Making Fence Posts by Hand — Part I

We need to surround the grounds with a fence to keep out the critters or we’ll just end up feeding the neighborhood rabbits and deer with our corn, tomatoes, greens, and beets. We have a few choices in fence posts. We could buy 4-×-4-in dimensional lumber but it would have to be treated wood or cedar to last. Cedar is not local and treated wood is full of chemicals. The alternative is black locust. This tree has excellent outdoor properties and lasts longer than either cedar or treated lumber. Earlier residents had planted black locust trees to use for fence posts because they last up to 100 years when properly installed. Our neighbor’s yard is now full of large black locust trees. Luckily the institute grounds have many post-sized trees as well as younger locusts to take their place when we harvest their larger brothers.

I downed a 12-in diameter black locust with an axe and then sectioned it into 8-ft lengths. I then cut these lengths in half. First I ran a stripe with a circular saw on opposite sides and then used splitting mauls to rive the trunks in half. I then stripped the bark off the trunk with a shovel. Once one gets a shovel lip under the phloem under the bark, the whole exterior sheds in long strips.

Tomorrow I’ll discuss how I turned the less-than-straight trunk into posts and installed them in the fenceline.


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