IPE Fence - Best way to build

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Forum topic by rsg posted 07-22-2014 01:07 PM 2488 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1400 days

07-22-2014 01:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: fence ipe

Hi All,
I’m building a fence made from a hard tropical wood like IPE (although will probably choose Cumaru for cost reasons) and I like this design:

Not sure what the best way to execute and would appreciate any suggestions. I am not that experienced but I am thinking of this:

Materials: 4×4 , 1×6 horizontal
1. Rip 4×4 posts in half
2. Dado each side of the 4×4 to fit the 6” board.
3. Glue the 4×4 back together
4. Insert the 1×6 horizontal boards on site

I’m thinking that if done properly once the 4×4 posts are placed in the ground with concrete we would probably not even need any screws like most horizontal slat fences…

If a dado is the answer, and I need to make 180 linear feet of this fence, would I have any issues with the DADO blades wearing out on that hard tropical wood?


5 replies so far

View AandCstyle's profile


3051 posts in 2252 days

#1 posted 07-23-2014 12:42 AM

I would use a router to cut the mortises in the posts, maybe 3/4 to 1” deep. Depending on how level the fence line is I would leave a little extra space at the top of the mortise so the rails can be angled slightly if necessary. Set the first post so it won’t move, then place the second post and cut the rails to length. Put the rails in place and set the second post. Repeat this process until you have reached the final post. The depth of the posts will have to be very carefully controlled to keep the rails mostly level.

Or you could cut all the rails to length and very carefully set the posts at the proper distance from each other. However, I think the key is to work from one one post to the next installing the rails as you go.

Another possibility MIGHT be to set all the posts then bow the rails enough to get them into the mortises. HTH

-- Art

View Loren's profile


10380 posts in 3643 days

#2 posted 07-23-2014 12:53 AM

If you’re gonna spend that kind of dough on wood,
get a mortiser. You’ll be making a lot of work for
yourself and losing wood with all that ripping and
jointing and gluing. You’ll be limited by your clamps

These sorts of mortises are usually drilled and chiseled
on old fences I’ve worked on. You could use a router
but it will make a lot of nasty dust, just like the
resawing will.

If I were doing it I would probably jig up my overarm
router to do it but a mortiser would be an easier tool
to acquire and set up for you and easier to resell
if needed.

You could also probably farm out the mortising to a
CNC shop. Call around.

Tropical hardwoods often make irritating, foul
smelling dust. It is not like cutting pine and ok. It
may get down your shirt and give you a rash.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2685 days

#3 posted 07-23-2014 01:18 AM

I’d make those posts from 3 boards and save a LOT of routing/mortising. You would then have a slot all the way through the posts so could use long rails and bridge 2 posts.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Eric's profile


7 posts in 1401 days

#4 posted 07-23-2014 02:43 AM

Many tropical hardwoods are difficult to glue due to all the natural oil in them and it is generally recommended to not rely solely on glue but have fasteners as well. that being said wiping with acetone to remove the oil right before glue up is an option but on a project this large it’s not really feasible. I would be inclined to simply screw the horizontals to the posts and then plug the holes. U can buy premade plugs in many tropical hardwood varieties. You could even use a different wood (like ebony) for the plugs as an accent. Could look cool. My 2 cents. I am finishing an ipe outdoor dining table with mortise and tenon joinery where I wiped with acetone then TBIII and I’m about to peg the m&t with 2 ss screws each.

-- Living like no one else to later live like no one else

View rsg's profile


2 posts in 1400 days

#5 posted 07-23-2014 03:30 AM

Thanks for the comments! I especially like gfadvm’s solution… Not only do I save on the mortising but 3 1×4’s is about 40% less expensive than the 4×4’s. Granted the final center post is 3×4 vs 4×4 but I think it will look good. Might need to crunch some numbers and see if the budget could step up to 5/4 boards.

Cumaru is not that bad – $1.71 per linear foot for 1×4

The idea is to create a “modern ranch split rail.” I’ll post some pictures as I progress.

thanks again.

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