How to Build Shadowbox Fence Panels

lumber - wood image by Jeffrey Zalesny from

Shadowbox fencing, also known as good neighbour fencing, presents a good face on both sides. Unlike typical stockade privacy fence panels, shadowbox panels are identical on both sides. When mounted between posts, they present an attractive face to neighbours while providing security. Pickets for shadowbox panels are typically wider than the pickets on a stockade fence and can be made from any wood, with cedar and treated pine being the most common.

Lay out three 8 foot 2-by-4s as horizontal rails on a pair of sawhorses. Shadowbox fence can be built to any height, but 6 feet is common. Space the rails with the top rail 4 inches from the top of the pickets, the bottom rail 4 inches from the bottom and the middle rail centred between the other two rails.

Attach your first picket, starting at the left end, with one 1 5/8-inch treated deck screw driven in with a cordless drill. Set the left edge of your picket flush with the left ends of the horizontal rails. Check the picket with a framing square to ensure a true 90-degree angle with the horizontal rails and adjust as needed.

Add one screw through the picket into each horizontal rail. Run your screw heads flush with the face of the picket. Avoid countersinking to prevent water from pooling on the head of the screw.

Cut one picket to 4 inches wide on a table saw to use as a spacer. Set this spacer flush against the right side of the first picket you installed. Position a scrap piece of 1-by-4 against the bottom edge of the first picket.

Set your second picket with its bottom flush against the 1-by-4 scrap and its left edge flush against the spacer. Attach the picket as for the first picket, with two screws through the picket into each horizontal rail.

Add six more pickets to this side of the panel for a total of eight. Space each picket with the 4-inch-wide spacer and check every second picket for square.

Turn the panel over end for end so that the first picket you attached ends up on the underside at the right of the panel. Add pickets to this side in the same manner as the first side beginning at the left end, spacing and screwing down each picket as you go. The 4-inch space between pickets will allow the pickets from the opposite side of the panel to show through in 4-inch sections, providing a shadowbox effect.

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