How to Build a Chain-Link Fence

The virtues of a chain-link fence include durability and a long-life span.

Setting Fence Posts

Note the tension bar and bands on the terminal post to the right.Note the tension bar and bands on the terminal post to the right.
The chain is tough enough to offer an effective barrier to most animals and intruders, who might go over or under the fence, but not through it. Given a new coat of paint every so often, the metalwork in the fence can last for decades. The best part is that building a fence of this kind may require time and hard work, but it does not demand any special skills.

Marking out the terminal posts and gate posts with stakes. Tie lines of twine between the terminal and gate posts, to establish straight, horizontal lines. Walk along these lines with a measuring wheel to determine the distance between the terminal/gate posts.

Determine the distance between line posts. Line posts should be planted in equidistant positions, but never more than 10 feet apart. A 35-foot fence line needs a post every eight feet, nine inches, while a 40-foot line has a post every 10 feet. Walk the line with a measuring wheel and drive a stake to mark post placement accordingly.

Remove the stakes and dig post holes. Line post holes need a depth equal to 1/3 the height of the fence posts, plus five inches for a foundation. The width needs to be triple the width of the fence post at the top and quadruple the width at the base. For gate posts and terminal posts, widen the hole by an extra two or three inches.

Shovel gravel into the bottom five inches of the post hole, creating a foundation. Use this opportunity to establish uniform depth in your post hole by double checking the depth, adding or subtracting gravel to even things out as necessary.

Put a fence post into the center of a post hole, adjusting it for straightness with the help of a level, and then have a helper hold the post steady. Mix quick-setting concrete in a bucket and pour it into the hole, filling the hole up to the last few inches from the top. After 10 minutes, the concrete should be solid enough to release the post and move onto the next hole. Repeat for all fence posts.

Allow the concrete to cure for two or three days, then fill in the remainder of the post hole with dirt.

Installing the Chain-Link

Slide the tension bands down onto the terminal and gate posts. A 4-foot fence requires three bands, a 5-foot fence needs four, and a 6-foot fence demands five bands. Add the rail-brace and then top the post with a post cap, tapping it down with a rubber mallet.

Place hoop caps onto the tops of the line posts, tapping them down with a rubber mallet. Slide the fence rails through the hoops, securing them to the terminal or gate posts by threading a bolt through the rail-brace and fastening it with a nut and a wrench.

Set up the roll of chain-link mesh so that one end is positioned near a terminal or gate post, and then unroll about a foot of mesh. Run a tension bar through the chain links at that end of the mesh. Fasten the tension bar to the terminal/gate post by looping the tension bands around them, threading a bolt into the band and fastening it with a nut and a wrench.

Unroll the chain-link mesh all the way down to the opposite terminal or gate post.

Attach the fence spreader to the opposite terminal/gate post by wrapping its chain around it and hooking that chain off to itself. Insert another tension bar into the mesh about 4 or 5 feet down from that post, and hook up the fence spreader's triangle to the chain mesh.

Work the lever of the fence spreader to pull and tighten the chain-link mesh. When the links have widened by about 1/4 inch, check them by squeezing them by hand. There should be a little give in the mesh, but not much.

Fasten the mesh to the line posts and rails. Tie the mesh to the post with wire, using pliers to manipulate the wire, using as many wire ties for each post as you used tension bands for the terminal/gate posts. Tie the mesh to the rails on either side of the line posts and two or three times between the posts.

Insert another tension bar into a position near the terminal/gate post at the unsecured end of the fence. Loop and fasten the tension bands around the bar. Unlock the fence spreader to release the tension and unhook it from the fence. Cut away leftover mesh with wire cutters, and repeat Steps 3 to 8 to fasten a new section of chain-link mesh to the fence line.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring wheel
  • Stakes
  • Hammer
  • Roll of string
  • Shovel
  • Mattock
  • Post-hole digger
  • Tape measure
  • Sand or gravel
  • Quick-setting concrete
  • Bucket
  • Rubber mallet
  • Wrench
  • Fence spreader
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters

Tips

  • If you are uncertain about your property line, have it surveyed before building a fence.
  • These instructions detail how to build a chain-link fence at high-tension. To build one at low tension, do not use the fence spreader. Instead, stretch and tie down the chain-link mesh by hand, from line post to line post.

Warning

  • Wear work gloves while installing the chain-link mesh to the posts for protection from cuts.