I believe that the description of one of the "mystery tools" in the November 2005 issue (Farm Collector, page 8) is inaccurate. The identification of Item C, which originally appeared in the October 2005 issue, is correct: It is commonly known as a finishing tool. However, the information pertaining to its manufacture and use is incorrect.
This is a modern-day tool used in all fence building applications. To use it, first you have a corner post with a brace post 3 to 8 feet from the corner-end post. If you are stretching woven wire field fencing, you use a standard fence stretcher hooked to the end-corner post with the bar clamp tightened to the wire of the fence, so that when the wire is stretched tight, the clamp will be between the two posts. Then you staple the wire to the brace post to hold the fence tight, and also fasten the fence to all line posts. After you fasten the fence to all the posts, take the bar clamp off the stretcher.
Now you still have the last bit of fence between the brace post and the corner-end post that is loose. This is where that tool comes in to use. Place the wire in the slot in the tool and place the teeth of the tool against the post, pull as tight as you can, then pull on the handle to turn the tool around the post like two teeth in a pair of gears running against each other, but those teeth on the tool will dig into the wood of the post to give it grip to pull the wire tight.
Now you can staple the loose end of the wire to the post, doing one wire at a time. Then take the remaining end of the wire and finish wrapping it around the post and twisting it back around itself to keep the wire tight. Without this step, the wire will slide in the staples, and you will have used at least two or three staples in wrapping the wire around the post and the same on the brace post. When you have finished this step, the fence will stay tight for many a year, providing you have your posts set solid in the ground.
Now to get to the inaccurate part: It is not called a star shape; those are teeth to grip the post and they have nothing to do with turning over in the hand during use. The tool can also be used to finish the fence with the barbed wire on top or a multi-strand barb or single-wire fence.
I have built a lot of fence using all of these tools and now have a collection of many different types of fence stretchers.
- Lester L. Helmlinger
10622 Ashburn Road
Wapakoneta, OH 45895-8732