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Fencing Glossary

Electric fencing terms:

Ampere (A): Unit of current. Watts divided by voltage.

Circuit: A conducting path around which electrons may flow.

Current (I) It is the current and the duration and rate of its flow that causes the shock. Increasing voltage increases the current and vice versa. Current decreases as resistance increases.

  • AC current: Alternating current as from the mains supply.
  • DC current: Direct current as from a battery.
  • Capacitance: Ability to store a charge of electricity.
  • Capacitor: A device to store electrical charges and pulses of energy which builds up in the capacitor and is released by the Silicon Controlled Rectifier (SCR) switch into the fence at approximately one per second.
  • Electrolysis: Corrosion which occurs when different metals are connected in a wet environment such as with electrical connections on a fence line.
  • Energiser: The unit if the fence that generates the power for the fence. Can be run off the mains supply, batteries or solar power.
  • Impedence: Combination of resistance, inductance, frequency and capacitance (sometimes called A.C. resistance).
  • Induction: Power transfer without contact. For example, charging of a “dead’ or neutral fence wires running parallel to the live ones.
  • Insulator: A material across which an electric current will not flow.
  • Joule: Unit of energy. Watts multiplied by seconds. The measure of the “kick’ of a fence pulse.
  • Leakage: Conductance from the fence line to ground, caused by poor insulators, shorts and growth contacting the live wires.
  • Ohm: Unit of resistance. The ohm scale is a reverse one so low numbers indicate heavy loads and high numbers indicate light loads.
  • Outrigger: An electrified wire attached to a conventional fence but supported so it is held away from the fence.
  • Power consumption: Electricity consumption does not increase with leakage on the fence line, because most energizers operate on maximum all the time and the VDRs absorb the unused power.
  • Power levels: 500 ohms is the maximum a human or animal can conduct in the worst conditions such as with feet and hands in salt water.
  • Pulse: A brief electrical current or shock emitted by a fence unit or energizer. Each pulse in on for about 0.0003 seconds and are placed about one second apart.
  • S.C.R.: Silicon controlled rectifier which is a transistorized pulse switch.
  • Siemens: Units of conductance, leakage or load. It’s the reciprocal of the ohm. 1 Siemens = 1 ohm. 1 milliesiemens (mS) = 1000 ohms.
  • V.D.R.: Voltage dependent resistor. Prevents voltage of more than 5,000 volts from leaving the unit by short circuiting the excess voltage.
  • Volt: Unit of electrical pressure which causes the current to flow. Voltage = Currrent x Resistance.
  • Watt: Unit of Power, both electrical and mechanical. 746 Watts = 1 Horse Power (H.P.).

General fencing terms:

  • Augur: Tool for boring holes in timber or boring post holes in the ground. Various sizes are available, either hand turned or with a two-stroke motor.
  • Batten: Used to keep the wires on a fence equal distance apart. It also gives the fence strength. Can be made of wood, steel, wire, chains or plastic strip. Same as a dropper.
  • Breast plate: Piece of timber placed in the ground that supports the stay at a strainer, angle, or corner post. Sometimes called a “stay foot”.
  • Bridge spike: Large nail (usually galvanized) with square head and shank used to attach the bridge decking (top planks) on a bridge to the stringers (supports).
  • Cap rail: Top rail on a wooded fence or on cattle yards used for walking along.
  • Cattle stop: Device in the roadway or track made of spaced bars over a pit that stock will not cross because they can see holes below. May be called a cattle grid.
  • Chain: Old imperial measurement used in measuring a fence line. It is 22 yards (the length of a cricket pitch) or 20 metres.
  • Contract: The arrangement between parties (e.g. farmer and fencer) to define the work to be done. May be verbal on small jobs, or a detailed written contract with legal implications if the job is large.
  • Crowbar: Steel bar for making holes in the ground or moving rocks, sharpened at one end and a flat section on the other to use as a lever.
  • Dead man: A anchor to which a strainer, angle or corner post is tied back. It is burined firmly into the ground.
  • Dogs: See gudgeon.
  • Dropper: Same as batten. Term used in parts of New Zealand’s south Island and in Australia.
  • Fence laying: Delivering materials to the fence line and laying them out before the job starts.
  • Fence line: The actual position of the fence.
  • Fencing types:
  • Deer fence: Made from netting 1.8m high.
  • Panel fence: made from wooden panels or palings
  • Pig fence: usually made of wire mesh netting 1.07m high.
  • Post & rail: made from wooden posts joined by rails.
  • Wire fence: 7 wires required for a boundary fence. Other fences can have any number of wires.
  • Foot: Block of wood attached by wire to a post and buried with the post in the posthole. It stops the post being pulled up or twisted when strain is put on the wires.
  • Footing: Same as foot.
  • Fixed foot: A foot that is fixed to the post before putting it in the hole.
  • Swinging foot: Where the foot is not fixed to the post other than by the foot wire. It is rammed separately into the hole.
  • Fencing pliers: A combination hand tool that is used to cut, bend wire, and crimp fasteners to join wires.
  • Flying fox: Wire between two dead men used to carry fencing material across a gully when laying out fencing materials.
  • Gate: Structure to allow access through a fence.
  • Taranaki gate: made from fence battens pulled tight by a lever.
  • Flood gate: used to block off a creak so it rises and falls with the water level.
  • Grass fence: Fence made from two electric wires that allows the herbage to grow between them.
  • Gudgeon: Part of the gate hinge assembly that is fixed to the gate post. The hinge straps fit over the gudgeons.
  • Guide wire: Wire used to define the line of the finished fence.
  • Hinges: Metal devices used to allow the gate to swing – made up of gudgeons and hinge straps.
  • Hot fence: An electric fence or traditional fence that has been electrified.
  • Jenny: Device for unrolling rolls of wire along a fence line. May be called a spinning jenny or wire spinner.
  • Knots: Used to join wire. Main types are a number 8 and double loop.
  • Maul: Large wooden hammer for driving pointed stakes.
  • Measuring up: Calculating the length of the fence and the materials used in it.
  • Netting: Fencing wire woven into a net with varying mesh sizes.
  • Outrigger: An electric wire held away from the fence but attached to it.
  • Peg: Pointed piece of timber used to mark out a fence line.
  • Pinch bar: Same as crowbar, maybe smaller.
  • Posts: Used to support the wires on a fence. Many types:
  • Strainer posts: main support posts at ends of the fence.
  • Intermediate posts: posts placed between the strainers at specific distances - may be called line posts.
  • Angle posts: posts placed where the fence changes direction. Need extra support by stays or tie-backs.
  • Post driver: Tool or machine for ramming posts into the ground.
  • Post cap: Metal or wooden cover to protect the post from the weather.
  • Post hole borer: Machine to bore holes for the posts.
  • Ram: To consolidate the soil around the post.
  • Rammer: Tool used to ram the soil around a post.
  • Ratchet: Part of fence wire strainers used to tighten the wires.
  • Tension: The strain put on each wire in a fence.
  • Tension meter: Device used to measure the amount of strain in each wire.
  • Self-tapping bolt: Threaded bolt that makes its own thread when screwed into a post.
  • Standard: A metal post.
  • Standard lifter: A device to pull metal standards out of the ground.
  • Staples: U-shaped nails to fix wires on a post. Made of different lengths and some with barbed legs to stop them easing out of position.
  • Stays: Support for strainer or angle post.
  • Stay block: See breastplate.
  • Stock proof: A fence that will stop stock getting though or over.
  • Strain: Tension put on a wire in a fence.
  • Strainer: Tool used to tighten fence wires. Also the end post assembly.
  • Stringer: The main weight bearing truss in a bridge.
  • Tie downs: See dead man.
  • Tie wire: Wire that ties the dead man to the post.
  • Tie back: See tie wire.
  • Twister: Tool to make a twitch to tighten wire.
  • Twitch: A twisted tie wire made up of two or more strands.
  • Twitch stick” Twister made of wood or steel.
  • Wire: There are many kinds:
  • Plain wire: smooth wire.
  • High tensile wire: very strong wire, usually 12½ gauge (2.5mm)
  • Number 8 wire: smooth wire of 8 gauge (4mm). Much softer to bend than high tensile and not used for main fences.
  • Barbed wire: Two smooth wires twisted into which wire barbs are spun at intervals.

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