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Fences, Gates and Bridges A Practical Manual

Fences, Gates and Bridges
A Practical Manual
Author: Anonymous
Title: Fences, Gates and Bridges A Practical Manual
Release Date: 2018-12-11
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 6
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The transcribers’notes follow the text.


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It is authoritatively stated that the building and maintenanceof the farm fences in the United States have cost more than theconstruction of the farm buildings. Be this as it may, while largenumbers of works have been written upon rural architecture webelieve this is the first publication specially devoted to Fences,Gates and Bridges. It aims to be a practical work, showing the“evolution” of the fence from the road barrier of logs,brush or sods to the latest improved forms of barbed wire. The numerousillustrations are mainly representations of fences, gates, etc., inactual use. The chapter on fence law is necessarily condensed. Thevarious judicial decisions upon the subject alone would fill a largevolume.

This little work, the first and only one of its character, is givento the public in the confident hope that it will prove specially usefulto farmers and village residents.

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  • Chapter I.

    Rail and other Primitive Fences 7–17

    Virginia Rail Fence; Laying a Rail Fence; Staking and Wiring; A Fence of Stakes and Riders; A Pole Fence; Fences for Soil Liable to Heave; Other Primitive Fences.

  • Chapter II.

    Stone and Sod Fences 18–23

    How a Stone Wall Should be Built; Building a Stone Fence; Truck for Moving Stones; Re-inforcing a Stone Wall; A Composite Fence; A Prairie Sod Fence.

  • Chapter III.

    Board Fences 24–30

    Building Board Fences; Fences for Land Subject to Overflow; A Fence-Board Holder; Re-inforcing a Board Fence.

  • Chapter IV.

    Picket Fences 31–42

    A Good Garden Fence; A Southern Picket Fence; Fences of Split Pickets; Ornamental Picket Fences; Rustic Picket Fences; Light Picket Fences; Hand-made Wire and Picket Fences; Fence of Wire and Pickets.

  • Chapter V.

    Barb-Wire Fence 43–61

    Statistics and Forms of Barb Wire; How to Set Barb Wire Fence; Unreeling and Stretching Barb Wire; Wire-Stretchers; Building Wire Fence on Uneven Ground.

  • Chapter VI.

    Fences of Barb Wire and Boards 62–67

    Combined Wire and Board Fence; A Bracketed Fence; Dog-Proof Fence.

  • Chapter VII.

    Hedges 67–75

    The Best Hedge Plants; Planting and Care of Osage Hedges; Hedges for the South; Ornamental Hedges and Screens.

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    Chapter VIII.

    Portable Fences and Hurdles 75–85

    Portable Board Fences; Portable Fences of Poles and Wire; Portable Fences for Windbreaks; Portable Poultry Fences; Portable Folding Fence; Temporary Wire and Iron Fences.

  • Chapter IX.

    Fences for Streams and Gullies 85–95

    Flood Fences; Portable Wire Fence; Watering Place in a Creek.

  • Chapter X.

    Making and Setting Posts 95–117

    Making Fence Posts; A Post Holder; Driving Fence Posts by Hand; To Drive Posts Without Splitting; A Powerful Post Driver; Setting a Gate Post; Live Posts; Mending a Split Post; Hook for Wiring Posts; Drawing Fence Posts; Lifting Posts by Hand; Splicing Fence Posts; Application of Wood Preservatives; Iron Fence Posts.

  • Chapter XI.

    Gates and Fastenings 117–164

    Wooden Gates; A Very Substantial Farm Gate; A Strong and Neat Gate; Light Iron Gates; Self-closing Gates; Gate for a Village Lot; A Chinese Door or Gate Spring; Lifting Gates; Rustic Gates; Balance Gates; Gate for Snowy Weather; West India Farm Gates; Gate Hinges of Wood; Double Gates; Double Latched Gates; Improved Slide Gate; A Combined Hinge and Sliding Gate; Gates of Wood and Wire; A Good and Cheap Farm Gate; An Improved Wire Gate; Taking up the Sag in Gates; Good Gate Latches; Top Hinge of Farm Gate; Gateways in Wire Fence.

  • Chapter XII.

    Wickets and Stiles 164–170

    Iron Wickets; Wooden Wickets; Stiles for Wire Fences.

  • Chapter XIII.

    Fence Law 170–176

    Fencing Out or Fencing In; Division Fences; Highway Fences; What is a Legal Fence? Railroad Fences.

  • Chapter XIV.

    Country Bridges and Culverts 176–188

    Strength of Bridges; Braces and Trusses; Abutments, Piers and Railings; Bridges for Gullies; Road Culverts.




zigzag fence

Fig. 1.—Virginia Zigzag Fence Complete.

The zigzag rail fence was almost universally adopted by the settlersin the heavily timbered portions of the country, and countlessthousands of miles of it still exist, though the increasing scarcityof timber has brought other styles of fencing largely into use.Properly built, of good material, on a clear, solid bed, kept freefrom bushes and other growth to shade it and cause it to rot, therail fence is as cheap as any, and as effective and durable as canreasonably be desired. Good chestnut, oak, cedar, or juniper rails, ororiginal growth heart pine, will last from fifty to a hundred years,so that material of this sort, once in hand, will serve one or twogenerations. This fence, ten rails high, and propped with two railsat each corner, requires twelve rails to the panel. If the fence bedis five feet wide, and the rails are eleven feet long, and are lappedabout a foot at the locks, one panel will extend about eight feet indirect line. This takes seven thousand nine hundred and twenty rails,or about eight thousand rails to the mile. For a temporary fence,one that can be put up and taken down in a Page 8 short time, for making stock pensand division fences, not intended to remain long in place, nothingis cheaper or better. The bed for a fence of this kind should not beless than five feet across, to enable it to stand before the wind. Therails are best cut eleven feet long, as this makes a lock neither toolong nor too short; and the forward end of each rail should come underthe next one that is laid. The corners, or locks, as they are called,should also be well propped with strong, whole rails, not with piecesof rails, as is often done. The props should be set firmly on theground about two feet from the panel, and crossed at the lock so as tohold each other, and the top course of the fence firmly in place. Theythus act as braces to the fence, supporting it against the wind. Bothsides of the fence should be propped. The top course of rails should bethe strongest and heaviest of any, for the double purpose of weightingthe fence down, and to prevent breaking of rails by persons gettingupon it. The four courses of rails nearest the ground should be of thesmallest pieces, to prevent making the cracks, or spaces between therails, too large. They should also be straight, and of nearly evensizes at both ends. This last precaution is only necessary where smallpigs have to be fenced out or in, as the case may be. The fence, afterit is finished, will have the appearance of figure1, will be six rails high, two props at each lock, and the wormwill be crooked enough to stand any wind, that will not prostratecrops, fruit trees, etc. A straighter worm than this will be easy toblow down or push over. The stability of this sort of fence Page 9 depends verylargely on the manner of placing the props, both as to the distanceof the foot of the prop rail from the fence panel, and the way it islocked at the corner.


rail gauge

Fig. 2.

It is much better, both for good looks and economy, to have thecorners of a rail fence on each side in line with each other. Thismay be accomplished by means of a very simple implement, shown infigure 2. It consists of a small pole, eightfeet long, sharpened at the lower end. A horizontal arm of a lengthequal to half the width of the fence from extreme outside of corners,is fastened to the long pole at right angles, near the lower end.Sometimes a sapling may be found with a limb growing nearly at rightangles, which will serve the purpose. Before beginning the fence,stakes are set at intervals along the middle of the line it is tooccupy. To begin, the gauge, as shown in figure2, is set in line with the stakes, and the horizontal arm isswung outwardly at right angles to the line of fence. A stone orblock to support the first

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