If you have built other types of fence (barbed or woven) then you will most likely enjoy the ease in which you can put up a high-tensile (HT) electric fence. Below are some of the basics to help you get started off on the right foot. For this article we will be using wood corner posts, seven strands of HT wire and PasturePro line posts. Yes, I realize that this may seem really basic and elementary to you seasoned fence builders, but for the first-timers it should be helpful.
Prepare your fence line: Locate your corners and clear out all debris, brush and obstacles before you begin your fence building. Preferably, a wide enough pathway should be cleared so that you can drive down the entire fence. Fill and level as necessary.
Set end and corner assemblies: These are essential on all types of fence, and none the less important with a HT fence. As a general recommendation I would suggest setting the end or corner posts, but not the brace post until you have pulled a guide wire.
With the corner posts set, put a mark on the back of the post where your wires will be located, from the ground up. This will tell you where to attach your end strain insulators later. You can drive a fence staple on these to secure and keep them from sliding up and down the wood corner post.
Pull the guide wire: The guide wire will establish a straight fence line from corner to corner. A little extra attention here will assure a good straight fence line. This guide wire will be staying on the fence, so go ahead and tie or crimp on your end strain insulator of choice and mount at the location of your lowest strand of wire, at both ends. Install a wire tensioner and tighten up the guide wire.
Now the most important part of the guide wire – snap it up and down and make sure that it is straight. Go out to the middle of the run and do the same. If you have hills or rises you will need to snap it at these places to get it straight. Now you have a straight line from corner to corner that establishes where your brace posts, gate posts and line posts will go. It doesn’t hurt to drive a post in a little ways in the middle of the line after snapping and then sighting from corner to corner to ensure you are straight.
Set your brace posts: Now that the fence line is established with the guide wire you can locate your brace posts. These may be either a traditional “H” Brace or a Floating Brace.
Install your line posts: You should already know what the spacing between your line posts will be. First I put a mark on the posts indicating the depth I want them in the ground. I usually pace out the distance and lay a PasturePro post at these locations. I generally use a pilot driver for my line posts, or if you have good soil you may not need one. Position your line post according to the guide wire. I pilot the holes with a pilot driver, and drive the posts with a manual post driver. I will continually sight down my post line to make sure that all post are true and straight, making any corrections as I go.
Install end strain insulators: Install the other six end strain insulators at both ends according to the marks we previously made on the corner posts. Use a short length of HT wire to go around the post into your end insulator. Hand knot or crimp the wire connections. You could slip an extra crimp sleeve on the fence wire at this point to already have it in place for installing your jumper wires later.
Drill the line posts: Now is a good time to field drill your PasturePro posts. I generally have a drill guide or make one out of a yard stick or lightweight wooden board that indicates my wire vertical wire spacing. I use a 7/32” or 3/16” bit to drill for the cotter pins. If another person is available to do the drilling, then others can begin pulling your fence wires.
Attach the guide wire to the posts: Now that the line posts are in, the guide wire should be attached to the posts with a cotter pin. This will get it out of your way, as you prepare to pull the other six strands of wire.
Pull the rest of your wires: I have pulled multiple wires at a time, however it is sometimes hard to keep them apart in the grass, so I would advise that if you are just starting out, to just pull one wire at a time. With your spinning jenny at one corner, pull a wire to the other end. Attach to the insulator at the other end.
You can install cotter pins on your way back as well as install a tensioner at the midway point. Now at the other end you can cut the wire and attach to end insulator. You’re ready to pull another wire. When I get to the midpoint I will usually go ahead and tension the previous wire to get it off the ground and out of the way of the next wire. As you go back and forth you can install cotter pins on about every third post, coming back later to install the final cotter pins.
Check wire tension: Now, with all the cotter pins in place you should go out to the midpoint where your tensioners are and recheck your wire tension to make sure that all wires are tightened the same. 150 to 250 foot pounds is all that is required and a slight sag between line posts is acceptable.
Now step back and admire your efforts and you’re ready for the next section. After all the sides are up you can now go back and install jumpers and routing for your electric fence charger for your hot wires.
This procedure is basically the same for coated wire, ropes or high-tensile. With the ropes you will not need an in-line tensioner as you will be tensioning with a rope ratchet.