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Jackleg (aka Bucj, others?) fencing

 
Posts: 352
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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I have an area that is 30 feet wide and about 60 feet long (triangle) that has  an existing board fence on 2 sides, and just field on the third side.  The idea is to put up two jackleg fences for the deer.  Not necessarily the same size.  If nothing else, this gives me practice in building jackleg fence.

In a jackleg fence, you have two logs that form an X, and you have about 1.5 feet of log above the crossing point of the X.  On one face ("leg") of the fence, you mount logs for rails.  Well, you can make it out of fancy lumber if you want, I am going to make mine out of aspen.  It is a fence design which does not require post holes.

Making it from logs, I have read that a person makes a sort of half lap on one of the two post logs.  You lay one log on the ground, and then lay its mate across it like it would be standing, and you mark the logs for the intersection.  You take the top log off, and one of those two logs you need to machine.  A modern person talked about a reciprocating saw.  Older writeups talk about multiple saw cuts (to varying depths) and then either whack the wood out with a hammer, or use a chisel  to get a nice profile.

You put the two logs back together as an X, and "fasten" them.  In the old days, fasten meant use big nails.  Never just one nail in things I've read.  In one writeup, they said it is better to use galvanized steel wire to tie this X joint, because with time the wood shrinks and this allows you to tighten the joint.  However, the only description is "galvanized steel wire", no mention of size.  I am not a big believer in nails, and typically use screws for things.  If you have two six inch thick logs and a sort of half lap joint, you probably still would want at least 5 inch screws.

Okay, once you have an X (well, two X), you can start to put "rails" on the fence.  These fences have a preferred direction.  If you are trying to keep deer out, the rails go on the "outside".  Most of the people writing this up, are trying to keep cattle in, and so they talk about closely trimming all branches off the logs used to fasten to the "X" post.  I would think that if the purpose is to keep out deer, having ragged branch trimming would be better.  For one person, the maximum length of log for rails worked out to be 25 feet.  Again, the rails typically were just nailed to the post(s).

There is a noticeable slant to the plane of the rails.  To keep deer out, that bottom rail needs to be in the vicinity of 9-10 inches off the ground.  If you are working on topography with lots of changes in slope, you may be forced into shorter rails to keep from having places where deer can crawl underneath.  

For me, there are lots of aspects of design missing.  Some proponents of slant fencing, insist that 45 degrees is best (with no references or proof).  It seems likely to me, that jackleg will have an angle in the vicinity of 60 degrees; which means a 4 foot tall fence has about 2 feet of "depth" to it.

The various bodies interested in having deer cross fences, but not cattle, propose a maximum height to the top of the top rail from the ground as 42 inches.  People talk about a 4 foot tall jackleg fence as needing 5 foot long posts.  Which suggests to me, that the top rail is on top of the pivot of the X.

If an animal is being chased and crashes on the fence, what happens?  If a tree falls on the fence, what happens?

Both questions are meant in the context of what damage happens to the fence, and how can one repair this?  My feeling is that nails just bend in either circumstance, and at best you will have to use new nails.  Looking at some strength ratings for galvanized steel wire not intended to be described as high tensile fencing wire, I think that if one uses that kind of wire to wrap the pivot of a set of X posts, that the most likely outcome is that the wire snaps.  And I don't know what the answer is for screws.  If nothing else, it probably depends on what screw you are using.  But I have been replacing broken boards in my board fence, with boards that are screwed on  (2 long screws from the face, and on the back side a 90 degree angle with 4 screws (about 1.5 inch).  To have a tree fall on the fence and break boards, I can often end up reusing all of the screws.  Sometimes those 90 degree corner braces get bent, but you can usually straighten them.

I suspect much of this summer will be spent fencing.  There is a patch where the junkpole design makes a lot of sense (except that I could have big trees fall on it).  But most of my fenceline is in fair shape, and so adding a jackleg for a second fence about 3-4 feet off the barbed wire fence makes sense.  I am thinking about string a wire on the top of the leading X post, which I gather could lead to a lot of deer injuries.  The power/telephone comes onto my property on a slanted lead, and it crosses my property line at about a 20 degree angle.  It seems the only solution I can put there is a fence, and junkpole might work there, except that I will have to rebuild it from time to time.  Maybe if I grow black locust or osage orange poles, it will last longer.

Most farms around here use barbed wire on posts.  My farm is unusual in that I have 5/8 mile of 4 board fence.  Out of about 660 feet of frontage, I have just under 100 feet where what makes the most sense if to plant an array of hawthorn about 5 feet off the fenceline, spaced about 10 feet apart.  Maybe I should push the hawthorne further of the fenceline?

I then come to a gate (from an old driveway).  I suppose make a double gate (swinging opposite directions) is the anti deer solution here.

And the rest is a problem for another post.
 
pollinator
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I have seen this designed and liked it, especially if a person has a lot of small logs to devote to the project.

I would think a sawzall would work best for this, using a portable generator if cuts need to be made out in the field so to speak. A rechargeable sawzall would also work, but I am not a huge fan of batteries as it seems just when I need to finish something up, the batteries crap out.

As for the nails...they are pretty cheap, but galvanized wire would work too. The Japanese build building out of bamboo using round poles and then twisting the wires in x-loop fashion to secure them. They are strong connections, maybe better than nails, or maybe even screws. The problem with screws are, they tend to be hardened, so while they drive in easy, they are brittle and break when something crashes against them where as nails bend, and wire flexes.

One thing to keep in mind about deer is, there is two ways to fend them off. A person can go really high with fencing...or they can build two fences about 10 feet apart. A deer leaps over stuff, so they know they must not only jump higher than the fence, they must have a "landing area" and if a second fence is there, they cannot make the jump, and will say out. In short, (2) 4 foot fences spaced 10 feet apart work better than (1) 6 foot fence.
 
Gordon Haverland
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What is meant by galvanized steel wire in this context?

I stopped at Peavy Mart yesterday (it's a long weekend, many staff not around) and they had a few kinds of galvanized steel wire.  But listed breaking strength was quite a bit lower than I was expecting (less than 100 pounds).  At home, I have most of a 100 pound roll of high tensile fencing (12.5 gauge).  Apparently it comes in grades of 140, 180 or 200, I had to go looking to find that number is thousands of PSI tensile strength.  The grade 200 wire has a breaking strength of 1365 pounds, which would put the 140 grade at about 970 pounds.

Is a person supposed to use high tensile fencing wire, or one of these other kinds?

---

Most of the descriptions I've seen of the double fence for deer, have the two fences at 3-4 feet apart.  Is 10 feet peculiar to jackleg?  Or to slanting fences?
 
Travis Johnson
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You do not want hi tensile...

High tensile is great for fences that are stretched over miles of length and placed under tremendous stress. This is not from animal pressure, but rather things like ice from ice storms, and from heat and cold contraction. But just like a hi tensile bolt...a grade 8 bolt for instance, they can take amazing pull, but they are also brittle. In a straight pull, it takes a lot to break the bolt/wire, but in a shear setting, where shock hits the bolt/wire from the side, they easily break.

In the case of securing poles in a fence, low tensile wire, also called annealed tie wire is best. Not only is it cheaper, it is softer so it is easier to work with, a lot easier. But while it may only be 100 pounds of breaking strength, wrap the log a few times and like a cable, those individual strands really start to add up. No animal is going to break them. And being annealed, the wire will contract and expand easily and those will not break. The strength of the jackleg fence after all does not come from the connection,, but where the logs are placed. If the fence pressure is from the outside, the log pushes against the jacklegs. All the wire does is hold the log in position.
 
Gordon Haverland
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I guess I will try some wire.  As far as the idea that annealed, galvanized wire being cheap, nothing is cheap here (price wise).  It is easy to find cheap (quality wise).
 
Gordon Haverland
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This last winter I ran across a SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage?) proposal document (SNH-531??) about non-fencing methods to protect trees from deer predation.  I think piles of brush/trees around a group of trees was on this list.  I am planting isolated trees on a fairly large spacing (30 feet or 60 feet are common).  Building four X structures, and putting them around a tree might protect a seedling.  But, with so much wood so close, it will also shield light from the tree.

 
Gordon Haverland
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Oh, the aka is "Buck", not "Buc".

By and large the trees on the farm are aspen.  Some people call them trembling aspen.  The might be good for hugelkultur, they are not of much use for outdoor wood projects.  It will be interesting to see how the "root colony" responds to having juglones around.

But, in preparing one location for a Bur oak this morning, I tried to see the trees instead of the forest.

If a person has a planting site in mind, and there are a bunch of convenient aspen (say one inch plus in diameter?) around this site, perhaps the thing to do is to cut the aspens at something like 7 or 8 feet off the ground, and then cut every branch off.  Leave a bit of something, don't cut it flush.  Once a person desod's the ground (if needed) and plants the tree/seedling, a person could use the annealed wire to tie a bunch of aspen "rails" to the "poles" (still living trees, sort of).  If there is a "missing" tree or two to your pattern, take junkpole to heart and place something where you want it.  In terms of "long term" use, a person would have to keep the trunks from growing branches and puttnig out leaves.  I don't think the trunks will die, as aspen is a colony plant and the roots are shifting nutrients all over.

There was an idea from that SNH proposal which is vaguely similar.  When you plant your tree, go out and cut some fresh willow branches off willows of a useful size.  Plant the willow branches into the ground, around your planted tree.  You are looking for a willow which gets to be more than 7 foot tall I think, something which sticks to an upright manner is probably better.  But the idea is to shroud your desired plant in willows, until it becomes tall enough it can't be predated by the deer.

I know mule deer make some damage, but most of my spring pruning is for moose damage.  I have a hedge of mixed laurel leafed willow and caragana (the 20 foot variety).  In the middle of this hedge, there are now moose sized holes in the hedge, where caragana used to live.  I don't think moose eat caragana, so I guess the moose somehow destroyed the caragana.

I have a spot of fenceline (board fence) which tends to snowdrift in the winter.  At an intersection of an E-W leg and a N-S leg of this board fence, the snow drifting was almost to the top rail of the fence.   And as we have considerable wind, it often becomes packed enough for yearling moose, or sometimes a full grown moose to walk on the top of the snow.  The idea of making a section of jackleg fence that is 10 feet tall doesn't interest me.

But, maybe if I plant a bunch of black locust and osage orange just a bit upwind of that (say 100 feet), they will act as a snowdrift until the point where they are big enough to make fenceposts and I coppice them.

But the idea of a moose walking across the top of a 5 foot drift to come up against a 10 foot jackleg fence, and deciding to jump, and when it lands on the other side and breaks through the snow, and gets caught/stuck.  Possibly breaking a leg on the 5 foot tall fence buried under the snow.
 
pollinator
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Hello Gordon. I live in south Texas, and I have watched a whitetail CLEAR a six foot fence. Ranchers around here, I've seen eight foot high fences! The fear for folks with deer programs here is that we have a very scary disease, like mad cow disease that lives in the nerve tissue of deer. I don't know what a jackfence means, but I hope it's one hell of a fence!
 
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A roll of wire would do the trick relatively cheaply.  As Travis said, wrap it around the post/pole combo a couple times in an X fashion.  Consider that the wire joins of the rail on either end create support for one another, so that one prevents the other from twisting and moving, increasing it's durability.  If your wire wraps are tight in the first place, then it creates some serious strength.  You could also lash your rails on diagonals, the top one being run through the top V of one of your X's if you understand the image I'm writing.  This top rail in the V is then supported by the V or (to put it a different way) by the wires that lash the posts and the joinery of your X.  Much stronger. Not strong enough to support a tripping moose, but... what is?

Can you (have you) grow(n) Osage Orange and Black Locust in Dawson Creek?  

Posts(dug in or not) usually rot at ground (living soil line) levels.  If you have flat stone around, you could place a stone under each of your legs to add longevity.  Keep the grass trimmed around your posts a couple times a year and you have less moisture build up on the bottom of the posts.  With Aspens, you will eventually have rot problems.  They don't mind being wet, or dry, but they don't do well with alternations/fluctuations of the two; you will likely end up with some kind of blocky dry rot and ants if you rely on aspen for your posts.    

Cool idea though.  Got my brain working on my own cheap fencing.
 
Gordon Haverland
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Can I grow *?

I will know soon.  Theoretically, I should be able to grow black locust and osage orange.  But, in the fridge I have those and honey locust, Kentucky coffeetree, Korean pine, Swiss stone pine, and a bunch of other things.  Theory from more than 1 direction.

Natural Resources Canada has a page about what grows where, and I hope to keep them up to date.

Bur oak grows about 80 km away from me (Ag/Canada Beaverlodge - they have one 90 year old oak and many 60 year old).  I've got other stuff planted last year and more to plant this year.

 
Gordon Haverland
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It helps to read things more than once.

Ants?  I had never heard of a connection between ants and aspen. I probably have on the order of 500 ant hills on my 40 acres.  Some are black and some are red, I've no idea of the ratio of one to the other.

 
Roberto pokachinni
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I don't know if there is a specific relationship between Aspen and Ants, but rather with any wood that has experienced some dry rot (which I figure might be likely with Aspen used as posts) and ants.  My property has tons of ants too.    
 
Gordon Haverland
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Actually, there might be something about aspen and ants.  There is an aphid that prefers aspen, and ants like to ranch aphids on some aspen.

I guess someone is pushing tropical plants into not quite tropical heat zones.  I'm pushing a while bunch of plants, hoping  that where I live is actually Zone 3 now.

But, this forum thread is about jackleg fencing.  I made my first section of jackleg fence today.

I am cheating by starting my fence from an existing board fence.  Hence, I only needed to make one bipod to put up the first panel of fencing.  I recently visited Princess Auto, who had 16, 18 and 20 gauge annealed galvanized steel wire, so I bought a role of each.  Hopefully I will learn what works for this kind of fencing.

Bot logs for the bipod post were about 6 foot long, I measured up 4.5 feet from bottom ends, to mark where I wanted the post intersection to be.  For the "bottom" post, I then cut in about 1/3 of the way into the log at about a 30 degree angle (converging) from slight inside both marked edges of the intersection.  I used a Silky pruning saw (BigBoy 2000) to make the cuts.  To remove the cut piece, I used a 1 inch wide chisel.  Essentially it was like receiving a truncated triangular tooth, in terms of gears.  On the other post, I machined two flats with a hand plane.  I didn't quite get the angles right, but it was the first time.

I wired up the bipod joint with 20 gauge wire, putting 2 wraps around the joint.  I suspect this is nowhere near strong enough.  The joint was so sloppy that I had to be careful just loading and unloading it from the truck.

I had heard of people cutting the "half lap" joint with the tip of a chainsaw.  I thought using the truncated triangular tooth at least offered the chance of positive location.  Both designs will "cam out" under stress.  To cut the side cuts with the Silky took very little time (it is a 5 TPI saw, very aggressive).  A wider chisel might be slight faster.  I didn't machine the planed areas at a steep enough angle.

The rails were attached to the bipod post with 20 gauge wire.  The top rail was a useful sized tree.  People building jackleg fence to keep in cattle probably will cut the branches flush with the trunk.  I am building fence to keep deer out.  I am either leaving branches on, or leaving stubs on branches.

The second rail was a tree that wasn't quite long enough.  At the bipod post, the tree was only about 1 inch thick, which resulted in a huge bow in the rail.  And I suspect it would break quite easily if pushed by a deer.  I think you really want to look for 2 inch thickness as a minimum, just for stiffness with aspen/poplar.  Even then, it is possible it is not strong enough.

With my second highest rail bowing so much, I went and got a better bottom rail that deer can't do the limbo under (reported to be 10 inches).  I also went and found some shorter trees, to stuff into the fence to fill spaces that looked to large to me (mostly because that second rail bowed so much).

After building that one section, I picked up some 3.5 inch ardox nails.  If a rail is 2 or 2.5 inches thick, a 3.5 inch ardox might be long enough?  Something to try anyway.

But this section of fence is very close to the house, it is easy to see if there are problems, like the fence is down.  If there is a problem, I can find a better second rail.

My thinking is that if I have to rewire the bipod joint, I should stick to 20 gauge and just use more/better wrapping.  Possibly doing more machining of the planed surfaces to get the things to mate better.  For the next bipod, I'll use 18 gauge and for what I think will be the last bipod, I'll use 16 gauge.

I have another board fence a couple of hundred yards uphill, also running E-W (north facing slope).  I can get drifting almost to the height of the fence.  I was thinking of making jackleg fence there, but instead of 6 foot legs, I would go to 10 foot legs.

If a person is building a second jackleg fence inside a vertical fence (board or barbed wire), how does one do the bipod on a 90 degree corner?

Is it useful to put "short" trees into the jackleg  without attaching them?

May all your days, be deerless days.
Image0199.jpg
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View of fence from west
Image0200.jpg
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View of too thin rail on fence
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Great to hear of your progress, Gordon!  

But, this forum thread is about jackleg fencing.  I made my first section of jackleg fence today.

 Sorry.  I'll stay on topic. :)

If a person is
building a second jackleg fence inside a vertical fence (board or barbed wire), how does one do the bipod on a 90 degree corner?  

 I imagine that you may need to build a tripod instead of a bipod.


Is it useful to put "short" trees into the jackleg  without attaching them?  

 I would think so, yes.  The deer will cram themselves into gaps; best to fill them with short bits.  You could easily weave long but thin diameter pieces in.  This can be surprisingly strong.  I've done this with willow in another fence style in the past.  Deer also like to look at what they are jumping into. The more solid your fence looks, the less likely that deer will want to push through, particularly if there are enough beefier solidly wired in pieces that stop them when they make an attempt.
 
Gordon Haverland
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I was just trying to keep myself on topic.

I believe the 20 gauge wire is stretching a little with those two bigger posts, it is only 2 wraps on the joint, so not a lot of metal.

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Can you easily reach your existing wire locations?  If so, you might be able to add a wrap or two of your #20, and use a big spike to twist the wire nice and tight.

Maybe you could start another thread about your planting experiments.  :)
 
Gordon Haverland
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A while ago, I picked up a "clamp" that I think comes from the welding industry.  There is a "beam" which has a bend , and then the end is squished to serve as one clamping surface.  There is a metal arm which moves on the beam, which locks when cantilevered, and at the end of that is a screw to add or subtract clamping force.  I think it will open to something more than one foot.  So I could use that to tighten the joint, and then wrap more wire around it.  I found this clamp at Princess Auto (for those in the USA, think Harbour Freight, but Princess Auto is an older company).

I probably should have used this clamp to begin with.  But, if it isn't big enough, I think I have another trip to Princess Auto coming up in a couple of weeks.
 
Gordon Haverland
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Roberto

I am guessing you are somewhere near Valemont (where highway 16 and 5(?) meet?  When I lived in Edmonton, I used to go to soccer tournaments in the Okanogan.  I usually drove through Valemont.

----

On the subject of fencing, but not really related to  jackleg (or Buck (not Bucj)) fencing.  I have about 5/8 mile of board fence on my 40 acres (nominally 16' 2x6, painted white 40 years ago).  This fence is about 5 foot tall at the top rail.  Most of the fence has a single strand of barbed wire loosely connected to the top back of posts.  Where deer have jumped the fence a few times, more loose than in other places.

I was thinking of making up some "pickets" out of 1x3 that would span the top 2 boards of the fence, and then project maybe 3-6 inches above where this barbed wire is located.  A 1x3 should be about 2.5 inch wide, half that is 1.25 inch (or 5/4 inch), and from a 30/60/90 triangle I would know the short leg is 5/8 inch.  So, I would get a 120 degree point for the picket if I draw a square line at the picket length, and then mark a line 5/8 inch down, and cut off the "corner".  And I think that makes the two side points as also being 120 degrees.

I think that is about the least aggressive picket I can make, in terms of causing possible injury.  Apparently the height of fence that causes the most injuries in deer (deer was not defined, I suspect they were talking white tailed deer) is 6 feet.  The top of my pickets would be close to 6 foot.  Place them every 18 inches?  Or do I have to go closer?

----

In terms of the jackleg fence, most of the visual content to an animal approaching the fence from the "front" is the bipod and the array of rails fastened to the "front post" of the bipod.  And typically the top rail is above the cross point of the fence.  Which is about 2.5 feet "back" from where the bipod post starts.  Some people have strung wire across the tops of the "back leg" (which above the cross point is actually closer by a foot or so).  If a deer decides to jump a jackleg fence  and they miss the "back post wire", they will not jump high enough to get over the fence.

I would suspect that a jackleg fence with back post wire probably causes a lot of deer injuries, regardless of how high it is.  I haven't seen any data.

 
Gordon Haverland
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One thing I never thought of, when I started to cut down select (usually edge) aspen/poplar growing on my land last December, is that I really want to keep track of how long is the tree I fall (or rather, how long before the tip gets to be less than 2 inches thick).  Does the tree fork?  How thick is the trunk where I cut it?  Are their forks in the tree?

On 40 acres, the land is half a mile long.  I didn't know that I was going to try building jackleg fence, so now when I need "parts" I need to remember what is out there.

Some people may be looking to make a jackleg fence to keep their animals in.  And so, they will want to flush cut branches so as to injure their own animals.  I think if you have a chipper/shredder (the shredding typically has a smaller size requirement), you trim the top of the tree at the chipper/shredder limit.  And you cut all the branches off, in a manner to be aggressive to "deer".  If you later need to retrim things for friendly animals, that is not too much work.

To erect an jackleg fence panel to be added to the end of an existing jackleg fence, you need a "rail" for the top, and a rail for the bottom.  The maximum distance the bottom rail can be off the ground to keep out bambi is 10 inches.

If you are protecting an area from deer, the rails are closest to the deer at the ground, and go farther away as you go up the jackleg post.  If you really don't want deer coming in, you can run wire (high tension on barbed) across the top of the closer jackleg posts.

A 6 foot "post" works for length.  You make the jackleg post by marking out 4.5 feet from the ground end on the two posts.  Whatever is left, protrudes above the "pivot".

In terms of setup, you are building an isosceles triangle that is 4.5 feet on a side.  Two of the pieces used to make this, are longer than 4.5 feet.  There is no piece connecting the two ground legs, that is just traction on the ground.  There is no hole to dig.

The posts I used today are probably 8 feet long, not quite as thick as the ones I started with.  Wiring up the post Is still problematic to me, and I know the posts loosen with time, and I have no time yet.

But, if I was to put a leading wire at the top of the leading jackleg posts, many deer might have problems getting over without a problem.

Perhaps a prelude to making jackleg fencing with 10 foot legs, to try and stop moose in the winter?

When a person falls a tree, there are typically branches.  Just cutting the branches square (90 degrees) can "cut" something which rubs against it.  If you are making a jackleg fence to keep animals in, you probably want to cut branches off level with the trunk.  If you are making jackleg fence to keep animals (like bambi) out, it is up to you a to how you deal with branches.  I thihnk the chances of getting cut by a 120 degree angle surface are much less than a 90 degree corner.Making three 120 degree angles to avoid having two 90 degree angle can be a lot more work.

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Roberto

I am guessing you are somewhere near Valemont (where highway 16 and 5(?) meet?

 Sounds like you got me figured. ;)  I'm west of the junction a piece.  I work out of Valemount.

As far as your picket idea, I'm not sure if I visualize it right from your description.  I would think that you might be able to strap stout saplings to your vertical posts having drilled a hole or several holes through them, or screwed in an eyelet or a few.   Run wire through these, and put ribbons of flagging tape or cloth on the wire so the deer see it as an obstacle.  We extended the 'height' of our small garden's wire fence in this manner.

Sounds like you have some pretty good thinking on how to proceed in the future.  





 
Gordon Haverland
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Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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Pickets weren't for the jackleg fence, but for the board fence it is based on.  If you put them on a jackleg fence, I suspect you would have to call them pikes.  And people might think you served in the Vietnam war at some point.

Well, I think for a 15 foot span, you can get away with the thin end of an aspen log being as small as 2  inches.  For a 25 foot span, you probably want the smallest end to be 3 inches in diameter.  Up until this morning, I only had the one section of jackleg done.  Yesterday I made up two jackleg X bipods, and had dropped them off near the garden to erect fence today.

Last night, some deer came walking through the garden again.  The big raised bed (on about 3 inches of wood chips) has a peat heavy "soil", into which I had placed corn in peat pots.  It was to be a 3 sisters type plot of 76 corn plants.  It was too windy for too long, and most of the corn broke off.  I guess I need some wind break.    The outside of the plot has 50 or so squash plants (two varieties), which are just starting now (largest leaf is 3 inches across).  I planted mammoth sunflower in the outer corn row most everywhere, so if the sunflower germinates, I might still have something to hold pole beans.  Next to that I have a raised bed (made from aspen I split in half) on 3 inches of wood chips, which has a "soil" that is similar to the 3 sisters plot, but only 1 inch deep.  I set pieces of potato (Alberta Blush (?) or some kind of Ukranian potato) in the thin soil, and then covered everything in 5 inches of wood chips.  I think I am at 36 plants breaching the surface now.  Deer had walked in that garden as well.

The deer didn't seem to nibble on anything, they just thought it was a walk of fame, and wanted their footprints cast.  The other raised bed is similar to the 3 sisters plot, except its base is inadequate cardboard.  So much quack grass was coming through, I heavily seeded it to peas, and then covered in 3 inches of wood chips.  None of the peas look to have been nibbled on either.  I had planted chives there last year, and now I see 4 groupings of chives.  I also had 2 pepper plants survive the winter, and are slowly growing away.  I added to tomato plants I started in 4 inch pots (1 is a cherry tomato, the other a regular size).

So with 2 jackleg panels done, I have 2 more to go (only 1 more bipod).  So, I hunted down a 17 foot top rail for the next section.  That will at least hold the bipod upright while I go looking for more rails.

I think 20 gauge is going to end up being too small, but maybe that works for attaching the small end of rails to the bipod posts?  18 and 16 gauge seem to be okay.

As all this wood was only cut down in early winter, I am thinking that in a year or so, I could find all those bipods are alive and starting to grow branches.

 
Gordon Haverland
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If what you are putting up fence for, is something like to keep cattle in, I think the recommendation that you cut your bipod posts to 6 feet and mark the spot 4.5 feet from the bottom of both posts as the point where the two posts cross.  You spread the bottoms out, to the point where it is 4.5 feet between the centers of the two bottoms.  That gets you a 4.5/4.5/4.5 equilateral triangle.  This leaves you about 1.5 feet of post sticking beyond the crossing point, and it is in this "saddle" area that you place your top rail.  This will put the top of your top rail in the vicinity of 42 inches (it is easy for things to sag a bit, technically it should be something like 48 inches.

If the reason you are putting up the fence is to keep out deer (white tail, mule, moose, elk, caribou, ...), this isn't tall enough.  I think you should go to 7 foot posts, or possibly 7.5 foot posts.  The crossing point should be at 5 or 5.5 feet from the bottoms, leaving you with about 2 feet extending past the cross point.  Viewed from the side which presents most of the rails to the deer (closest at bottom), if deer are causing problems your first measure could be to put wire at the tops of the posts closest to you.  This would put the wire something like 3  feet in front of the top rail, as well as significantly higher.  This would make it a much more difficult jump.

Some of my fence is barbed wire, and some is board fence (I didn't ask for this, just the way it is).  A 5 foot board fence in a location where snow drifting is common becomes a 5 foot snow drift in the winter, and is no barrier to moose or deer (moose more common here in winter).  I don't know that a jackleg fence made with trees for rails is going to have any significant less drifting than a board fence.  Somebody (in Montana?) made a variation on a fence, where he used some kind of oilfield piping for the rails.  (Some were claiming this must be genius.)  If a person has a place where drifting can be serious and moose are on the agenda, making a jackleg fence with timber bipods that are 10-14 feet long (put the crossing point at about 3/4 the length) and then using these smaller diameter oilfield pipes for rails might make sense.

For what people around here sell things, I don't think I could afford used pipe like this.

If someone wants a higher tech solution.  If we can find a way to make a rigid (but not friable) polyurethane foam from canola (flax, soy, ...) oil, find a way to extrude rods of foam.  Wet surface with epoxy, and then wrap the rod with something like 18 ounce 7544 glass cloth.  I haven't memorized the biaxial braided materials meant to make rods/tubes out of, but it may there is one of those with about the right cloth weight.  You can "squish" the fabric producing a larger ID, slide it onto place, and then pull it to tighten on the "mandrel/form".  Then wet out with more epoxy.  That would be a place to start, maybe you need more than one layer of 18 ounce glass?  I think 7500 (10 ounce glass) is about 400 pounds per inch for strength), so this should be reasonably strong.  It will weight much less than steel.  Epoxy doesn't like UV.  The easy answer is to add carbon black (just like rubber tires do), now you get something which undergoes a lot of thermal fatigue.  I would investigate a titanium dioxide (there are 2 different ones) or zinc dioxide (all are white) as a pigment/filler for the last coat of epoxy.

There are some epoxies being made from vegetable oil (or pine oil).  Not as many as their could be.
 
Gordon Haverland
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I am not at all happy about the bipod cross joints I am producing.  That welding clamp does seem to cause the two surfaces to approximate as well as they can, but after walking a bipod a few feet to get it into the best position the joint is visibly loose.

One problem  may be that I am not peeling the bark off.  This might be a problem in so far as these posts starting to grow again too.  I will blame it on not having a drawing knife.  

I am using a pruning saw, a chisel and rubber mallet, and a hand plane to produce the joints.  But I am doing layup by eye.  My layup leaves a little to be desired.

One reason to build this jackleg fence within  a couple of hundred feet of the house, is that I can see if there are problems.  And with a garden in that space, deer want to be there.  I think I seen something in the local newspaper, that at a recent meeting of the B.P.O. Elks, that some deer presented a motion that if a fence was troublesome, that a moose or elk must come along and try the fence.  

But this fence I built is roughly 70 feet long.  I potentially have 3300 feet of fence to build to protect my osage-orange hedge  while it is getting established.  I have not done the calculation to see if I have enough aspen to do this.

It may be that 20 gauge has a place.  If I clamp the joint tight with that welding clamp, and use 20 gauge to wrap (multiple times) across the two principle directions of the joint.  A problem, is that while multiple wraps provides a lot of cross sectional area (so to speak) to carry load, if the wire breaks there is nothing to stop unravelling from happening.

----

If a deer challenges a well made, strong fence, and finds a way through; it probably doesn't get hurt.  If a deer challenges an experimental, rickety fence and finds a way through, it may collapse on the deer and kill it.

 
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