails through each side of the top and bottom support beams and into the post at 30 to 45 degree angles. You can also mount the panels by attaching angle brackets the support beams and the post. Angle brackets are angled metal pieces with holes allowing the user to connect two items with screws, nails or bolts. You can buy angle brackets at any hardware store.
Use a cleat to connect two fence panels in an area where there is no post. A cleat is a board or joist that joins two fence panels at the support beams. A cleat should be about three feet long and have the same width and depth as your panel's support beams. Position the centre of each cleat at the point at which the two fence panels meet. Place one cleat directly below the top support beam and one cleat directly above the bottom support beam. Attach the cleats to the support beams with stainless screws or heavy duty nails.
Manufactured fence panels greatly reduce the time required to install or repair a wood fence. Prefabricated panels are available for purchase at major hardware retailers and come in several different styles. You can build a cleat by buying a board with approximately the same dimensions as the support beams on your fence panels and cutting that board with a mitre saw or hacksaw. Most hardware stores will even cut the wood for you.
Cleats are generally not effective for more than two successive panels. Install a new post in an open area requiring three or more fence panels. Be sure that another person steadies a fence panel as you attach it to a post. A falling fence panel can result in serious injury.