How to attach wooden fence panels to posts

Updated February 21, 2017

Premade fence panels make short work of erecting an attractive wooden fence. They typically consist of two or three running boards, or "runners," and picket or plank infill. They are prefabricated in factories, using jigs, so each panel has perpendicular boards and is the same size as the other panels of the same style. As long as the fenceposts are installed plumb and are spaced the same distance apart as the length of the fence panel, hanging the panels on the posts is a simple job that requires no special tools or advanced woodworking skills.

Place the fence panel on sawhorses or on 2-by-4 planks, runner-side up. Mark positions for two screws in a vertical line, 1 inch from the edges of each runner. Drill pilot holes through the runners and pickets or infill planks. Repeat to drill pilot holes in each panel. Mark a central vertical line on each post for aligning the edges of the top of the fence panels.

Determine the position of the first panel. Hold the ends of the panel against the posts at the desired height, with the edge of the panel aligned with the centre mark on the post. Drive a nail through one pilot hole and about 1/2 inch into the post. The nail will temporarily hold the panel in place while you level the panel and affix the other end of the panel to a post.

Place a carpenter's level on the top of a runner on the backside of the panel. Raise or lower the free end of the panel until it is level. Drive a nail through a pilot hole in the free end of the panel and 1/2 inch into the corresponding post. With the panel in the correct position, begin attaching it to the post.

Attach the panel to the posts using screws, a drill and a driver bit. Remove nails used to temporarily hold the panel in place and install a screw through the pilot hole. To install the adjacent panel, place it against the next set of posts. Align the tops of the panels so the upper fence line will be even. Again, use a hammer and nails to temporarily hold the panel in place while you level and attach the panel with screws.

Repeat until all panels have been installed.


Make sure the diameter of the bit used to drill pilot holes is smaller than the diameter of the screws.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-4 planks or sawhorses
  • Carpenter's level
  • Drill with drilling and driving bits
  • Coated or galvanised screws, 3 inches long
  • Hammer
  • Nails, 3 inches long
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About the Author

Denise Nyland "Denisen" is a long term resident of Panama City, Fla. She studied radiologic sciences and education and has published articles in multiple professional journals and contributed to various educational texts.