How to Tighten a Wire Fence


The effects of time will cause most wire fences to sage after a while. Posts shift, wire breaks, and livestock put pressure on wire and posts. Tuning up a fence, as tightening posts and wire is referred to, is a good practice to do on a regular basis. Tightening strands of wire, whether it is barbed or smooth wire, takes some time, but the procedure is not complicated.

Step 1

Start with the top wire. The stretcher must be anchored to a wooden support post or wooden corner brace to give it a solid purchase to tighten the wire from. Start at the beginning post of the wire that is to be tightened. Go from there, all the way to the post being used for anchoring the stretcher, and pull all the staples out of the wooden posts and remove the clips from the T posts.

Step 2

Hook the hook end of the stretcher-splicer on the post. Pull the stretcher's wire clamp to the opposite far end of the bar. Pull the wire toward you, open the clamp, lay the wire in the clamp, and close the clamp.

Step 3

Begin ratcheting the stretcher bringing the wire up and tight. Continue to ratchet the stretcher until the wire is tight and you can't get another pull on the stretcher handle. Leave the stretcher in place holding the wire.

Step 4

Go along the fence line and staple the wire strand back onto the wooden posts first. Use new staples and do not put them back into the old staple holes. Drive them into fresh spots.

Step 5

Replace all the clips on the T posts. If you removed the clips carefully they can be reused. If a clip was broken while removing it replace it with a new clip.

Step 6

Continue moving the stretcher and tightening the wire in the same manner until the corner post is reached. The wire around the corner post is tightened by untwisting the wire from the post. Lock the wire into the claw of the hammer, using the hammer's face as a pivot; push the face into the post and lever back on the hammer. Hold the wire tight and drive a staple over the wire with a second hammer. Twist the wire around the post.

Step 7

Repeat this procedure until all of the strands have been tightened.

Tips and Warnings

  • Barbed wire must be handled with leather gloves to prevent cuts. Keep your face back away from the stretcher when the wire is tight in the event the wire should snap and break.

Things You'll Need

  • Fence stretcher-splicer
  • 2 - Claw hammers
  • Fencing pliers
  • Fence staples -- 1 inch
  • T post clips
  • Leather gloves


  • University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, "Fences for the Farm, Circular 774, Feb. 2000
  • "Specifications for Structural Range Improvements." USDA -- Forest Service, Sept. 1990
Keywords: qire fence, tighten wire, stretcher-splicer

About this Author

Dave P. Fisher is an internationally published and award-winning Western author and cowboy poet. His work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "Open Range" magazine and "The Storyteller" magazine. An avid outdoorsman, he has more than 40 years' experience as a hunter, trapper, fisherman, professional fly tyer, horsepacker and guide. He's also a former working cowboy, farrier and rodeo rider.

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