From keeping livestock contained to marking property boundaries, wire fences like woven wire fences and barbed wire fences have been a stalwart presence for centuries. However, over time and due to various factors like weather conditions and animal interference, wire fences can become loose or sagging, compromising their effectiveness. In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through the process of achieving a taut and secure fence line using straightforward techniques. Whether you're a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a first-time fence stretcher, our comprehensive instructions and tips will equip you with the knowledge to accomplish this task efficiently and effectively.
Stretching a wire fence requires several materials to ensure a secure and sturdy installation. The exact materials you need can vary depending on the specific type of wire fence you're working with, the length of the fence, and the terrain it's being installed on. Here's a general list of materials you might need:
The foundation of a well-stretched fence begins with the proper installation of corner, line, and brace posts. Corner posts anchor the fence at its endpoints, providing stability. Line posts are evenly spaced along the fence line to support the structure. Brace posts, placed diagonally between corner and line posts, add extra reinforcement. These posts form the structural framework on which the fence tension relies. Careful placement and secure anchoring ensure the fence's resilience. By meticulously setting up these foundational elements, you establish the groundwork for a durable and sturdy fence capable of withstanding tension and environmental factors.
Before applying tension, establish stability by creating a temporary support system known as a dummy brace. A dummy brace is a temporary brace that is used to transfer tension through the end of the fence line. This allows you to stretch the fence material without having to worry about the end of the fence sagging. The dummy brace acts as a crucial intermediary, ensuring that tension is distributed uniformly when you apply pressure during the stretching process. This step paves the way for a secure and professionally tensioned fence, enhancing its durability and overall performance.
Once the dummy brace is installed, you can begin drilling holes for bracing. Bracing is important to help prevent the fence from sagging or collapsing. In this step, mark and drill holes in the line posts and coordinate cross pieces. Accurate hole placement ensures effective bracing, distributing tension evenly and preventing fence failure. These holes act as anchor points for the brace pins, reinforcing the fence's stability and providing a solid foundation for the entire structure. Remember, attention to detail during this stage contributes to the long-term integrity of your fence.
Once the holes for bracing are drilled, you can attach the brace pins. Brace pins are used to hold the cross-piece between posts and provide stable and secure bracing. As you attach the pins at the designated points, you ensure a strong and steady bracing system that prevents sagging and maintains the fence's structural integrity. This simple yet pivotal step contributes to the overall stability of the fence, enhancing its ability to withstand external pressures. By properly installing and utilizing brace pins, you're reinforcing the foundation of your fence and setting the stage for successful stretching in subsequent steps.
Positioning and Unrolling Fence Material might seem simple at first glance, but it is a crucial step that sets the foundation for the entire fence. Start by positioning the field fence parallel to the designated fence line from a corner post. Once the positioning has been established, unrolling the fence material becomes the next challenge. This is often a two-person job, requiring coordination and communication to ensure smooth progress. As you unroll the fence material, make sure to keep it taut. You can use a come-along or a ratchet strap to help you stretch the fence material.
Once the fence material is unrolled and positioned at the first line post, you can begin tacking it in place. Use a hammer and fencing staples to secure the fence material to the post every 6-8 inches. Once the fence material is tacked in place, you can secure it with more staples. You can also use wire ties or baling wire to secure the fence material to the post. Ensure the fence is aligned properly and level with the ground. This crucial step prevents the fence from shifting during tensioning and ensures a solid foundation for the stretching process. By securing the fence at the corner post, you lay the groundwork for a well-aligned and properly tensioned fence.
After securing the fence material to the corner post, you will need to wrap and strip the wires. This will help to secure the fence material to the post and prevent it from sagging. Wrap excess material around the corner post to maintain tension and prevent sagging. Use a hammer to drive the staples into the post every 6-8 inches. Once the fence material is secured to the post, you can trim any excess material. By stripping and tightly fastening vertical wires around the horizontals, you prevent wire displacement and maintain the fence's integrity.
When dealing with longer fence lines, seamless integration is key. Splicing fence sections allows for a continuous and unbroken barrier. You can choose between manual hand splicing or the convenience of mechanical methods, like fence clips or hog rings. Overlapping the fence material from previous sections ensures a secure connection. This step guarantees that your fence's strength isn't compromised by joints or weak points, creating a cohesive and dependable boundary. Properly spliced fence sections contribute to the fence's overall stability and effectiveness, providing a durable solution for your enclosure needs.
Once the fence material is secured at the corner post, you can attach the stretcher bar and come along. The stretcher bar is a tool that helps you to apply even tension to the fence material. The come along is a lever-operated tool that can be used to apply a great deal of force. Attach the stretcher bar near a corner post, providing a sturdy anchor point. Then, connect the come along, a versatile tool, to the stretcher bar and the dummy brace wire. As you operate the come along, it gradually tightens the fence material, applying controlled pressure. This dynamic duo—stretcher bar and come along—ensures even tension distribution along the fence line.
Once the come-along is attached to the fence material, you can begin ratcheting it to apply tension. Ratchet the come along slowly and carefully, alternating between each side of the fence material to apply even pressure. As you ratchet the come along, check to make sure that the fence material is remaining taut and that the posts are remaining stable. If the fence material begins to sag or the posts begin to lean, stop ratcheting and adjust the fence material accordingly. Once the fence material is taut and the posts are stable, you can secure the come-along in place.
Once the fence material is attached to the posts, you can begin tightening and aligning the fence line. Use the come-along to apply tension to the fence material and gradually pull it taut. As you tighten the fence material, make sure to align it evenly from post to post. You can use a level to help you ensure that the fence is straight. Be cautious not to overstretch the fence, as this can lead to the weakening of the wire material and compromise its integrity. Aim for a balanced tension that keeps the fence taut without excessive strain.
After securing the first corner post and achieving proper tension and alignment, it's time to move on to the opposite corner post. This step involves wrapping the fence material around the post and securing it to ensure stability and consistency throughout the fence line. Begin by securing the middle wires of the fence to the opposite corner post. This creates a central anchor point that serves as a reference for the rest of the wrapping process. From the middle wires, work your way up and down the corner post, wrapping the fence material around it. Use fence staples or other appropriate fasteners to secure the wires to the post.
In this step, you'll focus on securing the horizontal wires of your fence to each of the line posts along the fence line. Before securing, ensure that the horizontal wires are properly aligned and parallel to the ground. Adjust them if needed to maintain uniformity. Utilize fence staples or appropriate fasteners to secure the horizontal wires to the line posts. Place the staples at regular intervals, ensuring that the wires are held firmly in place. This step ensures that the entire fence structure remains strong and capable of effectively containing or excluding whatever it's designed for.
As you wrap up your wire fence stretching project, the final step involves tidying up the work area and ensuring that all elements are properly secured and organized. Carefully release the tension on the come-along tool and detach it from the fence. Take down any temporary braces that were used during the stretching process. Using wire cutters or appropriate tools, trim any excess fence material that might be hanging off the posts or corners. With the area cleaned and the fence stretched successfully, take a moment to appreciate your accomplishment.
Stretching a wire fence without tools like a fence stretcher or come-along can be achieved using basic techniques. First, attach one end of the fence to a secure anchor point. Then, use your body weight and strength to gradually pull the fence in the opposite direction while keeping it as taut as possible. You can also tie the free end to a heavy vehicle or object, carefully driving or moving it to create tension. Regular adjustments and knots can help maintain the tension. However, using proper tools ensures safety and better results, as manual methods might not be as effective or safe. If you don't feel comfortable stretching, you can also take easier steps to fill gaps in wire fences, or include simple add-ons to make them look better.
The amount of time it takes to stretch a wire fence will vary depending on the length of the fence and the type of fence material you're using. However, it typically takes about 30 minutes to stretch a short fence and up to 2 hours to stretch a long fence. However, larger or more complex installations could require more time, possibly spanning multiple days. Efficient equipment and experienced individuals can expedite the process, while the terrain and weather conditions might also influence the duration.
A fence stretcher is used to tighten and secure fencing materials. Place the stretcher's jaws on the fence wire, then use its lever or ratchet mechanism to increase tension. Attach the opposite end to an anchor point, like a post, and gradually tighten until the desired tension is achieved. This process removes slack and enhances the fence's stability. Release the stretcher and fasten the fence to the anchor point. Regularly check tension and adjust as needed for optimal fence performance and durability.