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Electric Fence

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This project appeared in our August 2, 2008 Newsletter.

Electric Fence

We wanted to keep the raccoons out with an electric fence but we also wanted it to look nice. As we found out this was not particularly easy. We needed to be able to see through it and distract too much from the pond, fish and waterfall. We had an added problem is that there is a wood frame around the pond which doesn't make for a very good ground.
We decided on bamboo for the fence posts and 14 gage electric fence wires for the rails. We wanted some randomness so the bamboo was cut just above each joint and let that determine the length. We also cut it just about the joint so that it wouldn't fill up with water, defeating my electric wires by shorting them out.
After cutting them to length I cut a notch half way through and about 2" up.

This is so that I can mount them flat against the 2" X 12's that around the pond.
I drilled a countersunk hole for the mounting screw approximately in the middle of the notch.

Next I drilled the holes for the wires. I made the holes just slightly larger than the wire. I wanted the wires to be straight so I used the notch as a guide to keep the holes straight with the edge of the notch. I used a spacer block to set the spacing for the holes from the edge of the notch.

This insured that each wire would be level when it was installed.
The installation was fairly simple. I mounted the bamboo and ran the wires through them. I put the hot wire on top, ground in the middle and another hot on the bottom. On the other side of the pond where I have a wooden walkway I added a forth wire (ground) to the bottom.
For the pond side I needed a ground on the bottom but instead of a wire I went with some square mesh fencing material. I cut strips about 8" wide and nailed them to the deck. I tied this mesh to the ground of the system.

Another problem we had to deal with is our cat, Miss Kitty Kitty. She's pretty much an outdoor cat and we didn't want her getting zapped by the fence. We needed a way to turn it off when she was out and turn it on when she was in. A light switch was one possibility. Plugging and unplugging was another, both would require going outside in the rain, remember we live in Washington, to switch it.
I found a vacuum system remote on-off switch at Rockler,, . It did not appear to be waterproof so I built a little cover for it and plugged it in.

It works great! The fence can now be easily turned off when Kitty goes out and back on when Kitty comes in. I also mounted the electric fence control so that you can see the light from the house when it's on. If you are going to put in an electric fence and don't need to bother with wood like we did then you can just drive steel grounding rods into the ground, tie the ground from the control to it and run your hot wire. We've had our fence up for about three weeks now and have not seen hide nor hair of the raccoons. We sure do hope it's due to the electric fence.

That's about it. We hope you liked this project. If you build it and your friends ask where you got such a clever idea, please tell them that you got it at

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