T-posts, brace posts and netwire make up the bulk of your fence. After this step, you'll be able to see all the fruits of your hard work coming to life. Learn how to build a fence for your hobby farm with this step by step blog series. First step: plan the fence line. Second step: how to build an h-brace. Third step: In-Line Posts & Stringing Wire.
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Welcome to step 3 of the how to build a farm fence series! If you have not already read Step 1: Plan the Fence Line, and Step 2: How to Build an H-brace go back and read those first. After you know where your fence will be, have cleared the fence line, and built your H-braces, in-line posts and stringing the wire is up next.
In-Line Posts & Stringing Wire
T-posts, brace posts and netwire make up the bulk of your fence. For wire fencing, your in-line posts will consist of t-posts and wooden or metal brace posts. We used round wooden posts 4"in diameter for our in-line brace posts.
Remember, your materials list from Step 1 of the blog series.
H-brace Posts (8' 6" diameter)
In-Line Posts (6' 3-5" diameter)
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In addition to the materials that will be a part of the actual fence, you will also need the following additional materials:
Fencing Pliers (at least two of these so work can be done simultaneously)
Screwdriver or T-clip tool
In-Line Strainer Handle
Cordless Drill & bits sized to the holes you will drill for the brace pins in your H-brace as well as the bolts for the gates into the posts.
Stakes and orange string to mark the fence line
Auger (hand or gas powered), Shovels, Post-hole digger, and -- if you are unfortunate enough to sit on rock like we do -- a jackhammer
Fence Post Driver
Come Along to stretch wire (two if you are stretching high-tensile wire)
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STEP 1: STRING BARBED WIRE
It is always a good idea to string one line of barbed wire at the bottom of your fence to deter small animals from digging or trying to squeeze under the fence. This can be about one inch off the ground. The barbed wire also serves another essential purpose when building your fence -- once pulled tight and tied off, it is exactly where your fence line will be and an excellent marker to make sure you put your in-line posts in the correct spot so your fence is nice and straight.
The barbed wire will be strung from the edge H-brace post on one end to the outermost H-brace post on the other end of the stretch of fence. Wrap the barbed wire around the edge post twice, tack it to the H-brace post with a staple and twist it over itself as tightly as possible with fencing pliers or by hand. Wrapping about 5 times should be good. Where the barbed wire is wrapped around the post should be between the twitch wire and the ground (about 1"above the ground). Unroll the barbed wire to the other edge H-brace.
Before cutting the wire, attach this handy gripper tool to the barbed wire about two feet before the post where you will tie it. Hook the come along to the gripper tool and stretch the barbed wire tight so it is a straight line from one fence post to the other. Cut the wire with enough left past the gripper tool to wrap it twice around the post and tie it off by twisting it over itself at least 5 times. Once it is tied on both ends, loosen the come along and detach the gripper tool from the barbed wire.
STEP 2: DETERMINE LOCATION OF POSTS
Now that your barbed wire is marking the fence line, you just have to decide how far apart you want each t-post and brace post. Most wire fencing suggests t-posts every 10-12 feet and a in-line brace post every 100-150'. We chose to do t-posts every 10' and a brace post every 100', so our fence line has (9) t-posts between each brace post. You can adjust this as needed to best utilize the bracing from your H-braces. For example, if you have between 110 and 200' of fencing, just place your brace post in the middle of the stretch of fence. If your stretch of fence is less than 100', you probably don't need an in-line brace post for that stretch.
Instead of marking the posts with spray paint, we laid out the posts as we measured, but if you don't have the posts yet, marking the t-post locations with a dot of spray paint, and the in-line brace posts with a small X, is a good idea.
STEP 3: DIG HOLES, SET IN-LINE BRACE POSTS & DRIVE T-POSTS
For the brace posts, you will need to dig a hole at least 2' deep. Remember, you want the wire on the side of the fence where the animals will be (or where the biggest animals will be). Dig the holes on the barbed wire fence line so that when you level the vertical posts they line up with the barbed wire so that it just touches the edge of the post -- where you will tack the fence wire to the posts. You can fill the hole with concrete, but we chose to fill it with the dirt from the hole so that there was sufficient drainage to keep water from seeping in and rotting the wooden post. If you are filling the hole with dirt, all of the dirt that came out of the hole should fit back in around the post. While the post is being held still in place leveled on all sides, shovel a few inches of dirt into the hole and then tamp down the dirt so it is tightly packed in the hole and around the post. Repeat this a few inches at a time until the hole is filled and the post is set.
For the t-posts, use a t-post driver to pound the posts into the ground. Make sure the side with the little teeth notches face where the wire will be. Make these as straight with the fence line as possible, but you don't need to stress too much.
STEP 4: STRING NETWIRE
Time to string wire! First, roll out the wire on the side of the posts where it will be attached. If your stretch of fence is longer than the amount that comes in the roll, you will need to splice the wire together using wire splices (make sure to get the right gauge for your fence wire, often the top and bottom wires are a larger gauge than the middle wires) and a fence splicer tool.
Once the wire is rolled out, cut the vertical wire between each horizontal wire so that you have enough horizontal wire cut free to wrap around the outermost H-brace post once with room to tie it off to itself by wrapping it around itself at least 5 times tightly (allow for about 2' of freed horizontal wire for tying depending on the width of your H-brace post). Once you have cut all the vertical wires with fencing pliers, twist and pull the cut pieces off the horizontal wire so that you have the full length of smooth wire to wrap. (This part is so tedious and a major pain, so I recommend getting a portable speaker and playing your favorite music to make it more tolerable 🙃).
Starting with the bottom wire, place it where you want the bottom of your fence to start, wrap it around the post and then use your hands or fencing pliers to tightly wrap the excess wire around itself so it is tightly wrapped and secured around the post. Use barbed staples to tack the netwire to the side of the H-brace in about 4 places. Do not hammer it all the way in -- leave room for the wire to move a bit against the post. Going up one horizontal strand at a time, repeat the process you did to wrap and tie the bottom wire until you have tied each strand of the fence to the post.
At the other end of this stretch of fence, before cutting the wire from the roll, it is time to stretch (tension) the wire. Attach a fence stretcher (like this) to the fence about where it is about even with or past the last H-brace post. (You will need it to stretch past the brace far enough to cut and wrap the horizonal wire like you just did.) With chain, attach the stretcher to two come alongs that are fixed to a truck, tractor or other sturdy stationary object. Tighten the come alongs together until you cannot stretch the fence any more. While stretching, make sure the wire is lined up against your H-brace. If it is off at an angle, it will be impossible for you to wrap and tie it off tightly once it is tensioned unless it is right up against the post.
With the netwire tightly tensioned, use barbed staples to tack the netwire to the post as you did before. Next, beginning in the center of the netwire, cut the middle horizontal wire strand so that you have enough room to wrap it around the post once, and tie it off to itself by wrapping it around itself at least 5 times tightly (just like you did before). Remember, only cut and tie off one horizontal strand at a time so that the majority of the wire stays tensioned by the stretcher and come alongs. Cut the vertical wires and twist and pull the excess off just as you did before. Wrap the freed wire around the H-brace post and tie it off. Repeat this one wire at a time moving out toward each edge so that the middle is totally tied off before cutting the top and bottom wires. Once you cut and tie off the top and bottom wires, you are done with your stretcher and come alongs.
Use 4-6 t-clips depending on the height of your fence and t-posts to attach the netwire to each t-post. Use barbed staples to tack the netwire to the wooden in-line brace posts and other H-brace posts, leaving room for the wire to move a bit against the post. Once you have attached the netwire to all in-line posts, you are done!
Bekaert Fencing has a wonderful YouTube video on how to stretch a wire fence that I definitely recommend!
Woohoo the hard part is done!
Next up: Step 4 of the series, Hanging Gates.
Missed Step 1: Planning the Fence Line? Go back and read it here.
Missed Step 2: How to Build an H-brace? Go back and read it here.