Making a wood privacy fence private

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So give them something to see and make sure that they know that you know they are watching.
If they drive away quickly when you simply wave, imagine what they'll do if you wave when you're giving them something to see!
If you're too modest to "show" them anything, have your wife choke you or something then pause to give them a wave and then go back to trying to harm you.
That oughta get a reaction out of them.
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If you have a tablesaw with a dado blade, or a router with a rabbeting bit, you can rabbet each edge of the fence boards. Basically a notch half the thickness of the board and about a 1/2" in from the edge. These are also known as "shiplapped" edges.
When you install the boards, you simply overlap the rabbeted edges. As the boards shrink the overlapping shiplapped edges will still cover the gap (up to 1/2" of shrinkage).
Of course, there are two downsides to this method:
1. It will take a fair amount of work to rabbet all the boards for your fence (especially for an 80' fence).
2. You will lose about 1/2" from each board width, so you'll need an extra board every two feet. It's a bit more cost, but no worse than overlapping the boards.
The advantage is the fence is only a single board thickness, which may or may not matter in your fence design.
Good luck,
Anthony
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Peabody says...
> I have a pool in the back yard, and need to replace some > fencing. The standard wood privacy fence isn't really > private because as the pickets dry out, they shrink, and > gaps develop between them, and you really don't have any > privacy anymore.
> One possible solution is to cover over the gaps with > some kind of batten board, but the stuff I found at Home > Despot is almost as expensive as the pickets. I need to > check at a real lumber yard to see what's available in > the way of thin, narrow cedar strips.
> But it looks like the least expensive, and most > effective, solution might be to overlap the pickets. So > I would place the 3.5"-wide pickets 6" apart on centers, > which would leave a 2.5" gap between them, and then nail > another picket centered on the gap. I made a drawing > and posted it here:
> http://drop.io/mnlayq2
> So for my 80' fence, the standard fence would have: > (80x12)/3.5 = 274 pickets
> The overlap fence would have: (80x12)/6 = 160 pickets in > the back row, plus an equal number in the front row, or > 320 pickets in total, or 46 pickets more than standard. > That's roughly $70 additional cost, which isn't all that > much.
> To match that cost, I'd have to find 6' batten strips > for about 25 cents each, which I don't think is likely.
> So whadayathink? Also, exactly how would I nail the > front pickets on? I think the nails shouldn't go > through the back pickets, but directly into the rail. > But should I have a small block of wood in the gap to > nail through?
> Is there a better solution to this?
I wanted to report back on what I ended up doing with this fence. Well I did do the overlapping pickets on the same side of the rails, but with a 2-inch gap between the back row pickets instead of 2.5 inches. So this used a few more pickets than I originally planned. Pictures of the completed fence are here:
http://drop.io/mnlayq2
The fence was built at the top of a concrete wall, and for several reasons I wanted the pickets to be as close to that wall as possible, but I still wanted the front of the fence. So I put the posts right next to the wall, touching it, then the rails behind the posts, but the pickets on the front of the rails. So I ended up seeing the posts, but not the rails. We ended up boxing in each post with pickets, so the posts really just blend in quite well.
I suspect this fence, being heavier, may not last as long as a typical privacy fence, but then I may not last that long either. :-) In the meantime, the privacy fence is private.
If I had lots of time, and a nice table saw with a dado head, the shiplap option would be the elegant way to go. But even so, my calculations show the overlap method used only about 9% more pickets than a shiplap fence built with the same 3.5" wide pickets, and required no milling. So I think it was a reasonable choice.
Thanks for everyone's comments.
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Peabody wrote:

Report back after the next major wind event, please. I'm curious how it handles the wind loading, now that all the cracks are so well blocked.
--
aem sends...

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aemeijers says...
> Report back after the next major wind event, please. I'm > curious how it handles the wind loading, now that all > the cracks are so well blocked.
My fence may not be a good test of that since I'm kinda down in a valley. The old fence was 38 years old, and pretty wobbly, and even it didn't blow over, so I doubt the new one will be subject to a lot of wind loading. But I'll let you know if it turns out to be otherwise.
I have found a couple other similar built fences in town, and they seem to have done ok.
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