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White oak for fence posts  RSS feed

 
Sara Harding
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We have a lot of white oak of different sizes ages and I wondered if anyone used them for fence posts. How long would they last in temperate, southeast climate?
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Think they do well, search the site for "charring" , think there was some info in one of the posts about oak..

these pop up, but think there was a graph somewhere

http://www.permies.com/t/22394/timber/charring-effective-treatment-ground-preservation#183132

http://www.permies.com/t/6380/timber/Untreated-Pine-Poles#172662

http://www.permies.com/t/4738/homestead/motor-oil-preserve-fence-posts#41129
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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If you are able to split the logs, then seeking the larger ones and splitting out the heartwood (darker, in the center of the log), that will make a longer lasting post, in addition to the above-mentioned treatments. But that might be too wasteful, unless you have a use for the lighter colored sapwood (firewood?). Heartwood being more durable is true of most timber species. Also, splitting is preferable to sawing, since the intact grain of the wood resists decay longer.
 
Sara Harding
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Thank you! I think we could square them with a chainsaw, let them season under the open shed, (and, yes, we do heat with wood, so there would be no waste, although you get more btu's in the the heartwood anyway. Maybe I could borrow a chipper and use the scraps as mulch under fruit trees.) and when the fence goes in, pay attention to where the water is going. We have so much red clay. Any that is turned up quickly hardpans. Maybe we could construct the fence line on a raised clay berm, plant it with thyme, and anything else useful that likes dry soil, to prevent erosion. The clay berm would double as a rain harvesting "roof". Water draining on the inside could be used along with other soil building techniques to create a growing area with good percolation and plenty of spongy organic material, mulches, etc. where the rain seeps in without puddling. Rainwater on the outside could be directed to a pond or swale system.
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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If you make a raised berm for the fence line, be sure the posts are long enough to go down into the solid, undisturbed clay beneath. Otherwise they will sag one way or another for sure, especially if any kind of tension is put on the fence whether in building it or afterwards. There's a whole science of fencing, particularly for animal control, involving bracing corners, stretching wires, etc. If your fence is more just a visual boundary, and involves no stretched wire or mesh, these principles might not be so important, but you do want to be sure your posts will stay upright....
 
David Hartley
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On a side note, if you have access to a chipper, the "waste" wood can be used for growing shiitake mushrooms
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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