How To Build And Use A Handmade Fence Puller When Installing A Chain Link Fence

Properly installing a residential or commercial chain link fence requires the wire mesh be pulled tightly; otherwise, the fence will sag and eventually fall apart. The most common means of pulling the wire mesh is to use a come-along cable puller, a ratcheting tool designed for fence work and other applications where non-slipping force needs to be applied. However, if you are performing work on your chain link fence and don't have a come-along cable puller, then you can replicate the results with a handcrafted puller made with only a few inexpensive items. Below is what you need and how to use your homemade puller:

Tools and materials needed

  • 2x2-inch pine board

  • 5/16-inch diameter, 3-1/4-inch long eye bolts with matching nuts and washers (quantity of 4)

  • Electric drill or drill press with 5/16-inch drill bit

  • ¼-inch, 36-inch long steel rod

  • Ratcheting tie-down strap with hooks at both ends

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Tape measure

  • Medium-grit sandpaper

  • Clamping pliers

  • Pencil

  • Saw

  • Eye protection

Step-by-step procedure

1. Prepare the board - with a hand saw or power saw, cut a 2x2-inch pine board to a length of 36 inches. Sand off rough corners and edges with a sheet of medium-grit sandpaper.

Next, measure from one end of the board and make an 'X' mark in the center of one side of the board every 9 inches; this will leave the board with 3 marks evenly distributed along one side of the board. Using an electric drill or drill press with a 5/16-inch bit, drill holes through each of the marks and to the opposite side of the board. Remove splinters and shavings with the sandpaper.

2. Attach the hardware - once the board has been cut to length and drilled, insert 5/16-inch diameter, 3-¼-inch long eye bolts through the holes at each end of the board. Attach the washer and nuts, and tighten them with an adjustable wrench. When finishing installation, line up the bolt 'eyes' so they face in a vertical orientation when compared to the board.  Be careful not to apply too much force to the wrench so you don't split or otherwise damage the wood. Just be sure the eye bolts are secure and can't be moved by hand.

Flip over the board, and install the same-size eye bolt into the center hole from the opposite direction. Fasten it firmly with a nut and washer tightened to the same approximate torque as the other bolts. If assembled correctly, your board will contain two eye bolts on one side of the board at each end and a third eye bolt on the opposite side in the middle.

3. Set-up the fence puller - to use the fence puller, pull the fence mesh as far as you can easily do by hand. Straighten any kinks or other rough sections of the fence.

Next, position the fence puller near the end of the wire mesh and insert a ¼-inch steel rod through a set of vertical links on the mesh; align the two open eyes of the bolts you installed on the puller with the path of the steel rod, and slide the rod through each of the two eyes to lock the puller to the mesh. Attach a pair of clamping pliers at the top of the rod to prevent it from slipping through the eye bolts.

4. Use the fence puller - on the opposite side of the puller, attach one hook of the ratcheting tie down strap to the eye bolt and attach the other end of the tie down to the fence post where you wish to attach the wire mesh. Be sure the connection is secure and won't slip, then put on a pair of safety goggles to prevent eye injury in case a strap or piece of wood breaks under the strain. Begin operating the ratchet mechanism to pull the fence puller and its attached section of wire mesh toward the post. Keep ratcheting to get the wire mesh closer, but stop immediately if you hear cracking or otherwise detect breaking of any kind. Once the wire mesh is close enough to the post, use a pair of tie-down straps to hold the mesh in position until you attach it to the fence post. You can remove the fence puller after the mesh is secured.