How to Cut Cedar Trees to Use As Fence Posts


Because of their natural resistance to rot and decay, both western red cedar and northern white cedar have long been used for fence posts. The wood of either species is relatively soft and easy to cut. If you have the right tools and do a bit of planning, you can harvest numerous cedar trees in a relatively short period and begin building that fence.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw
  • Measuring tape
  • Measuring string marked at 3-inch intervals
  • Slip your measuring string around the trunk of a tree you might like to cut. If your string is marked at 3-inch intervals, it's easy to determine if it's large enough for your fencing project. As a tree's circumference is roughly three times its diameter, as an example, a tree measuring 18 inches around has a diameter of nearly 6 inches.

  • Measure the height of the tree trunk, using the measuring tape. Keep in mind that a fence post should have roughly 1/3 of its length buried, if you want to your fence posts to stand 6 feet above the ground line, you'll need a tree of suitable girth, with a trunk at least 9 feet high.

  • Turn on your chainsaw. Remove any of the lower branches from the tree. This will give you unobstructed access to the base of the trunk.

  • Cut the tree trunk off flush with the ground line. On a smaller softwood tree such as a cedar, it will not be necessary to make a wedge cut on one side. Make a horizontal cut across the trunk and drop the tree.

  • Measure the trunk to the length you require, and cut away the top of the tree. Use your chainsaw to remove any other branches on the portion that will become your fence post. Repeat the process until you have harvested enough trees to complete your fencing project.

Tips & Warnings

  • The best candidates for fence posts are trees with a single, perfectly straight trunk.
  • If you cut a large cedar, it may be necessary to make a wedge cut on the trunk before cutting in from the backside.
  • Both white-tailed deer and mule deer are quite fond of browsing on cedar leaves. In all likelihood, they will make short work of the limbs and tops you leave behind.
  • As long as you're in the woods already, cut a few extra posts, just in case.
  • Unless you are an extremely experienced woodsman, never cut trees alone. If you are seriously injured by the chainsaw, you might easily bleed to death before help could arrive.

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  • Photo Credit Old wooden posts and barbed wire farm fence against blue sky. image by GoodMood Photo from
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