How to install a wire fence on uneven ground

Written by dave p. fisher
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How to install a wire fence on uneven ground
A T post fence running along the rock fence shows how the posts follow the contour of the land. (stone fence image by michael langley from Fotolia.com)

A wire fence is generally constructed with steel T posts and four or five strands of barbed wire. Wooden posts are set at the corners as well as every 100 feet for wire support. This type of fence is often constructed over uneven ground with dips and hills to contend with. In spite of the terrain, the wire always follows the lay of the land and each post is set in at the same depth, which will make the posts appear uneven, but the end result is that the fence will be at the same height its entire length.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Leather gloves
  • Pressure treated wooden posts -- 6- by 6-inches by 8 feet long
  • Post hole digger
  • Tamping bar
  • Shovel
  • Fence post level
  • Construction string
  • Tape measure
  • Steel T posts -- 6 1/2 foot long, number 133
  • T post driver
  • Barbed wire
  • Hammer
  • Fence staples -- 1 1/2 inch
  • Fence splicer/stretcher
  • Fencing pliers
  • T post clips

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Set the wooden posts at the two ends of the proposed fence line. Using the post hole digger, dig a hole 3 feet deep, drop the post in the hole so that one of the sides is aligned with the proposed fence line. Strap the post level onto an upper corner of the post to keep it straight and tamp the dirt in hard around the post until the post is solid and the hole is filled.

  2. 2

    Tie the construction string to one post, coming off the side that will be the inside of the fence, and run the string from one end post to the other, pull it tight 2 feet above the ground and tie it off to the opposite post. This is the line all the posts will align on.

  3. 3

    Measure 100 feet along the proposed fence line from one of the end posts and set in a wooden post in the same manner. Work from the inside side of the proposed fence line, the post must go behind and just barely touching the string, which puts the string between you and the post. Set in a wooden post every 100 feet until the opposite end is reached, measure the 100 feet at the string level no matter what the lay of the land is.

  4. 4

    Start at one end and drive a T post into the ground every 10 feet. Set the posts behind the string so the side with the knobs is facing the inside of the fence and just barely touching the string. Drive the posts down using the steel post driver until the top end of the attached spade is just under the ground, no matter what the lay of the land is drive each post in only to the top of the spade and measure the 10-foot increments along the string.

  5. 5

    Take a measurement on one of the T posts from the ground to the top of the fourth knob up. Measure that amount on one of the corner posts from the ground up and mark it, wrap the end of the barbed wire around the post on that mark. Adjust the wire so that it comes off the post on the inside of the fence; anchor the wire to the post by driving a fence staple over the wire on all four sides.

  6. 6

    Slide a round stick or pipe through the centre of the barbed wire spool and unwind the wire from the spool as it is carried to the corner post at the opposite end of the fence line. At the same measurement as the wire on the opposite end post, hook the fence splicer/stretcher to the post by hooking the end of it on the far side of the post from the incoming wire.

  7. 7

    Pull the wire strand toward you, hold the stretcher in place on the post, open the clamp on the end of the stretcher, lay the wire in the open clamp and close the clamp. Begin ratcheting the handle on the stretcher, pulling the wire tighter until it cannot be pulled any tighter.

  8. 8

    Walk to the opposite end of the fence where the wire is tied to the post and begin clipping the wire strand to the T posts. Do this by lifting the wire to the top of the fourth knob up from the ground, hook the hooked end of the clip over the top of the wire on your left side, bring the pointed end around the back of the post and lay the looped end of the clip over the wire on the right side of the post. Twist the clip loop over the top of the wire and bend it back under locking the strand inside the clip.

  9. 9

    Continue down the fence line clipping the bottom wire to the top of the fourth knob on all the T posts. Anchor the wire strand to the wooden posts along the line by driving two staples over the wire and hammering them completely into the post. No matter what the lay of the land is, clip all T posts on the fourth knob.

  10. 10

    Tie the end of the wire off to the corner post as with the beginning post and cut the strand free from the spool with the fence pliers. Set all the strands of wire in the same manner. Four strands is the usual number for a field fence, put each strand up the post with five post knobs between each strand. For five strands of wire, leave four knobs between strands.

Tips and warnings

  • The temptation in building a wire fence on uneven ground is to try and make the tops of all the posts level. This will result in some posts being set too deep, making them too short, and others that will be only inches in the ground, making them too weak to hold up. Let the wire follow the contour of the land, the end result is that wherever you stand at the fence it will be the same height.
  • Should you have a ditch or dry wash under the fence line that puts the bottom strand too high, leaving a wide hole under the fence, drive a T post into the low spot and run the wire down to it from one side, clip it, and bring it up to the next post on the other side.
  • Put the wire strands on starting from the bottom going up. If you start at the top and go down you will be putting your face against the barbed wire while putting on the lower strands, a very dangerous position to be in.
  • Building this type of fence is easier with two people working; one can hold posts while the other fills the holes. Carrying a spool of wire is easier if there is a person on each end of the stick.
  • Working with barbed wire is always dangerous as the barbs are sharp and strands can break if stretched too tight or there is a weak spot in the wire resulting in the wire snapping and wrapping itself around anything or anyone near. Work cautiously and always wear leather gloves, long trousers and boots.
  • Building a fence is hard work and handling heavy wire spools and posts requires strength, be sure you are in good physical condition before undertaking this job.

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