Making dog-eared fence pickets. Fence Production Techniques:

Cutting Simple Dog-Eared
Fence Pickets

In This Article:

12' long boards are cut to 4' length and corners are snipped off to make "dog-ear" pickets.

Related Articles:
Skill Level: 2 (Basic) Time Taken: 2.5 Hours for 99 pickets

By , Editor


The first step was to cut one picket exactly 4 feet long. I made all the pickets from 12 foot long treated 1x6's, which gave a picket cost substantially less than using 8 foot boards.


Using the first picket as a guide, I fastened a stop block to the workbench. I also fastened the miter saw to the bench with lag screws.

My workbench here is a long scrap of OSB, just under 8 feet long and less than 2 feet wide, screwed to a frame of 2x2's. I placed that on the end of a utility trailer, which made an ideal working height. But I also sometimes set the table-top on a pair of folding sawhorses.


Clipping The Corners:

I carefully laid out cuts at 45 degree angles, starting 1.25" in from the edges of the board. 


I positioned the picket accurately and placed a block of 2x4 against the end. I initially held the 2x4 in place with a Quick-Grip clamp.


Stop-block used for cutting guide when making dog-eared fence pickets. Then I cut through the picket and the stop block. But the Quick-Grip clamp got in the way of the saw handle, so I had to use a C-clamp instead. From here on it was a simple matter of setting a picket against the saw fence, sliding it up to the stop block, cutting it, then flipping the board over to cut the other corner.


My high-volume production set-up for cutting "dog-ear" corners:
A. Stack of square-cut pickets, 4' long.
B. Picket about to be cut.
C. Nearby stack of just-cut pickets.
D. Larger stack of finished pickets.
E. The stop block for cutting boards to length, not used for this cutting operation.

If there's one thing I've learned from my education and experience as an engineer, it's that some work "creates value" and some work does not. In a fence project, like many carpentry projects, value is created by cutting materials and fastening them in their proper location. Marking boards, moving lumber, laying out cuts, etc. do not create value. Hence, those tasks must be eliminated or reduced in order to maximize productivity. I had almost 200 cuts to make. If for each cut I took 10 seconds to align the saw blade with the line, that would be 33 minutes of moving wood around. Similarly, any time taken moving boards from the "uncut" stack to the saw, then to the "finished" stack, is time wasted. Such efforts add no value. Keeping all materials close by means less time wasted.

In the above photo, I had the uncut pickets within reach of where I stood. When cut, I placed them in a stack next to me, rather than taking two steps to the larger stack. When I had cut a dozen pickets, I moved the close-by stack to the sawhorses. I could have put the saw horses closer to the saw, but it would have crowded the scene for other work. My approach was a compromise.


Next I removed the miter saw and set up the bench belt sander. I wanted to sand the cut edges of the boards so they would be less likely to give someone a sliver.

The stack in the foreground is the pile of completed pickets, ready for installation.


My procedure was to simply "roll" the board with the end against the sanding belt. I sanded both top and bottom of each board. The entire stack took about 45 minutes to complete.


The sanding creates a subtle rounded appearance and is definitely worth doing if a bench mounted belt sander is available.

The 4"x36" belt sander I used costs about $100 at Sears. It comes in handy for smoothing out rough cuts and many other tasks.

Continue to Pre-Assembling Fence Sections.




Tools Used:

  • Power Miter Saw
  • Bench Belt Sander
  • Cordless Drill/Driver
  • C-Clamp
  • Sawhorses

Materials Used:

  • Treated Lumber, 1x6x12'


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Copyright © 2001, 2005

Written March 21, 2001
Revised January 12, 2005