Fence Post Groove, How?

I am in the process of building a picket fence. I have set my posts and I am moving onto the next part, attaching the stringers. I would like to cut a grove across(Left to right or horizontal)into the 4 x 4 posts that I have set, to set the 2x4 stringer into. What is the easiest and safest way to do this? Using a router or using a Circular saw w/dado or regular blad & chisel? Or what would be recommended? Or forget the groove and get some brackets. Just curious to what other people have done in the past. This is for a small fence only 3ft tall to keep small dogs in a yard.
Thank you for all your help.
Darren
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Forget the groove as you will esentially be reducing the post strength to a 2x4. Measure each lower stringer to fit between each post at the location that it will end up at. Start at the bottom and work your way up. Try to cut the on the slightly long side of the measurement. I usually use 3 total. If you dread toe nailing, you can predrill from the end of the board through to the outer side. Start you nails before placing the stringer and you should be set. A framing nail gun will speed this greatly.
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Leon wrote:

Incorrect on the strenght part. It's still (almost) twice the width of a 2x4. Taking a dado cut out of the face of it will reduce its strength somewhat, but certainly not to that of a 2x4. A well cut dado that nicely fits the 2x4 stringer will result in an increase in strenght resulting in a finished product near the same strength the 4x4 started out with. Not that you need the strength of a 4x4 for a 3 foot fence for small dogs. The OP should be just fine insetting the stringers in the poles.
As to how to do it? I generally do this type of cut with my circular saw. Be precise with your outside cuts and err to the side of tight. You can always trim a little more to get that perfect fit. I don't try to get all of the waste out with the saw - I make most of my cuts about double the kerf apart so that the waste that remains is about a kerf think, and that stuff will usually knock out easily with a hammer. Touch up the resulting cut with a chisel if you need and move on. I would suggest grabbing your speed square (isn't that a swear word in a woodworking group???) and using that as a saw guide for your outside cuts.
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with a chisel if you need and move on. I would suggest grabbing your speed

as
Just curious, why are speed squares a "swear word"? Not precise enough?
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Umm a 4x4, 3.5" square, is the same width of a 2x4 . Cutting out 1.5 inches to allow a flush fit leaves 2 inches of the post to carry the weight.
A well cut dado that nicely

a
that
I confess that I did not read that this was going to be a 3' fence. I build lots of 6.5" tall fences and had that frame of mind when indicating the weakening of the post. A good wind often will break an older 4x4 fence when the fence is 6.5' tall.
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would the 2X4 going into said dado not add the strength back to the 4X4 to almost the level it was pre dado?

a
weight.
in
OP
build
when
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No, because the dado severs wood fibers running the length of the post. That's what weakens it.
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NO...
If you pushed against the post from the side the dado was cut, the post would me more prone to break at the dado than a post with out a dado.
Now if you poly glued the joint the joint would be stronger until the wood began to naturally shrink in the outside elements.
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Gee, I didn't know speed square is a swear word, I have three of them (they get misplaced, borrowed, replaced, and then found). I suppose I'll have to trash them now and just use my Starrett combination square. I hate that because the Starrett makes a terrible skil saw cross cutting guide. Oh well . . . .
The Starrett doesn't get borrowed.
I dado fence posts the same way you do. if I'm concerned about the strength of the post, I might cut a 3/4" deep dado and half-lap the stringers. A cross cut with the skil saw and a Disston rip saw takes care of the half laps. they're not furniture.
OBTW, For the young guys in the group, during my generation's puppy hood, all refrigerators were frigidaires, reciprocating saws were bayonet saws, and portable circular saws were skil saws. :-)
My daddy had an 8" Porter Cable (1960's vintage) that was affectionately known as "the saw mill". Unfortunately, it grew legs and walked out my garage (along with his Rockwell trim saw) :-( It was used to cut the end of roof decking to a straight line. In those days, roofs were decked with 1X8 ship lap lumber instead of plywood.
<snip

speed
as
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Dont young guys call it a Fiigidare instead of an Ice Box?
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Yea,
Your right. Ice box it is.

and
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Darren DeCoste wrote...

My first choice would be a Radial Arm Saw with a dado blade. Next would be a sliding sled on a Table Saw with a dado blade (you said the fence would only be 3' high, so I'm figuring a pretty short 4x4). Then I'd go with a Router and a straight cutting bit, and I'd gang cut them with a straight edge. Probably my last choice would be a circular saw/chisel, but only because it would leave a somewhat messier housing and would take longer - not because of safety concerns. All of the above have the potential to be dangerous, but I wouldn't say overly so if you use the proper safety precautions.
Good luck.
JP
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com says...

Wouldn't trying to move the radial arm saw to each post be quite a pita? Trying to hold the tablesaw w/sliding table on its side and at the proper height to make the cut would be even worse. :=) Notice the OP had ALREADY SET the posts.
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I would say a circular saw and multiple passes, clean up with a chisel but, why not just nail the rails to the posts?
A 2X4 is a pretty big stringer/rail for a 3 ft high fence. I have a 6 ft high fence (pre-made panels) and the rails actual size is something like 1 1/4 X 3.
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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snipped-for-privacy@fellspt.charm.net (Lawrence Wasserman) wrote in message wrote:

Thank you everyone for your input. I am going to try the circular saw and clamp a straight piece to the post as a guide. I have about an extra foot and a half on the post height so I will make a trial cut to see if I want to go this route. This is actually just going to be picket fence. Yes, I could just nail the stringers to the posts but that would take all the fun out of it:) Then the wife would just give me another job to do if I get it done real quick:)
Once again thank you for your imput it is greatly appreciated.
Darren
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