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In this project we will construct an eight foot long by three foot tall simulated wrought iron fence for our graveyard. Build as many sections as you need for the particular size of graveyard you want to create. While this project is fairly easy, it can be time consuming, particularly if you are creating a very large graveyard. The fence sections described below are designed to be attached to graveyard fence columns, but can be easily adapted for other use.

Materials Used Per Section
  2 - 1"x2"x8' Pine Boards
  4 - 1/2"x10' PVC Pipe
  1 - 18"x1/2" Wooden Dowel
22 - 1" Wood Screws
11 - Decorative Plastic Finials
  1 - Semi-Gloss Black Paint
  1 - Hot Glue Stick
  4 - Metal L-Brackets
Tools That We Used
Chop Saw
Wood Clamps
Drill Press
PVC Pipe Cutter
Hot Glue Gun
Electric Screw Driver
Spray Gun and Compressor
Electric Hand Drill

The Frame
There are two pieces to the frame, a top and a bottom. First, we must mark the drill points for the eleven holes with a pencil. Begin by drawing a line straight down the center of one board long ways. Next, starting from the center, make a mark for the center picket, then one every eight inches in both directions for the other ten pickets. Once you have all of the drill points marked, place the marked board on top of the second board and use two or three wood clamps to secure the boards together, one on top of the other.

The clamps are used to make sure that the two boards do not slip apart or become misaligned while they are being drilled.

To drill the picket holes, we used a drill press with a 7/8" spade bit to drill all of the holes, but you could also use an electric hand drill. If you use a hand drill, just make sure that you drill the holes as straight as possible. Once all of the holes have been drilled, you can sand off any rough edges.

The Wrought-Iron Pickets
The pickets are three feet in length and will be placed in each picket hole in the frame. Since each picket is three feet long, you can get three pickets from each ten foot length of pipe. Mark each cut with a pencil or marker and start cutting.

Small diameter PVC pipe like this is very easy to cut using a PVC pipe cutter. This tool is like a big pair of scissors designed for this job and costs under twenty-dollars. You can also use a  hacksaw, but it requires a lot more elbow-grease.

Once all eleven pieces of pipe have been cut to length, you can slide them into the top and bottom pieces of the frame boards that you drilled the holes in. The easiest way to do this is to lay the two boards on edge, on a flat surface and starting at one end, insert the pieces of pipe into the holes one-by-one until they extend three inches above what will be the top board and six inches below the bottom board. Make sure that all of the pipe pieces are evenly aligned in the boards.

Secure the pipe to the board with a dry-wall screw by pre-drilling a hole slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw deep enough to go though the wood and into one side of the pipe. Pre-drilling helps prevent the wood from splitting. Now you can screw a dry-wall screw through the board and into one side of each pipe. The screw only needs to go through one side of the pipe to secure it. We used an electric screw-driver.

The Finials
Pronounced: fin-e-al's, a "Finial" is a decorative piece that is attached to the top of each picket. HooverFence.com sells three different styles of plastic finials that are perfect for giving your fence that old cemetery look.

Plastic finials are a lot less expensive than iron ones and are much easier to work with. For our graveyard fence we went with what is called the "Pawn" version, but you can use any of the three Gothic styles available.

First, cut a 1-1/2" long piece of 1/2" wooden dowel for each picket/finial. These will act as support posts between the finial to the PVC pipe. Next, hot glue a piece of dowel into the base of the finial and then apply some hot glue around the inside of the PVC pipe and insert the finial/dowel into the pipe until the base of the finial rests against the top of the pipe.

Caution - Hot glue guns and the glue is very hot! Wear leather or canvas gloves.

Connecting Brackets
As we mentioned above, these fence sections will be attached to graveyard fence columns (link). To do this, we used simple metal "L" brackets. These brackets come in various sizes and are available at hardware stores. Rather than wood screws, we opted to use nuts and bolts since the fence sections will be used year-after-year.

Before painting, use wood putty or spackle to fill in any cracks, gaps or openings and smooth it out with a putty knife.

The entire section, frame, pickets and finials should be painted with semi-gloss or flat black, exterior latex paint at least two times to insure good coverage and so that the wood is well sealed against weather. It is much easier and quicker to use a spray gun to paint the fence sections than by hand with a brush.

Yard haunters have been building simulated fence like this for as long as we can remember, we would like to thank those who have been building this type of fence for decades.


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