Last year, when installing my fence H-braces, I used “twitch sticks” to tighten the diagonal wire that provides tension to the brace. Upon reflecting, however, I’ve decided those aren’t the best choice for field fencing. Once the fence is up, it’s difficult to impossible to twist the stick if you want to tighten the brace again- it hits the fence. I think this would even be true for anything other than three-strand wire fencing.
So, this year, I’m popping for tensioner devices. They are more expensive, but I think they look nicer, and offer the ability to re-tension the H-brace in subsequent years if it becomes slack.
At first, I was tempted by the plastic ones. Those cost about $12 for five of them, versus over $6 per device for the metal tensioners (at my local feed store). I suspected they wouldn’t be strong enough, but I wanted to try them. My suspicion was right- not only did the little handle break (OK, I was using pliers because my fingers hurt turning it so hard) but the internal spindle also gave way- it literally pinched in two. Plus, the little teeth are just not big enough, and plastic is slippery, so they could not hold under very much tension at all.
The metal ones worked much better, and the ratchet handle that comes with them allows you to really torque it up tight. I think I’ll order the rest online, they appear to be much cheaper then my local store.