This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
A common fence in America is the "zigzag" or "rail," Fig. 624, in which stout rails b are laid about 7 deep with their ends crossed between upright stakes a driven into the ground. The rails may be of uneven lengths, instead of even as shown.
Lattice-fencing, Fig. 625, consists of a number of laths a, pegged across each other and supported by rails b carried on posts c fixed at intervals of 8-10 ft. The lattice may be made much more open, and will then consume less material.
Common wood paling is shown in Fig. 626. Stakes a are driven by a heavy mallet 12 in. into the ground at 5 or 6 ft. asunder; when the ground is hard, a hole may be made by the foot-pick or the driver; and such stakes will support a paling 3 ft. 3 in. in height. While 2 rails are sufficient to fence cattle, 3 are required for sheep. The rails should be nailed on the face of the stakes next the field, and made to break joint, so that the ends of all the 3 rails shall not be nailed upon the same stake; nor should the broad ends of the rails be nailed together, even though thinned by the adze, but broad and narrow ends together as at b, that the weight and strength of the rails may be equalized. To make the paling secure, a stake should be driven as a stay in a sloping direction behind the rails, and nailed to every third stake. The upper rail should be nailed near the top of the stakes, the lowest edge of the lowest one 6 in. from the ground, and the upper edge of the middle one 20 in. above the ground.
Lapped paling of cleft oak is illustrated in Fig. G27. The pales a lap over each other, and are nailed to rails 6, tenoned into posts c, while a board d is run edgewise along the bottom.
In open paling, Fig. 628, the pales a are nailed flat and independently to the rails b, of which 2 suffice; these latter are tenoned at their ends into the posts c. This is a much cheaper fence than the preceding.
The only important difference presented by the so-called timber-merchant's fence, Fig. 629, is that the posts a are provided with "pockets" leading to the mortices into which the ends of the rails b are slipped; these pockets meet the mortices in such a way that any section or "bay" of the fence can be bodily removed by lifting it sufficiently to free the mortice and pass forwards by the pockets.
Fields are often temporarily fenced by hurdles, Fig. 630. In setting them up, the first hurdle is raised by its upper rail, and the ends of its stakes are sunk a little into the ground with a spade, to give them firm hold. The next is placed in the same way, both being held in position by an assistant; one end of a stay a is placed between the hurdles, near the tops of their stakes, and the stay and hurdles are fastened together by the peg b pressing through holes in both. Another peg c is then passed through the stakes lower down, and the hurdles are sloped outwards until the upper rail stands 3 ft. 9 in. above the ground. A short stake d is driven by a mallet into the ground at a point where the stay a gives the hurdles the right inclination, and a peg fastens the stake and stay together. The remaining hurdles are fastened in a similar manner. It is perhaps more common to pitch these hurdles upright and dispense with the sloping stay a, replacing it by a stake driven vertically into the ground between the ends of the hurdles. The construction of the hurdles themselves is obvious from the sketch.
The 4 level rails e are let into slits in the sides of the stakes f, and the 3 cross bars g are nailed to the level rails e.
A useful form of close fence for temporary purposes is shown in Fig. 631. The boards a are simply slipped down one upon another in grooves cut vertically in the uprights b, which are let into the ground. By this means the use of nails is avoided, and the boards are but little the worse for being so employed.