On the picket line


NOW AND AGAIN I caught the fence-building bug this spring and summer. My priority was to build a rail gate across the driveway. The work expanded from there and I ended up milling quite a few pickets as well.

The gate is to keep little D1D1, the youngest member of our household, from making a beeline for the street.

Daughter #1 of Daughter #1.


I ripped out the picket blanks on the table saw in the backyard, loaded them up for a ride to John Ross’s woodworking shop in North Kingstown. This is the first bunch, more came later.

When I got to John’s I couldn’t find my glasses. Felt around on the top of my head… nope..

There they were on the spoiler of the old Saab 9000. Seventeen miles on the highway and somehow they didn’t fall off.


Too bad I didn’t think to grab a photo while the wildflowers were in bloom.


A few diehards hanging on…


D1 and D1D1 wanted to grow tomatoes, so I dug a new water line and ran a second hose bib, and built another fence to keep the little girl from tumbling down the hill into the woods. This all looks like one fence from the street…


… from the side you can see there are two.


While building the driveway gate I also made a pair of them for the top of the hill on the south side of the house.


The humble manse remains humble, even as its own gated community.


The fence along the road had pickets like these 25 years ago. I had made them out of pine to save a few bucks we didn’t have. Over the years I replaced them one by one as they rotted away. Then one day it made more sense to just to knock them all off and have a rail fence.

The posts and rails are in perfect shape. I had used treated lumber on them from the beginning, it was just the pine pickets that weathered away.


I dovetailed the frame together, it’s as solid as it was a quarter-century ago.


Treated fir is so saturated with moisture that the grain pops when it dries out, gives the pickets a natural texture. If you look closely you can see where the planer marks become apparent, too. They make it look as if the wood came off a bandsaw instead of a rotary mill. Gives the pickets an antique touch. Sort of semi-rustic.


Here’s the frame for the gate drying out back in the spring, after I glued up the mortise-and-tenon joinery.


Some apply glue sparingly. With me it’s more like… Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?


Dunno how much more you may care to know, but here are a few shop pics before I close.

To start, make the shoulder cuts on a table saw…


Screw on an acrylic disk to serve as a bearing guide for the next cutting tool brought to bear…


… a straight router bit.

That little flip just above the shoulder comes out by hand with a sharp chisel.


Finally… in regard to the motorcycle test rides on Friday, you may recall that I pooh-poohed the off-road practicality of the behemoth R1200GS, and made sport of Ewan McGregor dropping his GS a few hundred times while riding it around the world in Long Way Round.

Our friend Scott Patterson of New Brunswick, Canada, takes umbrage and makes a finding of The hell you say! Here’s his big GS out in the weeds somewhere.

“Handles just fine off road… Wouldn’t take it places I would go with a 400 or 200 cc bike, but handles just fine in some pretty gnarly stuff and eats up dirt, mud and gravel. Ewan McGregor’s frame cracked due to countless falls cuz he’s a shit dirt rider, and that was the old 1150…. new bike, man… ride one, you’ll get it.”

Okay, but take note that this is Scott’s idea of a test ride, albeit on the 1200’s junior sibling, the 800.

Tony DePaul, September 10, 2017, Cranston, Rhode Island, USA


About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 63, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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13 Responses to On the picket line

  1. Bill says:

    If you have some spare time, we need a new railing on our deck at the back of the house.

  2. brad says:

    That’s some nice picket work. I’m sure management will approve.

  3. Jon Brush says:

    Hey, the house looks great with the cahyoot white picket fence. How’s it working out in the basement dwelling?

  4. Ryan says:

    I am not sure if I’ll ever get a piggy of my own, but let me know if you get a sidecar. I’ll bring the leather cap and scarf.

  5. Linda & Ron Dunne says:

    Wow, Tony , what a beautiful fence. Excellent job!

  6. steve lyon says:

    Buddy ‘o mine has an ’09 650GS for sale. Newly minted dad, doesn’t wanna ride anymore. Might be the perfect ride for ya.

    • Tony says:

      I almost went to Virginia after one back when I was hunting for a South America bike. Then I bought the DR650 piglet locally.

      Still hope to ride it to Tierra del Fuego if ol’ CCjon and I can ever get a shipping container lined up.

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