Farmers use metal posts, often called steel posts or T-posts, as part of barbed wire fence projects. The posts install quicker than wood posts, reducing the labour costs associated with the fence project, and have wire clips on which to attach the barbed wire. However, they are more susceptible to damage from livestock pushing on the fence, prompting some farmers to use wood for every second or third post to provide more stability. Building a fence using steel posts requires some specialised tools, but falls within the abilities of anyone familiar with fence construction.
Mark the corner locations for the fence project. Use stakes or drive the metal posts in the ground using a post driver. The post driver is a metal tube closed on one end. The driver is fitted over the end of the post, and worked up and down, striking the top of the post and driving it into the ground. Drive the post into the ground until the braces at the bottom of the post are below the surface of the ground.
Drive a second post about five feet from the corner post along the line of the intended fence. Fit a brace between the top of the corner post and the bottom of the second post. The brace commonly is another steel post but any wood or metal rod of the same length can be used. Commercial brackets are available to attach the braces to the steel posts. Alternatively, use wooden posts for the corner post assembly and use metal posts for the rest of the fence posts.
Drive a steel fence post about every 20 feet along the fence line. Stretch a string from corner to corner or sight from corner to corner to place the posts in a straight line. Place the knobbed side of the T-post on the inside of the fence.
Unroll the barbed wire along the line of the fence posts. Fasten the wire to one of the corner posts and pull it as tightly as possible to the next corner post. Use a wire stretcher, a mechanical ratchet device, to pull the wire tighter.
Fasten the barbed wire to each of the metal posts along the fence line. The fence clip wraps around the post and wire. Place the handle of a pliers or blade of a screwdriver through the loop at the end of the clip. Use the tool for leverage to turn the loop, tightening the clip around the wire and post. The knobs of the post prevent the wire from sliding up or down the post.
Repeat the process, adding each of the three to five wires that commonly comprise a barbed wire fence.