I set a 4×4 post today, complete with concrete footing. While this may not seem like much, it was a big deal for me as I’d never done it before. My parting impression: it’s a lot of work. Between digging the hole and handling the concrete, it’s quite the back breaker.
To dig the hole, I used a garden variety post-hole digger. I can see why people recommend a power auger if you’re doing a lot of these… it’s slow going. And of course, by Murphy’s law, about 1 foot down I hit a giant rock (several giant rocks, actually). I was able to break them up pretty easily with my ball-peen hammer and a cold chisel, but it certainly added some additional sweat equity to the job. An air chisel or demo hammer would probably make this a bit more fun.
I wanted to get the hole about 2-1/2 feet deep, but I stopped a couple inches short because I hit a giant root, and I made the executive decision that the hole was deep enough. Then I dumped in some gravel, followed by a few inches of concrete for the footing. Then I stuck the post in, plumbed it and staked it up, and backfilled the hole with concrete. It sounds easy, but it was a lot of work, especially since I was mixing the concrete by hand. The concrete is still curing, and hopefully once it’s done the post will be pretty bulletproof.
Incidentally, the purpose of the post is to support…. a bird feeder. Yep, a 4×4 with concrete footing is probably way overkill for a bird feeder, but it was a worthwhile exercise nonetheless. I may be doing the same thing for our mailbox one of these days.. the mailbox and post have both seen better days.