Amish Fence Puller

Installing any fence can be a lot of work. Many people avoid it, because of that. Even more, they’ll avoid putting in wire fences, whether chicken wire, livestock wire, or bar fire, as well as chain-link fences. That’s not because those wire fences are any harder to build than wood privacy fences, it’s because they don’t have a fence puller. Somehow, we’ve all gotten the idea that pulling a fence taut is difficult.

Fortunately, the Amish people don’t think that way. As a people, the Amish are interesting, because of their unique lifestyle. They’ve decided to leave many of the modern conveniences aside, opting for a simpler way of life. So in many cases they do things the old ways or just come up with their own ways of doing them. Many of those are unique, easy to work with, and just as useful for us, as they are for the Amish people who use them every day.

When you have to do things by hand all the time, it’s natural to look for the simple ways. That’s an important part of what makes the Amish ways of doing things so good. Just because their tools might not be driven by electric motors and gasoline engines, doesn’t mean they aren’t good. When all you’ve got is muscle power to get the work done, efficiency counts for a lot.

Hence the Amish fence Puller, about the simplest way there is for pulling any sort of wire fence. The same tool will work pretty much just the same, regardless of the kind of fence you are using. About the only thing that might cause a need to make a different fence puller, is if a different size fence material is being used.

Building the Amish Fence Puller

The Amish fence puller is simplicity itself. Made from two pieces of 2”x 4”, it gets the job done, with no muss, no fuss. The two pieces of 2”x 4” should be cut slightly shorter than the height of the fence material it will be used with. So if 5’ fencing is going to be installed, the 2”x 4”s should be cut to 4”- 6”. This will keep the puller from dragging on the ground and getting in the way of helping to stretch the fence.

The two pieces of 2”x 4” will need to be bolted together via a line of Carriage bolts down the center. Anything from ¼” to ½” diameter bolts can be used, but 4” long, 3/8” diameter bolts are just about perfect. Several bolts are needed, spaced about 8” apart, down the centerline, so that they can be used to clamp the 2”x 4”s around the wire fence. Drill the holes with the boards together, to ensure that the holes are aligned. Before separating the boards, make alignment marks on one side, with a permanent marker, to help prevent attempting to put the fence puller together out of alignment.

Ideally, the 2”x 4” that the head of the carriage bolts is going to be installed into needs to have a snug fit on the bolts, to keep them from falling out. So drill both boards with a drill bit to match the diameter of the bolts being used. Then take the boards apart and drill through the hole in the second board (the nut side) with a 1/16” to 1/8” larger bit, giving the bolts more clearance on that side. That will make it easier to assemble the fence puller when using it.

The final step in making the puller is to pound the carriage bolts into the first board, so that the square neck of the bolt presses into the wood around the hole, locking the carriage bolts into place.

barbed wire fence
Barbed wire fence, Bruce Guenter

Using the Amish Fence Puller

As with the construction of the Amish fence puller, the use of this ingenious tool is simplicity itself. Besides the fence puller, a come-along winch is needed, along with a two to three foot piece of chain, with a hook on it and something to be used as an anchor. This anchor can be a tree, large rock, another post in the ground or a vehicle, whatever is readily available, that the come-along can be attached to. It should be far enough from the corner post that the fence is being stretched to, so that a large portion of the cable in the come-along can be spooled out.

Start by unrolling the fence material alongside the fence posts it will be attached to. Properly done, the roll can be laid down on the ground and just unrolled. It may be necessary to weight it down on the ends to keep it from rolling back up. Then wrap one end of the fencing material around the corner post and attach it with four or five hammer-in staples.

Going to the other end, cut the fencing material off square, roughly a foot past the corner post. Fold over this end, giving a double thickness of material. Then place this over the bolts in the first piece of the fence puller, so that the bolts stick through the holes.

Place the other 2”X 4” half of the fence puller over the first, capturing the wire fence cloth between them. Then put ashs and nuts onto the bolts, tightening them down snugly, so that the fence puller has a good grip on the fence.

If the hole in the fence cloth are too large for the chain to fit through, cut the fence cloth, up close to the fence puller, on the fence side, right about in the middle. Once the fence is stretched, this part of the fence cloth will be pulled off, so there’s no reason to be concerned about making this hole. Wrap the chain twice around the fence puller, through this hole and fasten it to itself with the hook, leaving a tail sticking out for the come-along to connect to.

Attach the hook on the short side of the come-along to the chain wrapped around the fence puller and the longer side of the come-along to the anchor. Then start ratcheting the come-along to tighten up the fence.

While the fence needs to be tight, care must be taken to avoid over tightening it. Too much tension can cause the fencing cloth to deform and break, causing a severe safety hazard as the broken ends of the fence whip back from the tension. Ideal tension is about that of guitar strings.

Staple this end of the wire fence fabric to the corner post, relieve the tension on the fabric and cut off the excess material.

/* */