I'm trying to build an enclosure that will have pea gravel inside of
it, using 4" by 4" landscape timbers. I have 2 12' long timbers on the
sides, and the ends are each a single 10' timber. Holding the sides and
ends together is easy - drill a hole, then screw a lag bolt in to hold
Figuring out how to hold the 2 12' long timbers together on the sides
is not as easy. They are parallel, not perpendicular, so I can't just
screw them together easily. The only thing I can think of are those
metal plates that they pound on with a hammer. Or, if they even make
this, I could use my drill and drill holes in the ends that go together.
Then, if they have something like a double ended screw, with something
that you can put a square wrench on in the middle, I could screw that
into the end of one, and then turn the other timber until it screws
itself onto the other end of the double ended screw. (hope I'm
explaining myself here) Anybody - does this exist, and if so, what is
On Wed, 06 Oct 2010 08:16:04 -0400, Ohioguy wrote:
Is this all laying right against the ground? If so, can you not join the
12' timbers together only on the underside, recessing whatever you use to
join them together into the ground so that it can't be seen?
I assume you're staking the timbers into the ground with rebar or
something? If so, they're not going to move much under any kind of load,
so whatever you join the timbers together with doesn't need to be *that*
strong, just strong enough for a gap not to open up if you stand on them,
clip them with the mower etc.
The other option might be to create a joint by cutting the end foot or so
of the timbers:
... and then just screwing them together. But that obviously would give
you a 23' length from two 12' timbers, which might not be what you
With something like this, maybe it's worth thinking about how it'll age,
too. The timber will discolor (and maybe split a little), the gravel will
get dirty and full of leaves, and yes there will probably be a little
movement over time. In other words, maybe it's not worth going for
absolute perfection, because in a couple of years there will be various
"faults" anyway, and nobody's going to notice how completely awesome your
original joints were :-)
I'm having trouble picturing what you're trying to do. Are you trying
to stack one timber on top of the other to get an nominal 8" high
enclosure? Then your options include:
1) Screwing through one 4 X 4 into the other, then flipping them over so
you can't see the screws.
2) Screwing one 4 X 4 into the other and saying the hell with seeing the
3) You could sister a vertical 1 X 1 every 3 feet or so and put the side
with the 1 X 1s to the inside of the enclosure. Using the same kind of
wood makes them inconspicuous.
4) You could drill from one into the other, pound a rod into the hole,
then flip them over so the hole can't be seen.
Personally, I like option #3 as it's easy to accomplish with a minimum
of specialized hardware. All you need are some deck screws and some
If your enclosure is going to be two or more rows high, simply overlap your
joints and screw them together. The timber above or below will hold things
together where there are seams.
If your enclosure is only the height of a single 4x4, I would just butt
them end to end, then use 3-1/2" deck screws driven in at an angle to hold
them together. I used this approach with a couple of 4x4's between our
yard and driveway and it has held fine for five years now. No shifting side
to side, and no separation between the two 4x4's. Mine aren't staked to the
ground, but are partially embedded in the ground which keeps them from
being pushed side to side. Of course, there's not a lot a side pressure
from 3" of dirt or gravel.
Several good methods of joinery given.
However, the major thing to do is to stake them down. No joinery is
going to hold something like that in place without staking. I used
1/2" water pipe last summer to run 44' of foundation border. I didnt'
bother to join the ends, just butted them.
since you used the word "best" in the subject line, then i feel
compelled to tell you the "best" way to do this.
Tear out the chincy landscape timbers and use RR ties. Belive me, in a
few years you'll see why.
remove the "not" from my address to email
On Wed, 06 Oct 2010 11:53:48 -0500, Steve Barker wrote:
I don't know if the 4x4" ones are too bad - but HD (at least our local
one) seem to only be selling ones that are more like 3x2" this year, and
they're total garbage. I think they're still $4 each too, which is what
their 4x4" ones were last year.
$12 each here, for the true 4"x4" treated lumber. Calling them
landscape timbers is evidently not the true name, because when I asked
for those, they took me out to the garden area and showed me some junky
rounded things, many of which were warped. I went back to the treated
lumber area inside, and found ones with a nice square edge, not rounded,
which was what I wanted.
Oh, and I found something ALMOST like I wanted at Lowe's, called a
"dowel screw". It has screws on both ends, but does not have a square
part in the middle for a wrench to grab onto, unfortunately. Plus, they
only had them up to 3.5" in length. I'd like one of these that is about
6" long. Then I could simply drill holes in the ends of two timbers,
and screw it into one of them. Then I'd take the end of the second
landscape timber, and turn it onto the other end of the dowel screw.
Eventually, you have a completely hidden screw holding two pieces of
Since I can't find one large enough, I guess I'm going to use a
couple of joiner plates, though.
Just make sure you purchased 4x4's rated for ground contact (it's noted on
the tag). Many of the 4x4's sold in home centers are for decks and don't
have enough chemical treatment to keep them from rotting in the ground.
He might as well drill one, use a dowel locater and matching drill the
other and use whatever chooses and pin them...a short piece of rebar or
Or, since seems insistent on making as much work for as little gain as
possible, cut and fit dovetails or pegged mortise and tenon joints a la
Keep in mind that besides probably being totally unnecessary (others
here have pointed out that simply staking the timbers together will be
more than adequate, or at most drilling holes in the ends and sticking
in a rebar dowel), putting screws into the end grain of wood is a losing
proposition. Screws don't hold well in end grain and will tend to just
pull out after a while.
The fashion in killing has an insouciant, flirty style this spring,
with the flaunting of well-defined muscle, wrapped in flags.
One other possibility... The connectors that are commonly used to hold
sections of countertops together:
A bit more work to install than a few screws, it would be visible unless
you bolted the beams together and flipped them over, and I'm not sure how
it would hold up in an outdoor situation.
I do this with 8 foot landscape timbers all the time........
I cut a section out of each end, like this:
*************** ******************************! ********************************^ ***************
First Piece Second Piece
about three inches back, each section is half way
thru the timber (about 1 1/2 inches) ......
I then overlap them, and drill a one inch hole thru both.
I then make a 2 foot stake out of 3/4 gray electrical PVC and drive
it thru both holes. This not only holds the two ends
together, but also stakes them into the ground...
Sorry if the graphics don't turn out on your
browser. It's very very simple to show if you
have one in front of you....
I also use this technique to use the landscape timbers
for fence rails....
The entire job is done on each piece with about two
cuts of a skil saw, with the depth set correctly...
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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