T-posts are ideal for wire fencing and can be obtained in several heights. Affordable, convenient, strong and durable, T-posts are available at any farm or ranch supply, and most home supply stores. T-post fencing is uncomplicated, requiring only simple tools and supplies.
Spacing and Purchasing
Standard T-post spacing is 8 to 12 feet for standard fencing with five or six wires. If you're building it for multiple livestock, 8-foot spacing is more secure. Lighter-duty fences with wire mesh might opt for 10- or 12-foot spacing. Expect to pay about $1.25 per post for lengths ranging from 3 to 10 feet in length The average 6-foot T-post sells for about $4, but cost can fluctuate depending on where you live. A 150-foot section of T-post fencing, with 8-foot spacing requires about 20 posts.
Standard T-post fencing typically requires 4-to-6-inch-diameter, weather-resistant wooden posts at the corners. Corner posts absorb tension when wires are stretched. Diagonal corner bracing, sometimes referred to as a floating brace, is recommended.
Heavy-duty T-post fencing includes wooden posts between every ten or twelve T-posts. If you're planning on adding more than a few unruly steers or cows, the addition of wooden posts ensures that the fence doesn't bend when livestock bunch up or push on the fence, attempting to get at the greener grass that's always on the other side.
T-posts have wire locating studs on one side. Orient them facing the side that will receive the most pressure. If you're trying to keep animals inside, place the studs on the inside. If want to keep animals out, place them on the outside. The large fin at the bottom prevents lateral flexing of the post.
In the Drivers Seat
Use a manual T-post driver to set the posts. A T-post driver is a 2 1/2-foot hollow pipe with handles and a cap at the top. Slip it over the end of the post, lift it with the handles, and slam it down. The weighted end of the T-post driver hits with enough force -- typically requiring eight or ten hits -- to drive the fin of the post to the required depth of 18 to 24 inches. Cows, horses and pigs sometimes push wire upward, lifting posts out with it. The recommended depth of 18-to-24 inches should prevent that from happening.
Build a T-Post Fence
Gather the tools and supplies to build manageable sections of T-post fencing in one afternoon.
Mark the corners of the fence. Use a post hole digger or shovel to dig a hole 1/3 as deep as the length of the post. If you plan on adding wooden posts at regular intervals along the fence line, mark and dig holes for them too.
Add six inches of gravel to the hole for a light-duty post. For a heavy-duty post, place the post in the hole on top of the gravel, and pour six inches of concrete around it. Use a level to plumb the post. Allow the concrete to dry for at least 24 hours.
Install diagonal bracing parallel with the wooden posts on each corner. Cut a 3/4-inch deep notch in the side of the post. Fit the end of another post into the notch at 30-degrees. Bury the end of the diagonal post. Toe-nail the diagonal post to the vertical post with 3-inch lag bolts.
Stretch a string or rope between the wooden corner posts. Use a tape measure to divide and mark the T-post spacing along the string. Place a T-post at each mark.
Stand the T-post up at the mark, with the studs on the inside to keep livestock in, or with the studs facing out, to keep animals out. Use the T-post driver to pound the posts to the required depth of 18 to 24 inches.
Divide the vertical length of the wooden posts by how many strands of wire you plan to install. Starting from the bottom, wrap the wooden post once with the first strand, leaving about 18-inches of slack at the end. Nail the wrapped wire in place with a hammer and wire staples. Wrap the 18-inch loose slack around the wire with pliers to form a loop.
Unroll the wire by hand to the opposite corner post, and wrap it around the post. Use a come-along to stretch the wire. Attach wire grips about 24 to 32 inches apart on the wire. Attach the come-along to the wire grips. Optionally, use only one wire grip, and attach the other end of the come-along to the post. Pump the handle to stretch the wire.
Wrap the end of the wire -- behind the come-along -- around the post. Secure it to the post with staples. Cut the wire off, leaving it about 18 inches long. Wrap the 18-inch section around the stretched wire to form a loop.
Use T-post wire clips to attach the wire to the T-post above the stud. The clip slips around the post from the opposite side. Use fencing pliers to bend the ends of the wire clip securely around the wire.
Repeat attaching the wire to each T-post in the same manner. If you installed wooden posts at intervals, attach the wire with staples. Release the tension on the come-along.
Repeat installing the next 4 to 6 wires per your design. Wrap, and staple to corner posts, stretch and fasten each each wire to T-posts with wire clips. The addition of T-post safety caps is recommended.
If you're installing an electric fence, use T-post, electric fence insulators, instead of wire clips, . Made from plastic or nylon, they do not conduct electricity between the wire and post. Simple to use, they fasten directly to the post and are removable.
The installation of wire mesh fencing instead of barbed wire is very similar, but done in a single step, instead of individual steps for individual wires. Use a come-along to stretch it tight. Use wire staples on the wooden posts, and wire clips on the T-posts.