Fence Contractor Reacts to DIY Chain Link Stretching Technique

– Action! – Boom! Nailed it! I've seen some other people
do this and I thought well, you know what, I
don't know if that's me. And then I stumbled across a video on YouTube the other day and I was thinking I can do this. (upbeat rock music) – So this is a reaction video on a DIYer giving some tips and tricks on what they perceive is the correct method for
stretching chain link fence. And then we'll add our input
as a professional contractor that stretches miles
and miles of chain link. And we'll see how that's differ and we can see what methods maybe he's got some great hacks maybe
some hacks for doing things on the budget conscious method and then we can show you
the tools that we use as professional contractors, and we'll provide some
links to those down below and I'll talk a little bit about those so.

And without further
ado, let's get into this brought to you by Lifey Guy. Like the name too Lifey Guy. – Stretch a chain link fence you need to have three tools. The first tool you will
need is a tension bar. Now this slides right in between inside of the chain link fence loops. The next thing you'll need
is something to attach to a tension bar. So this is like a fence stretcher bar. You can see kind of what it looks like. These three hooks go
around your tension bar and then you will use some
sort of like strap or clamp to wrap through here and pull this tight. Now if you do not want this- – He's doing good so far.

So that is a tension bar
and I hear a lot of people refer to that bar he's talking about as a trust bar or something else like that. We have tension bars
and we have trust rods. Trust rods are used primarily
on commercial fences and they're around rod. And that is for making your diagonal brace component on your bracing for
commercial chain link fences. You don't see them in residential fences. And then the tool he's talking about is what we call a chain link rake. And so it's got rake fingers to grab into the chain link. And the reason that
you use the tension bar in conjunction with the rake is because if you use the rake
without the tension bar you can actually distort the diamonds and it'll pull a little
harder on some of them and distort them and bend
them out a little bit. So if you slide the
tension bar in the wire and then hook the rake
onto the tension bar that's already inserted into the wire, you'll get a nice even
pull all the way across and you won't distort your diamonds.

Usually stretch even like
a six foot tall fence with a rake that's only three feet tall and only has maybe three fingers. Probably a four-foot rake
would be a little bit better but you can make do,
if that's all you have, you can make do with a shorter rake. Just watch how tight you get it. – If you don't wanna
spend about $30 at Menards to buy one of those metal fence stretchers you could do something similar to it using a two by four that's maybe three or four feet long.

On one side you can put in hooks. Three hooks, one at the
top, middle and bottom, sticking out kind of like my fingers sticking out like this. And then on this side of the two by four you could put an eye hook that screws into here and that would also do the trick. Yet another option is you could just convince your line- – Now what he's talking about
is not a bad hack at all. I mean, if your budget and… We live in a small rural
town in Wyoming and when you get ready to
do your chain link fence you may or may not be able to find one of those chain they're great. So what he's talking about is building one out of a two by four, and that's a completely viable option pretty budget conscious I would imagine you could build one for maybe 12 bucks or something like that. You know, you're going to
need a couple bolt hooks or something like that, that you get from the lumberyard, and then just a short chunk of two by four which most people have those
laying around their house so.

– Convinced your linebacker NFL neighbor to pull it for you and just grab the tension
bar and just run with it. That would probably also work. The next item you need is something like a fence stretcher clamp, kind of like this one or a come along or you could even use something
like tow straps, you know? – So what he's holding up right there is a barbed wire stretcher. And while that may work, it would probably work pretty good I'm guessing if you had the two by four because it's square but if you had one of those rakes it's not going to work as well. It's probably gonna be a
little cumbersome to try and use, but in a pinch it would work.

I like the idea of using ratchet straps, which he mentioned here and maybe he's gonna
show us a piece of them but I like the idea of using
a ratchet strap, even better. – You know? Something like, you
know, something like this that you can kind of ratchet that'll get tighter and tighter That has a hook on one side. – So before I go outside-
– Now I love that idea. – To demonstrate how to
stretch a chain link fence, I want to make sure that you know, to be careful to not overstretch
your chain link fence. You're supposed to be able to squeeze one of the chain link
fence diamonds, and have it give a little bit. – [Lifey Guy] Something
like that tensions probably about right where there's
a little bit of give, but not that much. – So if you look- – Two inch ratchet strap
that he's talking about are readily available just about anywhere. The farm store sometimes
have them super cheap. How much you're gonna have to adjust is gonna be dependent upon how much slack you have in your fence.

So if you're stretching a
hundred foot run of fence you may have to stretch
on it a little bit, then let it off pull the slack out of it and then start all over
again and ratchet it again. So just depends on how
much you're pulling. Now, if you have a really short section a lot of times we see short sections next to gates and things like that. If you have a short section there are other tools
that we use to do that. And then on our website we have things called bear
holes, which would be one. And they're just a tool that hooks onto your tension bar
and locks around the post but it's got a little bit of extension. So as you crank it around,
it pulls the fence tight. And that works really
well for short sections. Another tool that we
use as professionals is called a pole jack and we sell those on our website. They're basically a long bar with a rod that goes through it. Kind of like a quick grip clamp. Like 'cause you crank them over, they pull everything together
and make things tighter.

So that works really well
because some of these tools like the bear holds, you have to know exactly how long you want your chain link fence, because once you slide
the tension bar in there and then you crank that bear hold over, you aren't gonna be able to unweave a straw if it's a little bit too long. On the pole jacks you
can actually hook it on way further back, pull your fence tight and then have some slack wires here or some slack chain link.

Just basically pull it to
the tension that you want and then figure out
which diamond to break. And then unweave one,
put your tension bar in hook it all up and then have
that loose slack to play with. So, two different ways of looking at it and having that loose slack definitely makes it a little bit easier to make up your fence and get all the bolts and the tension bands and
things like that on, so. – If you look here, my fence is actually a little too tight probably one ratchet too tight. I don't know if you can see here, but it looks like this diamond might be a little bit wider than the rest. That might've happened because I used a little bit too much tension. One thing to keep in mind is- – If he hooked that tensioner or his rake into that piece it could have distorted it
just a little bit like that.

Usually what we see is
if you overstretch it the fence will actually start shrinking especially if you buy a
really cheap, low grade fence which is what most of the big box stores will sell you is an 11 and a half gauge product. And some of them will even sell you a 12 and a half gauge
product, which is really bad. But what'll happen is if you overstretch the fence will actually start to shrink and the diamonds will oblong. You usually don't get
one diamond in the middle that oblongs. It's usually a whole series of diamonds that will start to stretch out. The other thing he doesn't talk about is if you overstretch your fence it makes it really hard to dress it out. If you've ever gone by a chain link fence and the top rail is all nice and flowing but the chain link looks like this that's because somebody
didn't dress it out.

And if you overstretch the wire then it makes it really
difficult to grade that out and make that top of those diamonds look very uniform and
flow with the top rail so that it's all flowing. What we do in our company and the standard in the industry is to have the top diamond, have the
middle of the top diamond lineup with the middle of your rail. So you've got about half a diamond sticking up above your top rail. When you go to build your
fence, you'll see that it especially if it's
galvanized after weaving it will not want to flow
well, and you'll have to work at it a little bit to kind of grade that out.

We sell some tools on our website that also help people do that. They're called top rail dressers. And then we have a foot dresser. 'Cause sometimes you need
to pull down on the wire and when we get to our
really tall, heavy duty wires it can be tough. And so we use what we call a foot rake and you can stand on the wire it hooks into the wire and
then you can stand on it and pull the wire down or push it down with your feet. – One thing to keep in mind is to always have your
nice side of your fence the smooth side, and all the nice side of your bolts facing outward to your neighbors.

Once you get the fence mesh rolled out- – I don't disagree with that at all. All of your bolts and
everything, no matter what you do the chain link is gonna be
on the outside of the pipe or on the outside of your yard. So the inside all the
bolts point into your yard. One of the things that
drive us professionals nuts is when we see people and they'll put some of the bolts pointing out,
some of them pointing in. And I always tell my guys, if you're gonna do something wrong, at
least be consistent at it.

So if all of your bolts are wrong at least make them all wrong, but it's better to have all your bolts pointing into your yard and make sure that everything's
really good and uniform. – All, you know, 50 feet of it or so you want to stretch it by hand and pull it kind of nice and tight and nice and vertical flat
up against the line posts.

You then can take some
wires and attach them to the top rail to help the fence hug the top rail. And these should not be
right next to the line post 'cause you're going to
be stretching the fence and if it moves too far you don't want it to hit the top rail cap on top of the line posts. It's important to note that when you are attaching a line post to your chain link mesh to use at least three wire ties to loop around your fence and to attach it to the line post at
the top, middle and bottom. – Okay, so what he's
saying there is, right. That would be absolutely 100% correct for a four-foot fence. The rule that we use in the standard specs in the industry for attaching your wire to your pipe is it needs to be 24 inches on
center for your top rail.

So every 24 inches you need to tie and then on your posts on the line posts, and
then on your tension bar the tension bands need to be
spaced at 15 inches apart. No greater than 15 inches apart. And that same rule
applies to your post ties. So the post ties needed to be no greater than 15 inches apart. So if you want to build it like they require us to
build it in the industry then it's no more than 15
inch spacing on your ties for your posts and no more than two feet for your ties on your top rail. If you'll notice in that video,
one of the things you saw is I've seen, a lot of people do this but they'll actually tie off their fence so that the top of the chain link is even with the top of the top rail.

Now, if that's your preference,
that's totally okay. But you need to think
about that ahead of time because you may have to set
your posts a little bit taller. And the industry what we do is we set our posts three inches lower than the height of the fabric. So if I'm setting a 48 inch tall fence and it's going over grass
or dirt, then we'll set the or we'll mark our line posts and set them a minimum of 45
inches out off the ground.

If they're 46 inches off the ground I know my wire's gonna
be about an inch high. The terminal post will
be four inches taller than the line posts. So the terminal posts
would be four-foot-one. That's the minimum they need
to be out of the ground. Unless I want to start
digging and trenching. – That gives you those three points to distribute all that
tension that's built up between the prior post and
your subsequent line post.

If you don't do this, like say if you did the top
and middle but not the bottom you can just imagine that it would lose all of that tension on the bottom And it would be all loose at the bottom and tight at the top. Now I stretched and assembled
most of the fence last night. What I like to do is I like to go every other post. So I will go, I'll start
at the second line post and stretch the fence and then attach it to the first line post. And then I'll go to the third
line post and stretch it and then I'll attach it
to the second line post. – So you can do that, but
that adds a lot of extra work. What we do as professionals
in the industry is we'll go and stretch an entire side. So the maximum run we'll
stretch is probably 200 feet. We don't like to pull more than 200 feet just because of the friction on the ground and especially when we
get some of the heavier commercial grade wires.

We can start getting some distortion but what we'll do is we'll
stretch 200 feet at a time and we'll pull that
all the way to the end. So rather than stretching every other post which can add a lot of
time to your project, you can go from… In most yards you can
stretch the entire side. So from a gate post all
the way to the corner from a corner post to another quarter post if there is no gate and that speeds you up tremendously just stretching that entire side rather than stretching every other post.

Think about that and if you're using some mechanical devices to help you stretch it, then you're gonna have problems. If you are using your linebacker
friend to help refine it then you may run into some troubles but for the price of a ratchet strap I think I'd probably use
a mechanical advantage to help me accomplish that tension. – But if you wanted to,
you could honestly stretch, you know, from line posts,
four or five down the row and stretch it and assemble multiple line
posts at the same time.

You want to have one extra tension bar than what you actually need. So that way you can use it for stretching but not run out of tension
bars when you need to do the final stretch to secure
it to the terminal post. Okay, let's go outside. – And what he said is 100% true. You will need that extra tension bar If you don't have one of these other items like a bear hold or a pole jack. Those are probably the two
absolute most common tools. And if you have those tools let's say you have two pole jacks and two bear holds, you can
stretch an entire backyard with those two tools alone and
you won't even need a rake.

And we sell those on our website. That's what we use. If we're gonna go into a backyard that's what we're going to use. We don't use any of the
rakes until we start getting into really long runs where
we have to do things by hand. But the pole jacks are
probably the number one tool we use for almost everything. Anytime we're doing great, big long runs and we're doing thousands and thousands of feet of chain link we have attachments that go on our skid-steers that are really speed up the process. But for your backyard a pole jack is, two pole jacks would do the job very well.

– So most people recommend taking your tension wire and running it along the bottom in between the two terminal posts before you attach and stretch your fabric to your fence posts. But I didn't do that, So I'm gonna actually have to weave this tension wire through the bottom in between the line posts. – Okay, as he was walking away, I can see a little bit of
what I'm talking about. I assume that he's
already got this tied off. But you can see a little bit
of that wave over the top rail if you look hard in his video, you can see some of that wave where he needs to just spend a couple minutes and just dress that out a little bit. It looks like he's got a pretty
nice flow with his top rail but he could give it that
real professional look if he took a minute and
just dressed out that chain link to flow
better with the top rail so you don't have those
inconsistencies above it.

Now, what he's saying about tension wire is a 100% true. And he's got what I
assume is probably like a nine gauge smooth wire. And what we use a lot of in residential is a two strand twisted. It's basically a barbless wire that you get at your local farm store and we'll stretch that up post to post. And what that tension wire
does at the bottom of the fence is it helps keep things
from being able to push out because chain link has a lot of give. It doesn't have a lot
of give in the center, but at the top and the bottom,
it can have a lot of give.

And since there's nothing
down there to tie it to if you don't install the bottom rail, that tension wire you can hog ring that tension wire to your fabric and it makes it a lot
harder to push that out for pets and stuff like that. If you have pests that
you're really worried about the next best thing would be
to add another bottom rail in between the line post, right
at the bottom of the fence. And then the step below, beyond that, it'd be to add a anti-dig barrier or concrete mow curb or something like that to help prevent pests from getting out. – And the fabric. And then you use the little hog ties, little pieces of metal wires to kind of secure this wire to the fence fabric.

And that just kind of
helps it to not deform. If someone kicks a soccer ball and it hits the bottom of the fence, or if a animal tries to climb underneath it makes it a little
harder for them to do that. I apologize I don't have a lot of fencing to demonstrate right now but I do need to re-stretch the end here. It's a little too loose you
can see when I squeeze it there's just too much give. – Back there, right when he
was taking about too much give. He is a 100% right. I can see a whole lot
of slack right there. But the other thing I noticed is this terminal post is sticking up a lot further than it needs to. Like I said, I mentioned
before as our terminal posts we usually cut those four inches
taller than our line posts.

So we cut our line posts three inches shorter than the fabric height and then our terminal
posts would be basically one inch taller than the fabric height. That changes a little bit if you're going to add barbed wire and do a commercial fence, but right now what we're talking about is residential. – I'm gonna bend this wire here at the top and kind of
twist it to take this off. And then I'm going to move the fence over about another inch. I'm gonna stretch it and attach it just to add a little bit more tension. 'Cause this is a little bit too
loosey goosey for my liking. Fliers and gloves can come in handy 'cause you have to bend lots
of little pieces of metal. – We like to use what's called
a lineman's pliers or nines.

That's what we use. They also make a special fence plier, but we like just a standard electricians set of lineman pliers. And you can see how he's attaching his tension or running his tension bar through back behind so that
he has all that slack wire. That makes it a ton easier to hook up or do your tie on. Now it looks like he's got
about a three foot rake. The pole jack I was talking about works a lot like one of these only more purpose-built like say this what he's using that stretcher he's using it specifically
for barbed wire. – So since this is the last stretch there's going to be a little bit more give because there's going to
be the slack in between right here in the terminal posts. So it should be a little
bit tighter on this side. So, the tightness combined
with the slack of that side should make it about the right tightness. – Here's another thing to think about is if you're stretching a hundred feet and then you do have that little bit of chain link between your tension bar that
you're stretching with and your posts you're
never going to get that quite as tight.

So that whole run of fence, if you stretch from corner to corner or end to end whatever your end points are you can absorb all that slack when you don't get it quite as tight there at the very end through
the whole run of fence, instead of absorbing it between the terminal post and the next line post. So he's gonna have a really tough time with the tools he has right here to get that really tight. If he had a pole jack, a
pole jack would do that because he could basically pull it by hand and figure out exactly where
he needed to break his wire run his tension bar right
through the end of the chain link then stretch right to that and he'd be able to get that tight.

But with the tools he has here, it's gonna be very difficult. So I'll be interested to see
if he's able to pull it off. – This tension bar, here we go. – And you can see he's got
his tension bar back off the looks like he's got it back off the terminal post a little bit. – Some tension bars have a little hole at
the bottom some don't. If yours does, what you can do is you can bend this open, this bottom loop and then you can kind of use it to kind of make sure tension bar won't slip down. Time to put this- – You can do that when you get into the commercial and industrial world. Our tension bars aren't
usually built like that. And so what we ended up doing with that little tail, that's just
kind of running wild.

We'll trim that off. It's one of those details
that gets overlooked and we think is the mark
of a true professional is just trimming that tail off and then re-knuckling that over so that it looks professional. But he's right, that is to help you so that that tension bar can't slide down. That does get to be a
little bit of a pain. – Tension bands back on and hopefully this is tight enough.

And tighten the nut on before it… Ouch! Squeeze. – What he's hooking onto the tension bar are called tension bands. And there's a difference
between the tension band and the brace band, and if you need help with
that, we have another video so that you know the
difference between the two. – Mesh is a little too
close to the ground, and not quite up to the bar
so now I've got to loosen it and then kind of drag everything up. Okay, so I just kind of repositioned these up
to be a little higher. So that way the very top of the chain link would be kind of right where I want it just above the bar.

Now I'm gonna go ahead and loosen up this clamp by shaking it,
give it a little shake. Woo! and see how the tension is now. – If you just hit that handle over It'll just pop right up You just knock that handle forward And it'll releases that dog.
– Oh yeah. That's what I like. Just a little bit of
give, but not that much. Now I can take this down. Can take this extra attention bar out. – Probably a touch loose for my liking but he did a pretty decent job getting the slack out for what he had.

– The tension wire, I'm gonna have to loop
it in between the mesh and the line posts. – And that's gonna be a pain. Definitely install your tension wire before you stretch up all your fence. That needs to be… The fabric going on needs
to be the last thing you do. Now, one of the other things
I can't tell right now but if you think about chain link fence it's actually three dimensional. So the way it's weaved,
because you can slide your bar down through that slot between my fingers, you always want to tie it
to the wire that is closest. There'll be a wire that's close
to your rails and your post and then there's gonna be
one that's away from it.

You don't wanna tie your wires onto the wire that is furthest away. If you think about that being
a three-dimensional product you don't want to tie your wires onto the wire that is not resting right up against your metal post or your top rail. – And that will now pull it nice and tight. I've got this little clamp tool that I can use to kind of
tighten the tension wire.

And then we use the little
hog tie clips to clip the wire to the fence mesh, you know,
every half foot or every foot. When you're stretching fence sometimes you'll see
imperfections, but usually if you just take things slow and you try to be consistent at consistent heights and you know, make consistent tension,
usually when you're done you get something that's
pretty beautiful like this. And it's just so rewarding to do a fence. It's fun. – All right, so that wasn't too bad. I think that he could have had some tools that would have made the job easier, but I think for what he had he made do with the best that he had and what he was able to find locally. I think maybe the strap would have served him a little bit better with his rake rather than using
the barbed wire stretcher. He didn't really talk
about how he stretched up his tension wire. And I would imagine that that probably proved a little bit cumbersome for him. We have a thing that's
called a T-bar stretcher and we just make 'em in our shop.

And we'll put a link to one down below. What you'll run into on chain link fences with the tension wire
and also your barbed wire is you'll end up with a
lot of really short runs. And no matter how hard you try with all the mechanical devices like the stretcher he was using, and some of the other stretchers that are available on the market is there's always gonna be that slack and you just can't ever get it tight. But you can use T-bar stretcher which is a tool you can easily
make up with a drill bit and a little bit of metal,
and it will get your tension wire and your barbed
wire tight every time.

And maybe sometime, I
guess if there's interest we'll show you how to use one. But that's the easiest way
to get all your tension wire tight on your backyard. If you really get into commercial fencing then you have seven gauge tension wire. And let me tell you that
stuff, it's a brute. That's a carpal tunnel
causer is what that is. And then we use nine gauge steel hog rings on commercial fence. But the hog rings he's probably gonna use on this are gonna be 12
and a half gauge steel. And so they're pretty easy to bend. Don't get the nine gauge if
you're just doing a backyard there's no need to just make sure you place those every two feet just like your top rail ties. Spacing needs to be every two feet so, if your posts are ten feet apart you need basically five
in between your posts.

So that's a couple of things,
I liked the way he did it I liked the way he tackled the project and well he could have done
some things a little bit easier and saved himself some time. Not a bad job for a guy that
doesn't do this for a living. So if you are interested
in doing it yourself we can sell you at SWi. We have all the tools
available at swifence.com. And if you're in the Wyoming market, we're happy to help you
with all your materials and provide you a tips and tricks that may make your project go a little bit simpler whether it's chain link,
Cedar or any type of fence. So, until next time,
you have good dang day. There you go. You know what to do? Yeah, We can't see you. See, you're not on the
monitor right there. There you go. Don't get your fingers in the way! (laughs) Come on, hurry we don't have all day! – Wait! (laughs) – It's up. Look at the lens right there! If it's not up here, then
it's not in the shot! (laughs) – Scene one, take one, action! (clapperboard claps) – Boom! Nailed it!

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