If your fence posts have just been installed or if you have moved onto a property in which you think the fence posts are too tall, you have probably thought about cutting them down to size. Though they may have been in the ground for many years, fence posts are easily dealt with. Whether your fence is made of wood, vinyl, metal, or stone, there is a good way to cut it.
A standing fence post can be cut down to size. You might need to use anything from a jigsaw to a grinder to get an even cut depending on the material of the fence post. Here’s how to cut wood, wood, vinyl, concrete, brick, chainlink, steel, and aluminum fence posts.
Here is everything you need to know about how to cut standing fence posts. No matter what your posts are made of, you can cut them.
Cutting Standing 4×4 Wood Fence Posts
Wooden fence posts are by far the most common type of fence post that you may need to cut. This is because wooden posts are the best type of post to use for anything from small garden fences to barbed wire fences. In addition to being everywhere, wooden fence posts are also the type of fence post that is the most necessary to cut- and here’s why.
First of all, unlike brick or stone fence posts, wooden fence posts need to be driven into the ground. To avoid having a fence post that is too short, many fence builders use fence posts that are extra long in order to ensure that they have enough length to work with.
Another reason that wooden fence posts are the most common type to cut is that a fence post with a flattened top is bad for the overall structure. Though flat tops are the easiest to manufacture, the flat top of a fence post can trap water there. The trapped water over time will seep through the most vulnerable grains in the wood, causing some grains to expand. This expansion can lead to your fence posts splitting, cracking, and rotting.
In order to bring your fence posts down to the correct size and to keep them from suffering too much water damage, you should cut down the tops of your standing fence posts at an angle so that the water can slide down the side of the post instead of getting stuck at the top. Getting all of your fence posts to be cut down to the same height and the same incline can be a little tricky, so here are some tips that can help.
Tools and Techniques
To properly cut a 4×4 standing fence post, you will need a couple of tools. First of all, you will need some kind of saw. Most people use a jigsaw, a circular saw, a reciprocating saw or just a simple hand saw. Keep in mind that because the cut that you will make will be at least 4 inches deep, many saw blades will not be able to complete the cut with just one pass through the wood.
You will also need a tool that can accurately measure your wood posts so that they will all match one another in height and all have the same level of incline. Consider using a string from one post to another to measure them against each other. Take care to measure and mark all of the cuts that you will make. For the angle at the tops of the fence posts, a shallow angle will do the job just fine. Measure the line to drop about 2 inches across the top, forming a roughly 30-degree angle.
Even though you will have a straight line to cut across, it is still advisable to add some kind of barrier to the edge of the cut that you are going to make. Without some kind of limit to put your saw against, it will be easy to make an uneven cut- especially if your blade is short and you need to make 2 passes through the wood. Some handymen craft themselves a frame that they can place on the top bar of their fence which rests against the post and provides a surface that they can place their saw against. Whatever you choose to use, find something that will make the fence look good. After all, it will be there for a long time.
If your fence posts aren’t yet in the ground, you will have a much easier time cutting them. In this case, you should have no trouble getting them to the right length with a miter saw. Just be sure to measure the specific height that you need (including the buried portion) before you make your cuts. If the posts are cut too short, you’ll have a lot of trouble assembling a fence.
Cutting Standing Vinyl Fence Posts
Aside from wooden fences, vinyl fences are the most popular in suburban American neighborhoods. Thankfully, vinyl fences (because they are manufactured) usually do not need to be cut.
In fact, because the fence panels are so tall, cutting vinyl fence posts can easily make them too short to use. However, if you want to shorten the standing fence posts, or maybe shorten the entire fence, there are a few things that you should know.
First of all, by making any cuts or modifications to your vinyl fence, you may lose the warranty that you have on the fence. You could also easily damage the channels or grooves on the fence posts that allow the panels to connect to the posts. Carefully determine if and where you should cut. Measure and mark out your incisions, and if your fence has caps on the posts, remove them.
Vinyl fencing can be cut pretty easily with a circular saw or any other saw that has a fine-tooth blade. As always, make sure that all of your cuts are straight so that you will still be able to attach the panels to your posts. Though you don’t need to cut at an incline when working with vinyl, it is still recommended that you use a brace against your saw so that the cut comes out straight. Vinyl is popular because it is easy to work with so you shouldn’t have any trouble!
Cutting Standing Concrete Fence Posts
If your fence is made of concrete, you might be a little bit wary about trying to cut through it. After all, concrete is tough- that’s why they make fences out of it. However, you might be surprised at how well an angle grinder can get through the cement and concrete. Before you start, equip your grinder with a masonry blade and measure out an even cut all around the fence post. You probably won’t have a large enough blade to go all the way through the post, but after enough cutting, you will be able to break off whatever didn’t get cut.
During the grinding, keep your blade level with the ground (or at a slight upward angle to round off the top of your post) After you cut the post, you can use a variety of tools (including the angle grinder) to smooth out the top of the fence and remove any imperfections.
Cutting Standing Brick Fence Posts
Brick fence posts have a lot in common with concrete fence posts. Both are usually used in combination with wood planks to form a fence, though some are connected by cords, brick, or stone. However, brick fence posts are usually a lot thicker than concrete fence posts, so they usually cannot be cut through with a small angle grinder. In fact, brick fences and walls are some of the most difficult structures for a layman to work with.
The best way to cut or remove a brick fence or a brick fence post is by attacking the mortar. You can use a large angle grinder with a masonry blade to make the first cuts, but then your best tool will be a drill with a bit that can go through concrete or mortar. Start to drill through the mortar, drilling around one brick at a time. By putting holes in the mortar around the brick, you isolate it so that the rest of the wall or post will not come apart when you remove the section in question. Once the mortar is sufficiently weakened, you can use a large-headed hammer to break the bricks out from the fence or wall.
Once the bricks have been removed, find a mortar chisel (or just use a large, flathead screwdriver) and carefully remove the mortar and brick pieces from the structure that you wish to keep. Depending on where you removed bricks, you may need to add some supports that will help keep the brick fence or fence post from crumbling.
While removing bricks is doable, bricks can be remarkably fragile and difficult to replace. It might be best if you called a professional engineer or mason to help you if you need to cut through bricks.
Cutting Standing Chain Link Fence Posts
If there is a chain-link fence in your yard or in your business that needs to be cut, you shouldn’t have any problems. The fence posts are hollow, thin, and can be cut by hacksaws or reciprocating saws. In fact, if you need to remove a chain-link fence, cutting the fence posts off at the ground is often far easier than removing them from the concrete that they were laid in. Just be sure to make your cuts with saw blades that are designed to be used on metal.
After carefully measuring the cuts that you would like to make, it is a good idea to put the fence post that you are going to cut into some kind of clamp or vise. This is because chain-link fence posts are flexible and will probably bend and shake while you are trying to cut them (unless you are cutting close to the base). If you have nothing to clamp the fence post to, you should find someone who can brace themselves against the post while it is being cut. If you are also cutting the chain link, a wire cutter will do fine.
Once the cutting is complete, take some time to dull down the metal edges of the fence post. A grinder or a metal file will make them a lot safer for everyone to touch. For the chain-link sections, use a pair of pliers to bend down the exposed areas. This will make the fence safer to touch while also improving the integrity of the fence. Try to bend the exposed metal over the link in such a way that the end of the fence doesn’t unravel.
Cutting Standing Steel or Aluminum Fence Posts
Steel fence posts aren’t very common, but they are useful in all kinds of fences. Their height, thickness, and density will all depend on whether they are holding up a wooden fence, a metal fence, a vinyl fence, or even just a fence made out of plastic loops and steel stakes. Despite the variety of steel fence posts that you might find, they are still cuttable with the same few tools that are useful in all fence post cutting: circular saws or reciprocating saws.
Aluminum fence posts are more commonly used for decoration, but they can be treated in the same way. If your entire fence is made out of aluminum bars, you will probably not be able to cut the fence itself down to the size that you are probably hoping for, as cutting the fence panels will remove the top bar, making the fence lose its integrity. For aluminum, you can use the same tools as you would for steel.
Just as with the chain-link fence, the exposed steel or aluminum edges can be dangerous. File or grind them down as best you can. Grinding down edges can help you prevent fence-related accidents that can be caused by sharp points or edges.