Wiring,

How to Build a Barbed Wire Fence (9 Steps)

If you need to build a barbed wire fence, this article is for you. We’ll go through all the requirements and some recommendations before explaining the procedure, where I’ll focus more on the wiring part. Safety advice is included.

When building a barbed wire fence, design and layout the type you want. Then, dig holes for the posts, secure them inside the ground, and mark points for the barbed wire strands. Be very careful when handling barbed wire and attaching it to the posts.

I’ve explained the whole procedure in detail with illustrations below.

Requirements and Recommendations

A roll of barbed wires
Galvanized barbed wire [Fence-Material.com]

You will need the following items, tools, and materials to build a barbed wire fence:

Large ItemsTools and InstrumentsMaterials
• Posts (wooden or steel)
• Lumbar (for the rails)
• Wire (barbed or welded, galvanized)
• Post hole digger
• Power drill
• Circular saw
• Tape measure
• Spirit level
• Hammer
• Optional: A wire grab device and “come along” • Crimp tool
• Screws
• Brackets (L type)
• Fence roll
• Hinges
• Gate latches
• Concrete
• Gravel
• Crimp sleeve • Corner braces • D-shaped hooks
Requirements for building a barbed wire fence

Barbed Wire Accessories

In addition to the above, you may also need barbed wire accessories depending on the length and design of your barbed wire fence.

For example, you might create a vertical fence or one with an angled top for the barbed wire portion to make it less visible. Various barbed wire accessories may be available at your local DIY store. Some are shown below. I recommend only using accessories made with galvanized steel.

A series of pictures showing different types of barbed wire fence accessories
[Fence-Material.com]

Design

I’ve included a sample if you need inspiration to design your barbed wire fence.

Sizes

The dimensions of the barbed wire fence depend on your particular needs and preferences.

But if you’re unsure or would like a general guide, apply the dimensions below for a simple vertical barbed wire fence. Note that:

  • The bottom of each post is buried about one foot underground. Depending on your fence’s height, increase it to 2’ to 3’ for a more solid footing.
  • The posts (7’ high, shown below) are about 6 to 8 feet apart. If you have long sides, you can stretch the spaces to between 12 and 18 feet with longer posts (buried deeper, too).
  • The barbed wire portion covers about 2 feet of the top part of each post, which you can extend to cover more of the lower portion as required.
  • The vertical space between each barbed wire should not exceed about 6”.
  • Optionally reinforce the bottom 4-foot portions covered with wire mesh with extra pipes placed diagonally (not shown).

Suggested dimensions for a barbed wire fence
Suggested dimensions for a barbed wire fence

More Recommendations

In addition to the above, I recommend the following:

  • Measure the entire perimeter to be covered and plan the layout first before digging.
  • Consider using steel posts over wooden ones for greater durability, and use ones at least 2” in diameter. Make it thicker if using wooden posts.
  • Place a post in each corner point and additional ones apart over distances longer than 6 to 8 feet.
  • Secure each post in a concrete block below the ground, which you should prepare after digging the post holes (not before).
  • Put some gravel at the bottom of each post hole (to prevent them from rusting).
  • Consider using lumbar for the rails, as they would be easier to work with.

Safety

Barbed wire is very sharp, so you must handle it very carefully.

You can easily injure yourself if you don’t. Other barbed wire accessories I recommend you use are safety tools specifically designed for carrying, handling, and unrolling barbed wire.

I recommend carrying a barbed wire carrier like the one below.

A barbed wire carrier
A barbed wire carrier [Agri Supply]

I recommend wearing gloves and using a pipe when unrolling it.

A woman and a man wearing gloves lifting a roll of barbed wires
Video | Red Brand

Also, use a wire grab device, called a barbed wire gripper, when pulling the barbed wire.

A person in yellow gloves uses a barbed wire gripper for additional safety
Video | Red Brand

Installing a barbed wire fence may be difficult to do on your own, so having an assistant with you is better.


Procedure for Building a Barbed Wire Fence

The general procedure for building a barbed wire fence involves doing the steps below in the order indicated.

This example uses thick wooden posts at the ends, and thinner metal posts are spaced equally apart.

Step 1: Planning

Plan the layout and determine the precise locations of each post. Have a post in each corner point or where the fence’s direction changes, and additional ones spaced a reasonable distance apart.

Step 2: Digging Holes

Dig holes for all the posts.

A person digging holes for the fence posts
Video | Farmcards

Step 3: Embed each Post

Embed each post in a block of concrete.

You will need to make one block per hole. If you don’t want concrete, use firm tamp dirt, as shown below, but embed each post deeper into the ground.

A barbed wire fence is build in the middle of a wooded area
Video | Farmcards

Optionally, use corner braces to provide extra support to hold up the posts, as shown below.

A piece of metal barbed wire fence is attached to a pole near a body of water
Video | Farmcards

Step 4: Mark Points

Mark points on each post for the barbed wires.

Two people mark points on each post for the barbed wires
Video | Red Brand

Step 5: Tie the Barbed Wire

Tie the barbed wire around each post.

Optionally, you can embed D-shaped hooks into each post using a hammer. You will use less barbed wire this way.

A man embed hooks into the fence post
Video | Farmcards

Step 6: Fasten the Barbed Wire

As shown below, fasten the barbed wire around each post by tying it to itself.

A man in yellow gloves installing a barbed wire fence
Video | Red Brand

Step 7: Remove Slack

Remove any slack from the unrolled barbed wire. Use a tool such as a hammer to help you do this.

A man in yellow gloves using a hammer to remove slack from the unrolled barbed wire
Video | Red Brand

Step 8: Tighten the Barbed Wire

Tighten the barbed wire using a ‘come along’ device, as shown below. Make it taut without over-stretching it.

A man is holding a wire in his hands preparing to install barbed wire fence
Video | Red Brand

You should have enough wire remaining to wrap it around the final post. I suggest wrapping it around 4 to 5 times to make it secure. Repeat up to the next main post.

A man is installing a barbed wire fence using a tool
Video | Red Brand

Step 9: Attach to Intermediate Posts

Secure the barbed wire to the intermediate posts.

A man in yellow gloves attach the barbed wire to the intermediate posts
Video | Red Brand

Step 10: Install Fence Rods (Optional)

Optionally, install fence rods vertically between each pair of posts, as shown below. They will make the barbed wires more resistant to being pulled apart.

A man is attaching vertical fence rods
Video | Red Brand


Joining Two Barbed Wires

If you need to join two barbed wires, use crimp sleeves or do it manually.

Using Crimp Sleeves

If you need to join two barbed wire ends, use two or three crimp sleeves and a crimp tool. Place them joined together as shown below before pressing with the crimp tool.

A collage of using a crimp sleeves to join barbed wire ends
Video | Red Brand

Manually Joining Barbed Wire

The manual method of joining barbed wire will require extra care.

Wrap the wires around each other carefully on both ends until they don’t stick out. The overlap on each end should be at least one foot.

A man in yellow gloves carefully building a barbed wire fence in the grass
Video | Red Brand


More About Barbed Wire Fences

Why Build Barbed Wire Fences?

Barbed wire fences are less expensive than woven wire and wooden fences.

The cost could make a big difference if, for example, you have a large field or farm to build a fence around. They are ideal for keeping your livestock inside and intruders out.

Uses of Barbed Wire Fences

Common uses of barbed wire fences include:

  • Marking property lines
  • Securing property from trespassers, intruders, and pests
  • Protecting livestock from leaving the area

Using Barbed Wire for Animals

Barbed wire can be either non-electrified or electrified to keep animals inside.

If electrifying them for animals, it may be enough to only electrify the one at their eye level or roughly two-thirds of their height. [Hasheider, 2014]

Bear in mind that many animals get caught on and killed by barbed wire fences. As shown below, you can limit this by covering the top strand with poly pipe pieces.

A picture of a barbed wire fence and a picture of a wire fence
Lindenmayer et al., 2022

Safety when Handling Barbed Wire for Fencing

You must be very careful when handling and installing barbed wire because they can do the same damage to you as they can to the animals to keep them inside.

Read the safety section above before building a barbed wire fence.


Barbed Wire Fence Designs

You have a few different design options for building your own barbed wire fence. A few suggestions to inspire you are given below.

A barbed wire fence built in a field with mountains in the background.

This is a simple barbed wire fence commonly seen on ranches and farms. It combines horizontal and diagonal stretches.
[Pinterest]

A barbed wire fence built in the middle of a field

This vertical barbed wire fence combines a meshed wire in the bottom portion with a few strands of barbed wire at the top. It is typically used for farm fencing.
[Lynx Brand]

A chain link fence with a grassy field in the background

This is similar to the above, except that the barbed wire portion is angled inwards to make it less visible (and ugly) on the outside. You will need to attach barbed wire arms on each post.
[Duraguard Fence Ltd]

A barbed wire fence in a desert

This is a variant of the above in which v-shaped arms have been used. You will need to attach v-shaped barbed wire arms. It is suitable for covering more areas with barbed wire for added security without vertically extending the section.
[India Mart]

A fence built with barbed wire alongside road

A coiled barbed wire fence will make it even more prohibitive for anyone considering climbing over. It is suitable where security is the key concern.
[Yujun]

Barbed wire on top of the wall

This concertina barbed wire fencing type is more commonly used in highly restricted areas where security is the prime concern. They are considered ugly but can inflict serious injuries, so they do what they are designed for.
[PABMS]


FAQ Section

How Far Apart Should Barbed Wire Fence Posts Be Placed?

Space your fence posts 6 to 8 feet apart for optimal stability and strength. If you’re working with longer sides on your property, you can extend this distance up to 12 to 18 feet, but ensure the posts are buried deeper to accommodate the extra tension.

What Is The Best Type Of Post For A Barbed Wire Fence?

Steel posts offer greater durability and longevity. Choose steel posts with at least a 2-inch diameter for a robust fence. If you prefer wooden posts, select a thicker option to ensure stability and sturdiness.

How Deep Should Fence Posts Be Buried?

For a solid fence, bury the bottom of each post about one foot underground. If you need a more solid footing, especially for taller fences, increase the depth to 2 to 3 feet.

Can Barbed Wire Fences Be Electrified?

Yes, barbed wire fences can be electrified. It’s often enough to electrify just the strand at the animal’s eye level or approximately two-thirds of their height to contain them effectively.

What Safety Equipment Is Recommended When Installing Barbed Wire Fencing?

Always wear thick gloves and use a pipe or a specially designed-carrier to unroll the wire. A wire grab device, such as a barbed wire gripper, is also recommended to safely handle and stretch the barbed wire.

How Do You Join Two Ends Of Barbed Wire Together?

You can use crimp sleeves with a crimp tool to join two barbed wire ends. Alternatively, for a manual join, carefully wrap the ends around each other, ensuring at least one-foot overlap on each end.

What Are The Main Uses Of Barbed Wire Fences?

Barbed wire fences are commonly used to mark property boundaries, protect livestock, secure property against intruders and pests, and generally delineate areas on a farm or ranch.

Is It Possible To Build A Barbed Wire Fence By Myself?

While it is possible to install a barbed wire fence on your own, it’s recommended to have at least one assistant for safety and efficiency.

How Does Barbed Wire Fence Impact Wildlife?

Barbed wire can pose a risk to wildlife, leading to injury or death. To mitigate this, consider covering the top strand with poly pipe pieces to make it more visible to animals.

What Is The Historical Significance Of Barbed Wire Fences?

Barbed wire fences have been crucial in developing agricultural practices in the United States, especially after the Homestead Act of 1862. They allowed for effective and economical fencing of large areas of farmland.


References

Books:

Website Resources:

Video References:

Farmcards

Red Brand

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About Robert Gibson

Robert GibsonRobert Gibson is a skilled handyman and a trusted consultant in the home improvement realm, currently spearheading content creation for ToolsWeek. With a rich background in practical hands-on projects, spanning over two decades, Robert has mastered the art of troubleshooting and solving household challenges.

Known for his knack for breaking down intricate home improvement tasks into easy-to-follow steps, Robert is a vital asset to the ToolsWeek community. His well-researched guides and insightful articles have become a go-to resource for both seasoned professionals and eager DIYers looking to enhance their skills and tackle their projects with confidence.

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