DIY or Hire a Contractor?


If you’re considering a new fence installation, you’re probably wondering whether you can go the DIY route or if you should hire a contractor. Here is a list of things that will need to be done regardless of which direction you choose:

• Utility line locating.

By law, homeowners and contractors alike must notify utility companies prior to excavation. This step is marked off your list by making a call to the Oklahoma one call system known as CallOkie (800) 522-6543.

• Remove the old fence.

(Tips and tricks to come in a later blog!)

•Property line identification.

In the case of new construction, it’s best to find the surveyor’s pins, which can be found at corners and/or other points the property line may change direction. An official drawing of the property in relation to the house/building is also commonly used. If you are removing an old fence, old post settings may be used to determine a line for your new posts.

• Post placement and layout.

Tap some stakes in the ground. Then from point A to B stretch a tight string, making sure it is aligned along the pre-determined property line. It’s almost time to excavate (digging for most of us). This next step will differ depending on what type of fence.For Round Rail Ranch, ornamental, and other types that have an exact distance between sections, I prefer to dig my hole, assemble the section, and then move on to the next hole.
For cedar privacy and chain link fences the post placement is not as exact, so I will mark my post spacing with cheap spray paint on the ground before digging begins. 95” on center for privacy and approximately 10ft for the chain link.

• Obstacles in the ground.

If not for rocks, roots, and plain old hard dry clay, fencing would be a breeze. Most of the time you can adjust the distance between your posts to avoid a large buried rock or root. Sometimes it is necessary to go through the root with repeated blows from a sharp rock bar. And on occasion a jackhammer is required for rock removal.

If you’re a Do It Yourselfer be sure to check out the tips on how to build specific types of fence on my other blogs. I’m available to answer questions Monday thru Friday 8a-5p.

Robert Cervantez
Champion Fence Tulsa

DIY Wood Privacy Fence Installation Tips


Do you need a fence in wood privacy in your yard and have been thinking about installing one yourself? It’s not rocket science, but there are many things that you will want to be aware of to build something that makes you proud and will look great for years. There are a few variations in style, but the six foot tall standard cedar privacy fence is one of the most popular found in the Tulsa and surrounding areas. There are many ways to create privacy and security with fence materials, but the standard privacy fence construction will give you the most bang for the buck.

Here are a few DIY installation tips for installing a wood privacy fence:

• Materials

  • Pressure treated 4x4x8′ posts
  • Ready mix concrete
  • Pressure treated 2x4x8’’ back rails
  • Cedar fence board (3.5” and 5.5” widths are commonly available)
  • Hot dip galvanized ring shank nails (3” framing & 1 ¾” coil) Any fastener with less than a hot dip galvanized finish will corrode quickly by the chemicals used in pressure treated wood. From years of tearing out old fence, it’s my opinion that ring shank nails hold better than screw shank

• Setting posts

Before excavation, see prep work and basics mentioned above. The number one cause for a weak and leaning fence line is not having the post set deep enough. For soft easy to dig soil, 26” of your 8′ 4×4 should be in ground. Twenty four inches is deep enough for clay and more stable soil. You can wrap some tape around the handles of your diggers for a quick reference to your depth. Also you can mark your posts with a sharpie to get a visual check on your depth as you drop posts into hole. An eight inch diameter hole is sufficient for the setting. I prefer to “back” my way down the string line as I’m setting posts. This way you can use the string line, hand held level and get a visual on the line of previously set posts.

• It’s all about the top

Nothing says “amateur” more loudly than an unsightly fence top. Most ground in these parts is less than level and not lacking in lumps and dips.A tight string line a couple inches off the ground is the best way I’ve found for making gradual changes without all the minor imperfections showing along the top.

  • Stretch string from posts on each end of a straight run.
  • Stand back from the fence line and get a visual on where the string needs to be raised or lowered.
  • Tap a nail into a post to reposition string, thus designing the contour of your fence top.
  • Now we transfer this line up on each post. Using a 6′ picket, make a “story board” by marking the placement of the top, middle and bottom 2×4 back rail on the edge.
  • Then add one more line an inch above the mark for the top edge of the top 2×4. This mark is for cutting the top of the post off before nailing. Uniform post height adds to the professional look. You’re now ready to transfer the markings on your story board to each post.
  • Place the bottom of story board at contoured string line then mark each post for placement of back rails and for cutting off the excess top of post.

• Nail it up

After running a circular saw around the top of the posts, set saw blade depth to just greater than 2×4 thickness. Start at one end of run by nailing top, middle and bottom 2x4s then cut each at center of post to make room for nailing next section. Repeat. Now, the top edge of the top 2×4 is the same contour that you created with the string. A template can now be made to slide along and align pickets as you nail producing a smooth flowing professional appearance.

If you’re a Do It Yourselfer, be sure to check out the tips on how to build specific types of fence on my other blog entries. I’m available to answer questions Monday thru Friday 8a-5p.

Robert Cervantez
Champion Fence Tulsa

How is an old fence removed?


How we remove old fencing.

This can be fun if you enjoy tearing things up ! The two most common fence types in these parts are wood privacy and galvanized chain link.

Let’s start with the chain link.

The chain link fabric is fastened to the frame by aluminum wire ties spaced along the top rail and posts. All of these need to be snipped so as to free the fabric. At the terminal points (ends and corners), fabric can be cut with pliers or bolt cutters. Allow fabric to lay flat then cut at fifty foot sections or smaller to roll up and transport. This is a relatively easy process…unless nature has been aggressive with saplings, vines and roots.

From here the tear out can be a slow go unless it’s possible to use the “Red Neck Rip Out” method. If you’re able to get your pick up or tractor alongside the fence with the fabric, you can hook on with a chain at one end and peel the chain link back toward the other end. If there’s no room to get the big guns in place you will have to pull the fabric free by hand. Loppers, chain saw and or sawzall will come in handy. You may even need a long pry bar. Using a cable jack (aka come-along) is a possibility if a sturdy tree is in a good position.

After the fabric is clear, lift the top rail off of the posts. Rail should come apart in 20ft sections. With the posts you have two options: cut them off or pull them out. Unless you must have the exact same spot as for a gate to be rebuilt in the same place, I see no reason for pulling the post. You end up with a hole to fill in and a chunk of concrete to dispose of. The most common procedure used by professionals is to cut the post just below grade then move over a few inches to set the new post.

Now for the wood panel.

Wood panel constructed fence can be a fairly quick tear out. If the distance is not too far, 6’X8’ panels can be carried by two people from site to truck/trailer. 2X4 back rail can be cut away from posts with a sawzall or chain saw but I find that a tap with a sledge hammer works just as well. Same as the chain link posts, I see no reason for pulling unless for a specific purpose. Just cut post a bit below grade then move over a few inches for the new setting.


Most fence material being removed has exhausted any useful purpose. Wood goes to the land fill and metal can be sold for scrap. However if the fence is in good to even “fair” condition, someone may be interested in buying it or maybe even removing it for free. Many times I have posted a picture on Craigslist and had the material sold before my crew could get it on the trailer.

If you’re a Do It Yourselfer, be sure to check out the tips on how to build specific types of fence on my other blog entries. I’m available to answer questions Monday thru Friday 8a-5p.

Robert Cervantez 918-857-6310