In prep for NRG and a barrage of upcoming events and trials, we decided to make lattice fencing panels. The mesh fencing was fine but with concrete and packed dirt floors it was going to be a lot more effort than I wanted to undergo. Also, lattice = pretty and country looking so yeah. I also don't like using PVC cement (we have a sordid history of agility equipment disappointments over time) as I want to make sure I can replace anything at anytime for any reason on the spot, so this is completely PVC Cement free woo!
We decided to make 35 panels (I think 32 8 footer and the rest 4 foot panels). Yes, we're insane. All the lattice and pvc was purchased at Lowes online for in store pickup. It took them about 2+ hours to get us loaded so I probably wouldn't recommend using that online ordering ever for something like this. Also, the counts were off and they gave us 4" Core PVC instead of Sch 40. *sigh All the fittings were bought on www.pvcfittingsonline.com and they were awesome! Fast shipping, good organization, nothing incorrect or broken. Whoop!
I wish I had a picture of the PVC lattice and pipe load but honestly, its probably best we don't see what the mountain started out as. Just FYI, we used 1" Sch40 PVC for the frames and it was suitably heavy duty without weighing a ton. The lattice was the vinyl lattice that you can get at the stores.
Armed with the single page from the BHA rules, we set to work on making a prototype. Originally we made the PVC frame EXACTLY as wide as the lattice but it didn't fit into our trailer as easily as what we ended up doing and it also ties together (panel to panel) better if you let the lattice overhang a few inches on the ends. Here's the dimensions we used (remember, there WILL be lattice overlap if you use these numbers. Add more length to your PVC frame if you want an exact fit.) After using them for 4 days at the NRG trial, the overlap was great, looked clean (panels can overlap a smidge for security and fastening) and there were no issues with crowd control (and they WERE leaning on it, over it, and every which way).
Armed with a prototype, we set about making an assembly line:
It doesn't list this above, but we made the feet 1 foot each (each panel has 4- 1 foot footers). Just FYI.
The first thing we did was start to make the frames. We used a table saw (miter saws work awesome too but the PVC hand cutters will probably be a rough way to go for this project unless you have hands of steel) to make all the cuts in the PVC pipe, sorted it all, then got to assembling it. Seriously, organize it all otherwise you'll go insane. It was also why we used same length things when we could for those mix ups and after 20 hours of this, there were mix ups lol.
Tools of the trade (aside from more PVC than you care to deal with ever again):
Armed with this all, we set to work on the bottom portion. Note that there are four pieces of cut PVC for this, two are shorter than the other two. You need the crosses in the places where the feet will go and a T where the upright support with be for the lattice. Make sure it's all flush with the ground and the crosses are vertical as well as tightly fitted into the fittings BEFORE putting screws in. This will make sure your finished panels will be perpendicular with the ground and that the screws will find purchase actually in the PVC pipe. We used a handy dandy wood block to whack things flat with our concrete floors so I highly recommend that approach to make sure its square and plumb. For efficiency, I put halves of the bottom pipe together and then hubs attached the halves with Ts with screws in each cross and T. See le pics:
Once we had a decent pile of halves going, hubs started connecting them with the T for the middle upright support. Again, super duper check that everything is perpendicular to the ground (or parallel in the case of the crosses for the feet) as well as well seated into each fitting. This is a REALLY IMPORTANT THING!
With all the bottom supports done, its time to start moving vertically. We placed 10ish bottom supports on the ground all lined up and put their 90 degree elbows on the end. Use your handy dandy whacking wood piece to make the elbows perpendicular to the ground. These are probably the hardest fittings to get straight up and down but its not that bad. With elbows attached, we started popping the uprights into place. Each panel needs 3 of these vertical PVC pieces.
OK, with your forest in place, you need to make your top supports. These will be two long pieces of cut PVC, a T in the middle, and elbows on each end. I didn't get a picture of just them, sorry :( Once you have THESE made, go to your forest of PVC frames (I'd bring a friend because its way easier to maneuver the top piece onto the bottom pieces with help. conversely, you can lay the pieces down, just watch that you don't stress the screws and cause the PVC to snap while you push and smash the connections into place. Since I had help, we did them all standing up for efficiency (one person held, the other person positioned the top supports and got new ones).
Check that everything looks nice and vertical, flush, and happy (be sure to use your wooden block to smash each joint DOWN to make sure its all tight and THEN screw the top support on. We didn't bother screwing any of the elbows to the PVC as the lattice will effectively take care of that later (but smash them so they're all in nice and tight). Just do the crosses and the Ts please for screws.
OK frames are all done and perfect looking, now what? Now's the moment you've been waiting for - more screwing things in! With your lovely frames now done, gently(ish) lay it on its side and plop a chunk of lattice on top of it. Center it or position it how you'd like (I recommend excess on top, minimal excess on bottom to avoid issues with sitting on the ground unless you made your frame perfectly sized). Mind the cross fittings at the bottom so you don't put lattice in front of where a foot needs to connect later. Once its in place, start screwing it all on. I can't recall how many screws we used per panel (we were blacking out at this point), but make sure to pull the panel here and there to see if your hand could get in there. If it can, some small dog can probably try to get out there. Just put more screws than you need, you won't regret it. It also makes it more stable, secure, safe, and so on, yadda yadda yadda.
Once you secure the lattice, that's it for that portion! We added caps to the leg pieces so it would look more finished and I still feel that it was worth it.
For ease in packing the panels, we just left the legs off and attach them when we get to the events. Depending on your setup you might want them permanently attached: I'd recommend using the screws (shocking, I know) as if/when you break a leg, a few screws come out and you can put a new leg in. PVC cement will require much more extensive surgery for any repairs. Just food for thought.
Congratulations, you've survived making some lattice panels for Barn Hunt!
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