Even today with all the technical and mechanical aids that the fencing contractor has at his disposal, getting the knots right can make all the difference on a fencing job. Although many knots used by contractors are traditional and have been practised for many years, there are also plenty of new ones which are just beginning to become more common. Simon Gibbs of Hamps Valley Boundaries in the UK guides us though the tangle of different knots that are recommended for different applications.
It is clearly important to use the right knot for the right application. Some knots will tighten themselves when under tension, while others will not lose their tension once the pulling equipment is removed.
Knots that tighten themselves are ideal for joining rolls of netting or barbed wire as they are being rolled out.
Figure of 8 Knot
The Figure of 8 Knot has a breaking strain of 1036 lbs. To tie this knot, the technique is to make a loop in the first wire, then bring the second wire through the eye of the loop, firstly under, then over, then back under the first wire, then simply pass the tail through the gap between the two eyes. When the tension is applied the tails will press against each other, then get tighter and tighter. Once the wire is pulled to the desired tension, the knot is finished by wrapping the tails off with three tight wraps, and finally snap off the surplus.
The Reef Knot has a breaking strain of 970 lbs. The easiest way to tie a Reef Knot is to make two “U’s” in each wire, with one smaller than the other. Take the small “U” and bring it through the larger one and pass the tail end around the back and return through where it came from. As with the Figure of 8, pull to the desired tension and wrap the tails to finish.
There are also special knots, which are designed for center pulls where you don’t want to lose any tension when the pulling equipment is removed. These knots are ideal for doing a gut pull with netting or tying off a brace wire on a box strainer assembly.
The Tex Brown is said to be one of the strongest knots. It is basically an extension of the Figure of 8 Knot. To tie this knot first make a loop, then bring the next piece of wire through the eye, under then over, then pull it down under the other section of wire, so it is parallel with the other tail. Next with the same wire, bend it straight back up, and with the other tail rotate it under the tail above so they are both pointing upwards. The tail that you have just rotated stays where it is, while the other tail goes behind where the knot started. The tails should now be in position ready to wrap tightly – one going one way around and one going the other.
The Speed Knot is done using the jaw of the plain wire grip. First take the wire in the jaw and bend it up 90 degrees then, with the second wire, do two tight wraps around the first wire. Next fold the 90 degree wire right back and do three tight wraps around all the wires – then with the tail sticking out, wrap that around twice to finish.
As Simon says: “There are a lot of knots used by those contractors who have been in the business for a while. But equally there are newcomers who may not be familiar with all the techniques and who will tend to stick to just a couple of knots for all purposes. Learning the correct knot for the application in question is the best way of achieving a really good fencing job, which looks the business and has the durability to last well, without losing its original tension.”