How to Tie a Fencing Strainer Knot

This is the knot you need when you’re tying together two pieces of wire and want the knot to be really strong. Done right, this also can be tied so you don’t lose much tension in the wire. Tim Thompson shows you the step-by-step. After watching many videos on fencing knots, this is the one that gave us the know-how to get the job done right.

The Technique

  • Use your fencing strainer tool to grab both ends of the wire and pull tight. Make sure you’ve got at least a foot of overlap on each side.
  • Make a bight in the wire in one set of jaws, passing the working end behind the standing part of the wire. This loop doesn’t have to be super small or tight; it has to work around the chain strainer jaws, so just make it comfortably small.
  • Take the other piece of wire and lead it through your loop, going front to back.
  • Wind the wire up and over toward you so that it’s coming around the part of the loop made by the tail end, not the standing part.
  • Take two turns around both the tail and standing part of the left hand wire,
  • Pull the tail straight down so it’s out of the wraps
  • Take three more wraps.
  • Snap or cut the extra wire.

If you’re here for a refresher and just want to see the knot, it starts at about 3:30.

Thompson has a neat trick for snapping off the extra wire without needing to use fencing pliers (I like the Crescent pliers because of the sharp horn for removing fencing staples) or diagonal wire cutters. He demonstrates at approximately 4:30 in the video.

We’ve been using this knot successfully on double strand “slick” wire (like barbed wire but without the barbs) that we’re using to build H-braces for a deer fence. The double strand wire is stiffer and doesn’t look as pretty when we’re done, but then we’re using a piece of rebar to tighten the brace wire, and the knot appears to be holding flawlessly.

Strainer knot in double strand slick wire
Strainer knot tied in two strand slick wire
H-brace made of treated 4x4 lumber with brace wire made of double strand slick wire tied with strainer knot
H-brace made of 4×4 treated lumber with brace wire tied with strainer knot

I’ve had no luck trying to snap off the doubled wire by cranking it. Have had to resort to clipping it.

If you’re debating between a cheap fence tensioner from your local big box store (approx $40 US) and the chain style strainer Thompson is using, try to find a set of the good ones. We were in a rush on a fencing project and wasted $40 on a cheap set, a knockoff of the Goldenrod tensioner. It lasted one knot before it started slipping on the wire. We bought a Hayes H300 Chain Strainer and are really pleased with it. Not cheap, but it actually works.

Check out Tim Thompson’s full YouTube channel for more fencing and farm tips.