How to scallop a fence

Updated May 18, 2018

Homeowners can scallop a wood fence to create a distinct pattern at the top of the structure. The trade-off is some reduction in the privacy the fence provides. The process for scalloping a fence includes determining the scallop depth, making a wood template and cutting the wood. When installed with individual vertical boards, scalloping is less expensive than buying prefabricated scalloped fencing in sections.

Lay the sheet of plywood on a flat surface, like a workbench or across two sawhorses.

Measure four feet from one end of the plywood's 8-foot length to find the centre. Mark it with a dot. This determines the centre of the scallop at the lowest part on a fence line.

Lay the measuring tape across the plywood's 4-foot width on the centre dot. Mark an "X" at a distance for the depth of each scallop. For this example, mark the "X" at the 10-inch mark on the measuring tape, measured from the side of the plywood.

Lay an 8-foot length of quarter-round trim on the plywood, aligning its centre with the "X" mark. Nail the trim on the "X" mark with a hammer so it is held in place but the nail does not go through the plywood.

Bend the left side of the trim to the edge of the plywood on the left side of the board. This will be the left corner of the board nearest the "X" mark. Tack the trim to the corner with a nail and hammer. Repeat this process from the right side of the trim and plywood.

Trace a line on the plywood with a marker to follow the curve of the trim.

Place the claw end of a hammer under each of the three nails. Remove them with the trim.

Cut along the curved outline with a reciprocating saw to create a scallop template.

Hold the template up to a fence section, with the right and left sides touching the top fence line between two corner posts. Trace the dip in the pattern onto the fence board.

Cut along the marking with a reciprocating saw to make a scallop.

Repeat the process of holding the template to a fence section, marking the curve and cutting to form a scallop, until the entire fence is completed.


Deeper scallops provide a better view into and out of a yard, with less privacy. Any item that bends easily and is 8 feet long can be used in place of the trim for drawing a template. It is helpful to have two people hold the template to the fence, with each person tracing the pattern from the ends to the centre. Trim excess length off the template to create a lighter tool for marking the fence.


The depth of a scallop should allow at least 1 inch of a vertical fence board to protrude above the top fence rail. This will allow the shortest vertical board in the centre of each fence section to remain anchored to the top rail.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheet of plywood, 4 feet by 8 feet
  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • 8-foot piece of quarter-round trim
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Reciprocating saw
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About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.