Here in Indiana farmland isn’t cheap and big farmers surround us. Fencing is a must-have (see our recent Saturday Chores! post) and as with any wire-run fence there are certain things that must be done right if it is to withstand the test of time for even a few years.
-Posts need to be set properly.
-Fencing needs to be chosen appropriate to your application.
-Supporting posts must be placed between corner/tension-posts (load-bearing posts).
The list of considerations could go on and on but there is one piece of often-forgotten or neglected equipment any fence-runner must have when running wire fence: a good fence-stretcher! In case you don’t know, a fence-stretcher is exactly what it sounds like: a tool for pulling a wire based fence as tight as possible so it both looks nice and functions as well as possible. If you want your fence to do its job well you cannot get by without one. Pull the fence tight by hand and fasten it to a your tension-post but no matter how strong you think you might be….you will have one sloppy fence and critters will go running.
The other day though I found myself missing this crucial tool. My posts were set, the wire rolled out and I had staples and hammer in hand. Everything was going well until I went to look for my fence stretcher and realized….I didn’t have it anymore! Unwilling to make a run to town I decided it was time to improvise and well….the rest is history.
DIY: Improvised Fence-Stretcher/Puller
First things first, even improvisation needs a few things:
- Two well-set corner/tension posts capable of taking the load of the new fence.
- The fencing in question
- Something sturdy to pull the fence tight on before fastening it to the second corner post.
- A piece of 2×4 or other strong board.
-  ratchet straps or  strap and a come-along.
The first three are (hopefully) self-explanatory. Numbers 4 and 5 are (respectively) for spreading the force of the pull out so as to avoid damaging fence and actually pulling the fence tight. Before we begin pulling fence make sure one end of your run is securely fastened to a corner post.
I tried to take photos was working alone so I apologize if things are perfectly clear. Feel free to ask questions if you need!
Start by laying the 2×4 on the ground and the un-anchored side of the fence on top of it. I’d suggest placing the board as close to the middle as possible if it is shorter than the fence is tall.
Take the longest of your straps and weave it around the board and the fence, working down the length until you near the end of the 2×4 (see above). Be sure to leave a ‘tail’ [right side of photo] and an equally long bit of slack on the opposite side as well [left side of photo].
Take the ‘tail’ from before and pull it to the left, looping it under the furthermost weave. Take all the slack from it and fold it over to the right again as shown in the image above.
Weave the slack (left side of image 2) back over where you’ve weaved before, being sure to cross the folded ‘tail’ at least three times. Pull all slack out of the strap so it is tight against the board. It should look something like the image above.
Hook up your ratchet strap or come-along and begin tightening the fence. Go slow for safety!! Pull the fence as tight as needed, staple/fasten fence to your load-bearing post and slowly release your ratchet/come-along. Loosen the weave and the 2×4 falls right out, the strap untangles and you’re ready to do it again!
Knowing how this works from a physics-standpoint will help you in learning how to make it actually work. The goal of this tool is to spread an applied force out by taking advantage of the first Law of Friction. Essentially we are making the strap stick to itself (whilst wrapped around the 2×4 which in turn spreads the force applied so as to prevent damaging the fence and provide and even stretch.