John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Fence Building

Fence Building requires well braced corner posts. Remember, there may be a ton or more of tension on the corner posts. They must be installed in such a way that they will resist this constant tension. Strength is dependent on design and installation.

A wire fence will exert tremendous pressure on the corner posts. Each horizontal wire may be tensioned to several hundred pounds, and the combined pull on the corner posts is immense. Changes in temperature will cause the wire to expand and contract, placing additional stress on the corner posts. Add to this animals leaning against the wire, scratching against the wire, or even challenging the fence and you will begin to understand the importance of the corner posts in the overall durability of your fencing.

Select posts of an adequate size and material to withstand this stress, and take care to insure that the corners are well grounded and braced. Corner posts generally need to be 6-8 inches in diameter, set a minimum of three feet deep, and they need to be of a material that will resist rot or corrosion.

Corner posts need to be of a large enough diameter to resist the tension that the wire exerts, and they need to be installed in a manner that braces them against this tension. We have successfully used the technique described here in a number of soil types, including clay, sandy loam and very rocky soils. While each soil type presents it's own challenges, rocky soil is the hardest to work in, since the rocks tend to interfere with digging holes to place the fence posts in.


Fence posts should be set at least 3 feet deep. Note how the cross brace and wire are designed to transfer fence tension from the top of the post back to the base.

Corner posts need to be set a minimum of three feet deep. There will be a minimum of two posts in each direction the fence runs - the actual corner post and a brace posts. In our experience, a single brace is usually adequate, although in some circumstances double or even triple bracing will be needed.

The principle of bracing a corner post is simple. Do to leverage, the greatest tension on the post is along the horizontal wire furthest from the ground. Using a cross brace and wire we are able to transfer that tension back to the base of the post at ground level. That is what allows the post to resist the fence's tension.

The process of installing the corner posts is simple. Begin by setting the corners of the fence run you are installing.

  1. Dig one three foot deep hole at each end of the fence run
  2. Place a six to eight inch diameter post into the hole
  3. Firmly tamp the dirt back into the hole around the post. It is important that the dirt be well compacted, especially at the base of the hole. Some folks will replace the dirt with ready mix concrete, which will absorb ground moisture and set up hard.
  4. Run a line between the two corners of the fence run.
  5. Using the same technique, place a second post eight feet inside of the corner, along the line that you have run.
  6. Install a horizontal cross brace
  7. Run a diagonal wire from the base of the corner post to the top of the cross brace
  8. Tension the wire
Notching the post

Once the posts for the corner are properly set we need to notch them for the cross brace. Mark the fence posts to ensure that the brace will be level. We use a chain saw to notch the fence post, and then place the brace. (Note our most versatile tool - a buffed out teenage boy.) When the cross brace is set, drive an 10 inch spike through the post into the brace to secure it.

corner post bottom

Next we set a wire to transfer fence tension to the base of the corner post. Note the double wrap of smooth wire around the base of the corner post. Also note how the wire is secured with a staple at the top of the opposite post.

corner post top
Tensiong the brace wire crimping the brace wire

Now we tighten the smooth wire with a fence tensioner and then crimp it off with swage sleeves and a crimper.

good crimp

A good crimp on the swage sleeves will hold the smooth wire fast against great tension. Next we use a short piece of 2X4 to tighten down the wire brace. This is done by slipping it between the strands of smooth wire and twisting them to create tension. You will feel the post assembly firm up as you do this.

Tightening the wire brace
Finished corner post

The finished corner post. The fence will run off towards the left in this picture. This braced post will withstand the pressures created by a tight wire fence.


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