It Was a Good Thought

So I just got the estimate back from the general contractor on how much it is going to cost to put up a privacy fence to keep the dogs in, and his estimate was somewhere near the price of a car. That means that I get the joy of building it with my sister and her husband with my father hurling insults supervising. I can’t tell you how much this excites me. At any rate, I’m doing an inventory of the tools I have and I know my dad has, and seeing if I need anything else before starting this fail parade, and I found this video:

My favorite comment is “I’m thinking this guy has used up all of his medication and is now operating on pure adrenalin.”

And before you ask, no, I will not be using any power tools at all. That’s just my survival instinct kicking in.

132 replies
  1. 1
    Poopyman says:

    So much opportunity for so much comedy, and now we’ll never see it.

    I haz a sad.

  2. 2

    Wait, are you sure this isn’t the trailer for “The Undefeated”?

  3. 3
    freelancer says:

    How much do pre-dug postholes run these days?

    FFS, John, please be careful.

  4. 4
    Poopyman says:

    @freelancer: I hear you can buy a basement and cut it up to make the postholes. Cheaper that way.

  5. 5
    kdaug says:

    His wardrobe makes the final touch.

    You DO have a monochromatic full-body jumpsuit from the asylum, right Cole?

  6. 6
    Josie says:

    I hope your mother will be stationed nearby with a video camera just in case something interesting happens.

  7. 7
    Cassidy says:

    You will need at least one power tool to cut the metal poles on top, unless your yard extends in exact 10 foot increments. Putting up a fence is actually easy. Which leads too, if you didn’t have a privacy fence before, you don’t need one now. Put up a four foot chain link fence and be done with it.

  8. 8
    John Cole says:

    @kdaug: He had me at “This is a pickaxe. This end is the pick, and this is the other end.”

  9. 9
    Poopyman says:


    I hope your mother will be stationed nearby with a video camera -just in case- every time something interesting happens.

    Edited for higher probability.

  10. 10
    RSA says:

    I love this video. I am amazed that the guy didn’t once say, “Dude.”

  11. 11
    David Fud says:

    Looking forward to the hammered fingers and thumbs on this one. I’m thinking the $250 for a compressor and $200 for a nail gun is a steal compared to broken digits and many more hours in the sun.

    But, I don’t have a smashed shoulder to show for doing it my way, so what do I know?

  12. 12
    freelancer says:

    ETA: Whoops, wrong tab. Yeah this could be a Stooges Reboot

  13. 13
    tamied says:

    I hope you know the number for Disaster DIY.

  14. 14
    geg6 says:

    And before you ask, no, I will not be using any power tools at all. That’s just my survival instinct kicking in.

    Oh, thank FSM, Cole. As I read and realized you plan to build this fence yourself, I was horrified at the thought of you with a power saw. Or a nail gun. Or a hammer, really.

    And knowing how it goes with just your every day household chores, your dad’s hurling insults at you seems mild. He should probably tie you up to a tree and not let you move or get near anything that isn’t already nailed down.

  15. 15
    bemused says:

    Be thankful that you and your fam will build a proper privacy fence as opposed to Todd Palin and his pals.

  16. 16
    MattF says:

    It’s usually a bad sign when a film clip leads me to look up the List of Fictional Ducks.

  17. 17
    Bob says:

    I did this project myself and even cut all the pickets myself becuase the premaid Home Despot fence sections were crap.

    Invest in tools. They will pay for themselves and you will have them for future projects.

    -Airnailer and compressor
    -Miter box/chop saw
    -Lots of glue to make a real stiff fence.
    -Rent a post hole digger

  18. 18
    trollhattan says:

    Speaking of tools, the Dick Whisperer opines Obama “badly bungled” his Israel speech. What a maroon.

  19. 19
    Eric S. says:

    Having installed a 6′ high privacy fence once in my life I must say that renting a powered post hole digger is an absolute must. A must! We were just enclosing a hot tub – maybe 30 to 40 feet in length, and it would have taken us forever to dig the holes manually. The powered post hole digger was worth every last penny we spent. Based on my understanding of your history, John, you may also want to find someone else to operate it.

  20. 20


    It was the voice of Inna Graizel, my daughter’s 21-year-old Israeli au pair, who is spending a year with my family, learning about America.

    Well, Friedman has his cabbies, Bobo has his Applebee’s. Dick Whisperer has his au pairs.

  21. 21
    geg6 says:


    You are familiar with John Cole, right? Are you sure you want him out there in the wilds of WV, running around with an arsenal of power tools? The guy who can’t even mop or take his dog for a walk without ending up in the ER?

    The man has terminal clumsiness.

  22. 22
    negative 1 says:

    You can rent a Bobcat with an auger for digging holes. WAY easier. Go from sweating and hurting to doing it with a beer in one hand. Trust me from experience.

  23. 23
    trollhattan says:

    no, I will not be using any power tools at all. That’s just my survival instinct kicking in.

    I foresee epic tales of hand blisters the size of Connecticut.

  24. 24
    geg6 says:


    I foresee his sister and her husband doing all the work.

  25. 25
    Katie5 says:

    Do JRTs dig holes? A privacy fence is not the same as a fence that keeps dogs in.

  26. 26
    JoyceH says:

    Does it need to be a privacy fence? I just fenced the yard last year, got a three-rail fence with wire backing, and it’s plenty to keep my dog in. The rail with wire is a lot less expensive than those solid privacy fences. Are you also blocking an eyesore or a nosy neighbor, or what? My dog likes the visibility, likes to watch the world go by.

  27. 27
    Trinity says:

    I have much concern regarding this endeavor.

    Also, too.

  28. 28
    p.a. says:

    how much is invisible fence? or is that considered inhumane?

  29. 29
    trollhattan says:


    It does add flavor to the delicious condescension sauce, doesn’t it? I wonder if his daughter and the au pair play “West Bank Land Grab” on Wii?

  30. 30
    Poopyman says:

    @Eric S.: Yeah, this is where I want Mrs. Cole running the video cam when they catch a root with that thing.

  31. 31
    JPL says:

    @p.a.: My neighbors have an invisible fence and the dog is fine. In another neighborhood a few goldens would visit periodically because they got out and were afraid to go back in.

  32. 32
    Jman says:

    We contracted the install of our 6-ft chain link fence for our dogs. We put in the privacy slates ourselves. It is a big investment but it improves the property so it should eventually pay off. The fence was done right, they had to break through lots of rock to get the post holes dug. Contractor was prepared and his crew came in and finished the job in less than two days. We have about 500 feet of fence. We have so much rock that even if the dogs were diggers, they would not get far.

  33. 33
    trollhattan says:


    You could very well be right, but he’ll be out there shampooing the worksite every evening during construction.

  34. 34
    Comrade Mary says:


    I hope your mother will be stationed nearby with a video camera every time something interesting happens.

    Quoted for begging purposes. You can have someone post-process the video later to put Tunch’s face over yours in case that whole privacy thing still concerns you.

  35. 35
    Violet says:

    Make sure you know where any underground utilities are located before you start digging. Call your utility companies and they’ll come out and mark them. You really don’t want to dig and destroy a water or gas line.

  36. 36
    geg6 says:


    You think the Dick Whisperer is bad? Check out what Friedman vomited up this morning:

    Mr. Friedman Unit is all about the snappy slogans.

  37. 37
    Poopyman says:

    @JPL: I’m thinking a JRT wouldn’t give a flying shit about an electric fence.

    This thing only needs to be about 4 feet high, but it’d better go underground by at least 2 feet.

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @negative 1: A bobcat might work. I believe Cole drove a tank back in the day. He might be able to manage this.

  39. 39
    geg6 says:


    True. That Cole. Always with the clean work site. Well, as long as he’s not doing it nekkid. ‘Cuz we all know where that leads.

  40. 40
    trollhattan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Bobcat? What could possibly go wrong? How about a puma?

  41. 41
    jfxgillis says:


    I’m doing an inventory of the tools I have and I know my dad has,

    Uh oh. Knowing you, an inventory of first aid supplies seems also in order.

  42. 42
    geg6 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I’m horrified. I didn’t know they actually let him drive. I mean, really. Would you?

  43. 43
    opal says:

    If you let the dogs out, there will be no end to the questions.

  44. 44
    trollhattan says:


    Good grief. I’m surprised he didn’t suggest they “fix up the old barn and put on a musical.”

  45. 45
    UnkyT says:

    I used to do fencing when I was younger, and I think you are seriously underestimating how much work they are. Use power tools. Go to home depot and rent an auger. I would rather use the power tools and end up with a framing nail through my hand at the end of the day then have to do the entire thing Quaker style. I also love using the cost savings of doing it yourself to justify shiny new tools to the wife.

  46. 46
    Twisted Martini says:

    I concur on the post hole digger, and also the chain fence. Way cheaper and almost no maintenance. Keeps my dogs from wandering the neighborhood and the coyotes out.

  47. 47
    madmatt says:

    Go to this website, order rolls of bamboo fence, cheaper, easier to install and is a nice change of pace from the standard 1×4 plank fencing.

  48. 48
    Twisted Martini says:

    Also, no power tools? Are you Amish?

  49. 49


    I used to do fencing when I was younger…

    I picture Cole out in his white suit, mask and pointy fencing sword. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  50. 50
    bryanD says:

    I suggest piping God Save The Queen over the stereo while building the fence.

  51. 51
    RobertB says:

    If you’re using that two-man powered auger DO NOT LET IT DIG ALL THE WAY INTO THE GROUND. I have three sets of friends make that mistake, and their suffering was legendary.

    Seriously, if ( numberOfHoles > 1 ), you don’t want to be doing that with a posthole digger.

  52. 52
    p.a. says:

    John, have you pre-arranged for someone to come care for the pets after the inevitable injury, whether power tools are used or not? Maybe practice signing checks and insurance forms with your off-hand…

  53. 53
    PTirebiter says:

    @David Fud: Ditto on the nail gun: cheaper faster, better and you can rent one. Or you could just buy the prefab fence panels and home depot delivers. Don’t psych yourself out, it’s not that difficult.

  54. 54
    Poopyman says:

    @RobertB: Uh, what’s it supposed to dig in, if not the ground?

  55. 55
    Libby's Person says:

    Electric fences can cause behavior problems to get worse because they work through punishment. If a dog sees another dog, for example, and gets a shock when he tries to go say hello, an association of “other dog = pain” starts to form, which gets stronger every time it happens. If a dog already has some fear or aggression issues, the shock reinforces that fear or aggression, and the dog can become dangerous. And if the dog isn’t trained to the fence properly (which commonly happens), other problems can happen. I know one dog whose owner got impatient with the training, the dog learned to be afraid of the yard, and started pooping in hidden corners of the house rather than in the scary yard.

    A passive, old-fashioned fence is much better for the dog. It will need to have wire mesh extending at least a foot underground, however, to contain a JRT!

  56. 56
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Hey, watch it.

  57. 57
    Eric S. says:

    When we rented the post hole digger there were two models with different power ratings. The numbers don’t matter but one could get caught in roots the other would cause the Earth to spin backwards. The cost difference was maybe $5 per hour.

    More power!

    Again, the caveat the JC should find someone else to operate it. Here in Chicago I’d suggest hiring one of the day workers from the local home improvement store parking lot. I have no idea if there are many day workers hanging out in WV parking lots at 6am.

  58. 58


    you know when the body of the opinion is some personal story about someone you are supposed to feel something about, that the story, and the opinion, is bullshit.

    no one does that, when they have a strong case. its the op-ed version of, to be honest….

    as to mr. cole’s project. i had a coach once who used to give a speech to high school football players, frosh, jv, varsity, everyone, after practice, right before school, about how you aren’t a man until you build a wall.

    at the time, it was inspiring stuff. the next few times, it was lame as hell. this was before the “promise keepers” movement, but from what i hear, coach’s bit was so hackneyed it made it into one of their diatribes.

  59. 59

    OT, but we’re now in day 3 of outbreak II: the tornadoening, around KC atm. Supposed to be worse as afternoon progresses.

  60. 60
    Rainy Day says:

    Not sure about your height requirements, but a lattice fence may be much easier for you to build and much more inexpensive. You just have to make sure you have a solid base that the critters can’t dig under. Or, you can line the fence with big rocks.

    Also, if you just need a spot outside a door to let them out to pee/poop, you can build a small fenced in area for under $1K, probably half of that. You don’t need to fence in your entire yard; you just need a safe, sequestered area for them to do their business. Besides, you won’t them trampling through your garden.

  61. 61

    @Eric S.:

    the other would cause the Earth to spin backwards

    Now THAT would be awesome!

  62. 62
    Eric S. says:


    You really don’t want to dig and destroy a water or gas line.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I work at a natural gas utility and this is a continual issue. Gas lines often go BOOM when you break them.

  63. 63
    YellowDog says:


    What Katie5 said. My neighbor has a privacy fence and her Dachshunds always come under the fence to greet me.

    Also, if you don’t rent a post hole digger, make sure that you have the two-handled version shown but not discussed in the video. Unless you are digging in hard clay, it makes the job much easier than the shovels.

    As for compressors and nail guns, I advocate for those if you are building a wooden fence. I have both, as well as several Paslode nail guns. The Paslode guns are good for small jobs or awkward sites where you cannot use a compressor–the cost of the gas canisters and specialty nails are too high for a job of this size.

  64. 64
    srv says:

    I have to tell you John, one of my favorite outdoor projects was helping on a picket fence with 200+ pickets around a pair of houses. Each picket was point cut, edge chamfered, primed, painted and screwed so the picket points could be aligned perfectly. 20 post holes including two driveways and two gates (all pickets), all with basic post-hole digger.

    This was a revitalized (gentrified) neighborhood in the early 90s. Folks kept walking by and asking us how much we’d charge do their house. At one point, we just said $5000, and the guy replied “when can you start?”

    Fences were some serious dough, even back then.

  65. 65
    Cat Lady says:

    John, there’s a lot of fencing and lumber lying around in Missouri and Oklahoma not being used anymore if you wanted to take a road trip. Too soon?

  66. 66
    ChrisS says:

    I’ve got an old wire fence around the yar that came with the house. The cedars do most of the privacy work and the dog doesn’t seem to have much interest in getting out. He actually sits in front of the chain link gate portion just to watch the world go by.

    He does dig in my herb/seed starter garden. The little shit.

  67. 67
    RobertB says:

    @Poopyman – Key words there are ‘all the way’, not ‘ground’. If you let the auger dig all the way to the motor, two people can’t lift it out because of all the dirt stuck in the auger. Sometimes you can turn it backwards to unscrew it from the ground, but sometimes you end up having to dig it out.

  68. 68

    @RobertB: Why doesn’t an auger have a reverse?

  69. 69
    Poopyman says:


    Now THAT would be awesome!

    Not when you’re hanging on for dear life, and the guy on the other side is too panicked to release the throttle.

    Never happened to me, but I sure as hell hope there’s video when it happens!

  70. 70

    Looks like there’s a good bit more to that Newt Gingrich-Tiffanny credit card story. Waaay more:

    Gingrich wife worked for committee heavily lobbied by Tiffany
    At the same time Tiffany & Co. was extending Callista (Bisek) Gingrich a virtual interest-free loan of tens of thousands of dollars, the diamond and silverware firm was spending big bucks to influence mining policy in Congress and in agencies over which the House Agriculture Committee–where she worked–had jurisdiction, official records show.

  71. 71
    Poopyman says:

    @Cat Lady: I have a feeling that with a couple more days of this weather it’ll be in W. Va. anyway.

  72. 72
    geg6 says:


    He’s picturing that old Sixties CBS footage of the hippies putting flowers in the barrels of the National Guard’s rifles. I just know it.

    And by the way, taking the age of so many Teabaggers into account, this video sorta explains their predilection for wearing costumes while being a part of a largely incoherent mob.*

    *And before any old hippies get pissed and start telling me about being too young to understand, realize that I had two siblings who graduated HS in 1967 and 1969, my current SO graduated in 1964, and that I’m 5 years older than the current president. I remember the times well.

  73. 73
    bkny says:

    @geg6: i have nothing more to add to this…. lol

    please have your dad videotaping this… with all the critters helping, of course.

  74. 74
    ChrisS says:

    @Eric S.:
    I work for an environmental remediation consulting firm.

    We had one site where the previous consultant had scheduled a utility locator. They came out and marked out the 24 IN (?) high pressure line. Problem was that the line bent downwards at about 45 degrees where the land sloped downhill. Somehow this wasn’t explained properly to the backhoe operator doing the test pits. As he scraped the soil back towards him (above the slope) he started digging into the slope and met resistance. Thankfully, for his sake, he immediately stopped and hand cleared. Oops

  75. 75
    geg6 says:

    @Southern Beale:

    And Sarah Palin is pouring over that report and screaming at her minions, wanting to know why the hell she doesn’t have a sweet deal like that.

  76. 76
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:


    One word: Dynamite.

  77. 77
    geg6 says:

    I know I shouldn’t, but I’m dying to click on the sidebar ad that says “Should Sarah Run?”

    Please, please, please, please let her run. I’ll say something nice about growing up Catholic if this one wish is granted.

  78. 78
    RobertB says:

    @arguingwithsignposts – I think the fancier ones do, the basic ones don’t. I’ve been pretty lucky and have avoided any home improvement jobs that have needed this – the few times I needed postholes dug, I only needed one or two dug at a time and used a manual one.

  79. 79
    kdaug says:

    @Southern Beale: Had a funny feeling there was more to this story…

  80. 80
    Scott P. says:

    That clip looks like it comes from an instructional video on how to dispose of the bodies.

  81. 81
    Tsulagi says:

    Make sure you take pics and post them of the finished fence. That should be good for a few laughs.

    Doing a fence is definitely one of the easier home projects. It’s not furniture building or finish carpentry. You don’t need a power post hole digger. I have about an acre lot and for fence posts and deck footings just used a hand post hole digger; about $30 at a Home Depot. Each 2’ hole for a fence post takes only a couple of minutes. Actually prefer using that over a power one.

    You don’t need to sink those fuckers 10’ deep. With a standard 8’ 4×4 post, having 2’ of it below ground in concrete leaves 6’ above, about the right height for a fence.

    You can save a little money using pressure treated lumber over cedar for the framing. The incised (you see perforations) stuff lasts forever. Non-incised does look better, though.

    Can understand your aversion to power tools given your history, but if some adult could help you out, just using a chop/miter saw and an air compressor with at least a 15ga. nail gun would save a lot of hours.

  82. 82
    Eric S. says:

    @ChrisS: 24″? That’s a big un!

    About a decade ago a work crew broke one of those here in Chicago. There were issues getting it turned off for reasons I don’t recall now. The gas was whistling out of the pipe for a good long while. 30 minutes? More? Again I don’t exactly recall. Before the gas was shut off it blew up. The fireball engulfed the side of a midrise retirement home.

    I asked one of our field guys (I’m IT) what would cause it to blow after so long. He told me the gas comes out of high pressure lines so fast that they will self spark.

    The good news is the retirement home had been evacuated well before the explosion.

  83. 83
    Maude says:

    The privacy fence will get built and Rosie will shoot out the front door on her way to freedom.

  84. 84
    Trabb's Boy says:


    You don’t have to do this. Really. Get a pre-made kennel, as big as you want, with digger protection, and attach some kind of tunnel from a dog door to the kennel then never worry about Rosie begging to go out again.

    Of course, you’ll have to worry about her barking at everyone, but one thing at a time.

  85. 85
    stuckinred says:

    Get a post level,phd, and use screws and a drill to fasten the frame to the posts and slats to the frame. If you fuck up you just back the screw out and reset.

  86. 86
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Scott P.:

    That clip looks like it comes from an instructional video on how to dispose of the bodies.

    Or The Gnomes’ Guide to Digging for Wealth.

  87. 87
    stuckinred says:

    @Tsulagi: Don’t send him toward a nail gun, too much firepower. It’s way harder to get hurt with a drill and screws (as you obviously know).

  88. 88
    RobertB says:

    @Poopyman – my brother was tilling my grandma’s garden with a big Troy-Bilt front-tine tiller, and let it walk into untilled ground. It started dragging him across the yard, with him too panicked to let the throttle go. It dragged him clear to my _other_ brother’s car, where it ran into the fender and walked up the side of the car for a bit until the tiller fell over sideways. Seemed funny to me, but those two didn’t have much of a sense of humor about it.

  89. 89

    @stuckinred: You knew that PhD would come in handy sometime. :)

  90. 90
    Shibby says:

    Get an invisible fence. They are cheap to install yourself and you can let Tunch outside as well with entertaining consequences.

  91. 91
    birthmarker says:

    @YellowDog: These comments bring to mind a horrible memory of my spouse’s. His father would make him dig post holes with the two-handled manual digger, which is like 48 inches in length. He had to dig all the holes til the ENTIRE post hole digger would fit into the hole, flush to the ground. He said not so much as a quarter inch could extend out of the hole! I believe he’s always been traumatized by the experience…(BTW we live in a part of the country where the winter frost line is a nonissue.)

  92. 92
    stuckinred says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Yea, if only I hadn’t gotten this EdD!

  93. 93


    the other would cause the Earth to spin backwards

    Am i the only one who sees the joke there? SUperman, anyone?

  94. 94
    stuckinred says:

    @birthmarker: Marine huh?

  95. 95
    stuckinred says:

    We just got to take the dogs on the Trolley Car Tour of Savannah! We were talking yesterday and I told my bride when we die and SHE goes to heaven all our dogs will be there and they’ll say, “you dragged our asses everywhere and all we wanted to do was sleep’!

  96. 96
    trollhattan says:

    Am I correct that Chez Cole is a rental? Who puts up thousands of dollars of fencing on a rental?

  97. 97
    Akadad says:

    I hope Cole has health-care insurance.

  98. 98

    @trollhattan: No, iirc he bought a while back.

  99. 99
    Han's Solo says:

    Ah, the fence projects. I have a lot of dogs, and have had many fence problems in the past. Let me share a few things.

    1) Don’t stop at one estimate. The cost of getting a fence installed varies a great deal. But if you insist on doing it yourself…

    2) Make it dog proof. If you have a big powerful dog, or a small and crafty one, or just a dog with a super powerful prey drive, they will constantly be testing your fence. I bought my house in 2008 and replaced my entire fence soon after purchasing. If I’d known then what I’m about to tell you I’d have been a lot happier.

    3) Gate: On your gate you should install a catch on the bottom as well as the latch you open it with. Why? Because dogs will often push at the bottom of your gate with their nose trying to get a better smell of whatever is in your front yard. This can cause gate sag and, if ignored, can give your little Houdini a way out.

    4) The base of the fence: This will be your bane. If your dog can get it’s nose under the fence planks your dog can tear it up and literally rip a hole in your fence. How do you stop this? For me the easiest and cheapest way involves getting ceder 1by2s and screwing them onto the fence at the very bottom. This lends strength to the fence so that your dog can’t go plank by plank.

    5) The base of the fence part deux: Some dogs like to dig under the fence. There is no easy way to stop this. I’ve stacked rocks along the base, but I doubt that will stop them the next time an opossum meanders by. What I wish I’d done when I had the fence installed is put pavers, bricks, or any other flat rock/cement directly under the planks. This way they don’t just have to dig under a half inch think cedar fence plank, they have to dig under a 12 inch cement/rock/whatever obstacle. It is the difference between digging a hole and digging a tunnel.

    I hope that helps. I’m guessing you don’t have as many dogs as I and you don’t foster, so you probably won’t have as many fence issues as I. Most people don’t. Sigh…

  100. 100
    birthmarker says:

    @stuckinred: In spirit only.

  101. 101
    YellowDog says:


    Been there. It builds character, and your shoulder muscles.

  102. 102
    tamied says:

    @trollhattan: No, he’s a home owner now.

  103. 103
    stuckinred says:

    @YellowDog: it’s good training!

  104. 104
    trollhattan says:

    @Han’s Solo:

    5) The base of the fence part deux: Some dogs like to dig under the fence. There is no easy way to stop this. I’ve stacked rocks along the base, but I doubt that will stop them the next time an opossum meanders by. What I wish I’d done when I had the fence installed is put pavers, bricks, or any other flat rock/cement directly under the planks. This way they don’t just have to dig under a half inch think cedar fence plank, they have to dig under a 12 inch cement/rock/whatever obstacle. It is the difference between digging a hole and digging a tunnel.

    A subgrade hogwire “curtain” will do the trick, although it means even more digging to install. Li’l doggies would probably be stopped with chicken wire.

  105. 105
    trollhattan says:


    I lost track with the last move. He’s such a fussbudget with the cleaning I assumed he’d remodel a rental house simply because he woke up one day and had to.

  106. 106

    1. Call another contractor. That being said, doing a 110′ stretch of fence cost me about $3500, and it wasn’t getting any cheaper than that.

    2. It took my guy, with two laborers, three days. A fairly straightforward install in hard, but rock-free soil. I know construction backwards and forwards, and have no predilection to self-injury, but it would have taken me at least three weeks, easily (I do have a day job that cannot be ignored).

    Don’t do this, John. You have a history of clumsiness and injury, a shattered shoulder joint, and are by your own admission in your forties, overweight and out of shape. I don’t know what part of that doesn’t spell “disaster waiting to happen” to you, but it does to me. Just hire some guys and sit on your porch with a beer and make sure they do it clean.

  107. 107
    Church Lady says:

    I recommend the getting more than one estimate advice. It’s amazing how big of a price difference there can be between contractors. We replaced our fence about five years ago, and wound up going with treated pine rather than cedar because the price difference was pretty large. We’ve got a pretty big back yard and a 6 foot privacy fence in treated pine wound up running around seven thousand. It would have been closer to ten if we had gone with the cedar and the treated pine holds up better over time.

  108. 108
    Han's Solo says:

    @trollhattan: That would do the trick nicely.

    But here in Austin digging a hole (unless you are a dog apparently) is a royal pain in the ass. There are so many rocks in the ground, and the ground has so much clay, that I’ve spent hours just digging a single hole. I figured if I was having so much trouble I wouldn’t have to worry about my dogs digging under the fence. My catahoula / pit rescue dog, however, has a hunting drive unsurpassed by any creature that doesn’t exist solely in science fiction films.

  109. 109
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    When do we get a thread on the weather? I know the weather is usually a crap subject for conversation, but this is getting pretty crazy. Either Allah is really, really pissed at us or Jehovah really does hate gay marriage but can’t aim worth shit.

  110. 110

    @Cassidy: if you didn’t have a privacy fence before, you don’t need one now

    Do what now? You only need one if you already had one?

  111. 111
    kuvasz says:

    Your best, most cost effective way to corral your dogs is to use t-posts (@$3/per) every 8-10 feet, 5ft high,12-gauge wire(@$85/per 100ft). The cost will be about $1.5-2/linear ft.

    I suggest that you buy a t-post hammerer @ $50, too.

    You can knock out a fence of this sort of 1000 linear feet in two days working alone.

    I’ve had to do this several times to fence in my dog pack over the past 20 years.

    Going with a fencing company that uses a five foot tall chain linked galvanized steel material will cost you about $10/linear foot.

  112. 112
    geg6 says:

    OT, but this should be interesting:

  113. 113
    birthmarker says:

    Our golden retriever mix would dig out b/c of fear of storms, and we had to electrify the chain link fence, which works like a charm. I would go with chain link and electrification if necessary.

  114. 114
    John Weiss says:

    @negative 1: I think John doesn’t much need to be running around in a bobcat. The mind boggles at the potential destruction.

  115. 115
    Martin says:

    No power tools? You’re a better man than I, Cole.

  116. 116

    @Libby’s Person:

    Electric fences can cause behavior problems to get worse because they work through punishment.

    There is great wisdom in this.

    We got an electric fence for our two pointer-lab mixes. They trained very well to the fence, and they now truly know their boundaries — to the extent that we were able to take off the shock-collars a few months after the training ended.

    But the problem arose — months later, mind you — when we burned some hamburgers on the broiler and set off the smoke alarm. The shock collars provide a little electronic beep to warn the dog that she’s too close to the fence, and to get back into “safe” territory. The electronic beeping of the smoke alarm triggered exactly the same fear reaction, and we had two extremely frightened pups on our hands who thought they were about to get zapped — and who had no idea how to prevent it. It was quite sad to see.

    When we first got the fence, in the spirit of inquiry I zapped myself with a shock collar, just to see what we were dealing with.

    It ain’t trivial. Yowwww!

  117. 117
    trollhattan says:

    @Han’s Solo:

    My dog’s not so much escape-minded as reeeally interested in whatever is on the other side of that fence right now. She’s not shy about scratching space enough under the kickplate to peer under, but never goes further than that. A little shovel of dirt and the space is filled in until next time.

    But at one spot along the fence my little shovels of dirt were not filling the gap and after a ridiculous amount I got out a ladder and peered over the other side, to see a hole the size of a major appliance had been excavated by the neighbor’s dogs. They weren’t motivated to fill it in so I had to do the wire trick on my side.


  118. 118
    Commish says:

    Thanks for the video, that guy is awesome. And actually, it looks like he builds a decent fence.

    Last time I had a fence built was 10 years ago, but as other have said, bids varied widely: from $3000 to $7000 for our project, all the same specs. I’d get a couple more bids.

  119. 119
    Anne Laurie says:


    Put up a four foot chain link fence and be done with it.

    Quoted for mother-loving TRUTH. The color-coated versions (ours is black) visually ‘disappear’, and they make fine trellis if you want to plant vines. (Hell, plant Virginia creeper along the base, you’ll get all the privacy you need & a spectacular color display every fall.) The dogs will still bark at every squirrel, passing car, and falling leaf, but they won’t freak out & go into attack mode the way some do when they can hear but not see ‘intruders’ on the other side of a privacy fence. If you end up living with a dog who digs, you can put pavers along the baseline as needed.

  120. 120
    Han's Solo says:

    @trollhattan: Then you are lucky. My dogs really, really like to kill opossums. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen opossums, but they are nasty. And when attacked they have anal glands that push out a substance that smells like dead, decaying road kill.

    I would have to sink the barrier well under the fence for it to work on my dogs. But then, honestly, nothing has worked so far. I just have to do regular fence maintenance.

  121. 121
    Stuart Katz says:

    Mr. Cole, have you considered getting an invisible fence? I have had them for years with three different dogs (including two huskies who were very inclined to run away). They work perfectly and they’re much cheaper than a physical fence.

    At first I felt bad about zapping the dogs, but (1) it’s not that bad (I’ve zapped myself on purpose), and (2) once they get the message they will never venture near the line.

  122. 122
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Neddie Jingo:

    But the problem arose—months later, mind you—when we burned some hamburgers on the broiler and set off the smoke alarm. The shock collars provide a little electronic beep to warn the dog that she’s too close to the fence, and to get back into “safe” territory. The electronic beeping of the smoke alarm triggered exactly the same fear reaction, and we had two extremely frightened pups on our hands who thought they were about to get zapped—and who had no idea how to prevent it. It was quite sad to see.

    Yeah, we have two expensive Oreck air filters we can’t use, because dust hitting the grids makes a little bug-zapper noise that drives our rescue dog into a mad panic. He’s an incorrigible runaway, and I suspect that at some point his original owners tried the invisible-fence option, and only succeeded in convincing him that the tzzztz noise was hella dangerous.

    Electric fences, used correctly, work for probably 80% of ‘normal’ dogs. For those with high prey drives, distractability, or strong ‘roaming’ impulses, they just amp up the crazy.

  123. 123

    @Anne Laurie:

    Electric fences, used correctly, work for probably 80% of ‘normal’ dogs.

    I’d guess that’s about right. Our guys — littermates from the shelter — have such a strong pack instinct that roaming wasn’t really that big a problem for us to begin with. But we’re rural with lots of critters about, and Ella would occasionally succumb to the temptation to bring back large chunks of rotted deer carcass to chew joyfully on the lawn.

    “Ella, where did you get that disgusting thing?”

    “Oh, up the hill a little bit. Don’t it look just scrumptious?”

    “Uh, yeah. Now let’s go inside and give Mommy a big kiss!”


  124. 124
    trollhattan says:

    @Han’s Solo:

    We’ve got possums and worse, skunks and raccoons, but the dog’s inside at night when they do most of their wandering so it hasn’t been a problem for us, luckily. Her bête noire is squirrels, which drive her half-mad by their very presence and some take it up a notch and taunt her directly. Such a vertical leap on that dog, not to mention pretty decent tree-climbing ability.

  125. 125
    Han's Solo says:

    @trollhattan: Yeah, they mostly come out at night, mostly. (I’m quoting Aliens)

    I have a dog door, I usually close it at night, but when I forget… My neighbor woke me at 3 AM one morning because my dogs tore a hole in the fence and were in his back yard. Another morning they were missing, not upstairs, not downstairs, not in the back yard. But when I opened my front door and called them they came running. Let me tell you, that is a bad thing to wake up to.

  126. 126
    RobertB says:

    @kuvasz – I put one of those around my pond when my daughter started walking, to keep her out of the pond. They are inexpensive and easy to install, but kind of suck aesthetically. Not that chain-link is all that lovely, but t-post fencing seems a step below that.

  127. 127
    Seanly says:

    How much linear feet of fence do you need to build? 6′ wood privacy fence should be about $12 to $15 a foot (and for a large amount they should throw in at least one gate). You could also go with wood just on the front/high visibility and then much cheaper chainlink the rest of the way. Vinyl fencing usually weathers nicely but is expensive.

    My recommendations are the following (assuming 6′ wood fence):
    1) use Quikrete Fast Setting at every post (some folks foolishly just concrete the corners). This stuff is great – put post in hole, pour in dry mix & a little water. Use a short length of thin rebar to mix it a little. Stuff sets quick and will cure rest of way from moisture in ground.
    2) in your area, put your holes down probably 3′ if not 4′ – use a gas-powered auger.
    3) if you use 4×4 posts, consider using larger size at gates to help avoid sag. For bigger gates, might want to get those professionally framed. Nothing is worse than a useless bound-up gate.

  128. 128
    alicia-logic says:

    I’ve seen lots of good fence advice from experienced dog owners which I will not repeat except to say:

    1. As someone who fences her horses IN their paddocks, her dogs OUT of the horse paddocks and her dogs in their own yard, I can only concur that post-hole diggers are your friend.

    2. As a long-time owner of high-drive dogs, jumpers and diggers (Doberman and AmStaff) I recommend a both/and strategy: physical fence + invisible fence.

    The physical barrier prevents the run-through you get when using invisible fence-only with high-drive dogs and the invisible fence on a short-range setting will keep the jumpers and diggers off the physical fence-line.

    You still need to do the recommended intro training so the dog can learn the beep range of your fence.

  129. 129
    IrishGirl says:

    Yes, oh my yes, John you HAVE to wear the jumpsuit, and it has to be that yellowish, institutional vomit color. And do you think you can tease your hair into a fro? If not, then get a wig. Seriously.

    In re: to digging fence posts, if you do it manually and if the ground is as stony in WV as it is in PA (which I would assume it is), you are going to be in a world of hurt my friend. Use a post hole digger SUPERVISED of course :) Best of luck!

  130. 130

    Figure out what you make per hour and see if that makes any sense versus a pro. It isn’t rocket science but it isn’t easy, either.

    Just a note, cedar stains from galvinized fasteners, stainless doesn’t but is not cheap. It isn’t a huge deal, but a consideration. Make some jigs for spacing and height for hanging pickets to save time and grief. Make sure you have plenty of #2 phillips bits if you use power drivers, if you use nails, ring shanks are a good idea. Fasteners need to be 1/4″ shorter than total material thickness.

    Power augers require two stout healthy adults – think about that.

    I think a pro is a better idea, but…

  131. 131
    bad dad says:

    From our experience:

    1. Keep the posts as far away from trees as possible. Our neighbors planted five poplars right on the side of the property with our fence and the roots have fucked up the post angles. The fence sags horribly on that side.

    2. If you have the alternating slat wood fence going up in sections, set up a spray painting station and blast the sections with layers of waterproof stain the week before installing. Painting a standing alternating slat fence by hand once it is up is a summer killer.

    3. I cannot emphasize the waterproof stain enough. a naked wood fence will go grey within a year or two. The stain on our fence is still going strong after 14 years.

    Good luck and always wear eye protection.

  132. 132
    mvr says:

    FWIW, You ought to be able to do this with hand tools as you’ve planned, just so your saw is sharp. And very nice old Disston (or Atkins) crosscut saws that are still sharp from the last time in the 1960s that some now dead codger sharpened it, are easy to find at garage sales for under ten bucks. (That’s how I wound up with seventy odd saws in my basement.)

    There are further tricks that someone upthread has no doubt revealed already. Like if you’re setting poles in concrete you can pour it dry around the post and the moisture from the surrounding earth will wet it enough to activate it and allow it to cure to the post, at least in most places. And since the drier the mix is, the harder the concrete cures, you wind up with very firmly attached posts.

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