Our backyard fence is starting to show its age and the cedar 4X4s are slowly starting to break with our strong SW KS winds. I would like to start replacing the 4X4s with heavy gauge steel posts (we'll need about 80 or so).

Anyway, what I'm needing to deal with is the gap between the stringers once the wood post is removed. The brackets for the steel post are just barely able to reach the end of the stringers, so there's not much bite into them and I'm afraid it won't be very strong.

Any ideas to deal with an excessive gap without replacing all the stringers for the individual broken posts? I need to replace about 5 broken posts right now, but will eventually start doing one side of the fence at a time and obviously replacing stringers to fit at that point.

The posts will be 2-3/8" x 8' AP40 (10 gauge) steel using using three 2x4 cedar rails and cedar pickets with the posts being on 8' centers. I will be using these brackets. They are the heaviest and widest I could find.

I only get about an inch overlap onto the rails. If I use 5/16 galvanized lags they are just barely grabbing the end of the rails. I thought about temporarily putting an 8" mending plate on the backside of the rails between the rail and the pickets. At least until I can start rebuilding one whole side at a time. For right now I just need to replace the 5 until later this summer.

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2 Answers 2


Your comment about the mending plate is going in the same direction I am, but you really want something long enough to be effective in tension--to do what the screws being so close to the end of the rails doesn't do. You also want something cheap and easy, since you'll need so many.

I think I'd try something like strips of heavy-gauge galvanized sheet steel, maybe from a 12" or 18" wide roll. Cut 3" strips off the end of the roll and use them to gusset the rails together on the back side prior to installing them in the bracket. This serves to transfer any tension load on one rail to the adjacent rail as well. Simple 1" or 1-1/4" flat-head screws should work well--they should pull in flush fairly easily.

It can be difficult to predict failure modes with something like this, so build a couple and try stepping up on the rails. See how things move. You may need to switch to light-gauge steel angle wrapping underneath, or even 1/8" bar stock underneath, to give more stability on the Y-axis.

  1. Use larger steel posts so that when the brackets are mounted to them, the bracket comes close enough to the stringer that it can be securely attached.
  2. Use deeper brackets to span the gap.
  3. Both of the above. Larger posts in combination with longer brackets if neither alone will do the trick.
  4. Bite the bullet and replace the stringers with longer ones.

Which you choose will probably be determined by cost. You may find that purchasing & preparing new lumber to make longer stringers is less expensive than larger posts and/or brackets. On the other hand, larger posts and/or brackets may be less expensive than lumber. It may depend on the day you make the purchase.

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