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Re: installing stockyard fence

With a screen name of Fencepost, I should know a thing or two about this subject. (But it might be limited to just that -- a thing or two. Not sure about three.) Anyway, here are my observations with regard to wire fences.

Soil. The soil you are putting the posts in certainly will make a difference in how you do it. Wood posts can be directly embedded in well-drained soil and probably last a good while. Very loose soil may not provide sufficient support for wood or driven steel posts; concrete may be necessary to increase the solid surface area enough to provide good support. Extremely rocky soil may be impossible to drive steel posts into.

Wood posts. Only posts made of naturally rot-resistant species of wood should be used untreated. Along the west coast, this is typically old-growth cedar or redwood. In drier climates (from the Cascades & Sierras through the Rocky Mountains), pine is commonly used. (Second growth cedar and redwood don't have sufficient rot resistance.) Otherwise, the wood should be treated.

Metal posts. Driven posts work well for line posts, but corner posts should be cemented in. Metal posts typically don't have sufficient size for corner posts just being backfilled & tamped in.

Cement. If you ever have to replace a post that's been cemented in, steel or wood, you will curse the installer (unless you have a machine to pull it out with).

Corners. The corner/end posts and gateposts are the most important. They must be properly braced to counteract the tension of wires and weight of gates. There are many styles of bracing. My preferred method is to place two sturdy posts 6-8 feet apart, and place a sturdy crossmember horizontally between them near the top of the posts. A tension wire (11 gauge galvanized steel) is looped from the bottom of the corner post to the top of the brace post. The tension loop is then twisted until it is snug (not floppy). This will counteract the tension of the wires when the wires are tensioned. There is no need for a tension loop to be installed from the top of the corner post to the bottom of the brace post -- there's nothing for it to balance.

Gates. Gate posts are done similarly to corner posts, except that you need two diagonal tension loops: from the top of the gate post to the bottom of the brace post to counteract gate weight, as well as one from the bottom of the gate post to the top of the brace post to counteract fence tension. (Forming an X.)

Curves. Don't build curves in a fence. A curve will result in a saggy fence. Only do straight runs; if you need to make a slight turn, make a slight corner (one corner post with a brace post on each side, and corresponding crossmembers and tension loops).

Long runs. In a very long straight run of fence, it may be desirable to install a tension brace. This is just like a gate post, with two substantial posts, a crossmember, and an X-pair of tension loops.

Wire stretcher. Yes, they do exist and it's one of the better tools invented for tensioning fence wire. There are a couple of styles: rope and ratchet.

This would all be easier to explain in a YouTube video, but I don't have any fence to build right now so you'll have to try your luck figuring it out.


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