An in-line fence tensioner, also known as an in-line strainer or fence ratchet, is an indispensable tool for building certain types of fences. Without the mechanical advantage offered by this tool, placing the wire strands of a barbed wire, barbless wire or electrified fence under rigidly high tension would be impossible. Sometimes setting up an in-line fence tensioner can prove complicated, but otherwise using the tool is straightforward.
Choose and set up an anchor point for the fence tensioner. The tensioner must be anchored to a point outside the fence line, so the wire can be attached to all the fence posts under tension. This point must be aligned with the string of fence posts to keep the wire straight. In most cases, that means setting an extra fence post and bracing it with a diagonal crossbeam. If rocky ground prevents that, you could anchor the tensioner to the front of a pickup truck.
Attach the in-line fence tensioner to the anchor by wrapping its strap about the anchor and buckling it down. Some tensioners use wire for this job. In this case, thread a crimping sleeve onto the wire, loop the wire around the anchor, thread the wire back into the crimping sleeve and squeeze the sleeve with pliers to tighten.
Tie down the first wire to be placed under tension to the anchor post at the other end of the fence line. Loop the wire around the post, thread it through a pair of crimping sleeves and tighten with pliers. String the line of wire down the fence line and back to the tensioner.
Attach the wire to the fence tensioner. Attach it using the same crimping sleeve technique as in steps 2 and 3.
Crank the ratchet on the fence tensioner to tighten the wire. Test the wire by plucking it with your fingers. When it has a quarter-inch of give, it is under high tension.