Zeb Gray sent us photos of some of his new fences, including an interesting one on how he braces and sets his H corner posts. Zeb is getting his master degree in Animal Science at Iowa State and builds fence and helps manage his parents’ farm in Iowa during the summer breaks.
Zeb sets his hedge posts [Osage Orange] at least 5’ deep. He builds fences by himself so he has developed a way to set the braces without help. He attaches a chain and come-along on top and then places a steel brace between the set corner post and the untamped brace post. Then he uses the come-along to snug the brace up tight and tamps the brace post. The steel braces are common in his area farm stores and sell for around $20. The braces are angled on the end and attached to the corner and brace post with lag screws.
Here are some things in the photos that show Zeb’s attention to detail in properly building a corner post:
- In the first photo, the guide wire is pulled from the center of the cornerpostwhich allows him to properly place the brace post. It also eliminates any side pressure from being applied to the corner post when the wire is stretched. The brace post should be aligned so that it doesn’t interfere with the tightened wire from the center of one corner post to the center of the other corner post.
- Zeb has built a cone of dirt around the posts so that as the dirt settles it will be level or slightly raised around the post. No matter how well a hole is tamped, the dirt will often settle over the years which can funnel water down the post and cause premature rot.
- The horizontal brace is the strongest design for a brace assembly. This is often a debate among farmers about which way to place the brace and while all of them can and do work, engineers have proven that a properly built H brace is the strongest. The N or diagonal brace – starting high on the corner and anglingdown to the brace post – is popular, but it can work as a jack to pull your corner post out of the ground.
- In the second photo, you can see he has notched a groove for the bracewire rather than stapling the wire to the post. The brace wire is a key to making certain the brace post does its job in keeping the corner post assembly tied together and strong, keeping it from pulling. When looking at old corner posts, you can often see staples coming loose. This allows the brace wire to slip and the corners to pull. By cutting a shallow groove for the brace wire, you ensure that it stays in place keeping the whole assembly tied together and strong over the years.
Hedge or Osage Orange posts, while not always straight, have a life span of 50-100 years and properly built corners using these posts as Zeb has done, almost assures you of leaving your completed corner for the next generation or beyond. Hedge is also self-insulating, much like the old Gallagher Insultimber and is the best choice for wood posts for electric fencing if it’s available in your area. Thank you for the great photos and information, Zeb.