Tools For Fence Building

tools for fence building

All kinds of crazy things can happen when you’re hiring fencing contractors. 

Maybe you were approached by a very nice man claiming to be a contractor, who happened to see your fence down after a storm. He probably gave you his business card and a cheaper estimate than any other fencing company you spoke to about fixing the darn thing. He might’ve asked for half of the payment upfront, which seemed reasonable, and then…he didn’t even show up to work on the fence when he said he would. The telephone number on his business card suddenly led to a dead line, and you were out $1,000 with a fence still down in your backyard. 

Maybe it was something far less dramatic, but still upsetting, like a fencing contractor trampling the flowers in your garden while measuring for your new fence. Maybe someone just did a bad job installing your last fence, and you’ve had countless repairs on it since.

If any of these things happened to you or someone you know, you would understandably be wary of fencing companies. There were about 27,000 fence erectors in the United States in 2022, and there’s just no way all of them are trustworthy. But how can you tell? How can you weed out the bad fence contractors from the good ones?

Northland Fence is the highest-rated fencing company in Minneapolis, so we have countless customers who could tell you about their pleasant experiences with us. We get it, though. Sometimes you just want to build and install a fence yourself, whether the motivation comes from a lack of trust in fencing companies, wanting to cut some costs on fencing installation, or a desire for a meaningful DIY project. If you’re determined to tackle your fencing by yourself, here are all the tools for fence building you’ll need.

Before You Get Building: Tools for Fence Planning

Before you get too far into planning and building your fence, make sure you know your city’s codes and regulations for fencing. Minnesota has some state codes that apply to every city, but each city also has unique regulations. Northland Fence is very familiar with Minnesota’s fencing regulations, and we know they can be complicated and confusing to deal with. If you’re second-guessing putting up your fence by yourself, feel free to give us a call and we’ll handle everything.

If you’ve familiarized yourself with your city’s regulations and are still ready to go, your next step will be getting a vision of exactly what you want. Where do you want to build your fence? What kind of material and color should it be? We offer a free online fence builder that can help you get an idea of what you want.

After you have a vision, you still have to get out there and do some measuring before you purchase any materials and start the building process.

Spirit Level and Measuring Equipment

You have some options when it comes to measuring out where you want your fence and its posts to go. You can never go wrong with the practicality of a tape measure, and it’ll work just fine for installing your fence. You can also go with a measuring wheel, which will give you a more accurate result and might require less fussing around than a tape measure, but they’re generally more expensive.

You’ll also want a spirit level, so you can make sure your fence is even. It’ll be a good idea to grab some orange spray paint or some garden stakes to mark where you want each fence post to be, too.

The last thing that will help you out is a string line. You’ll attach this to the garden stakes you put in the ground to make sure your fencing runs straight, and that your posts line up.

essential tools for dyi fence construction

Tools You Need for Building Most Fence Types

Some fence types might require specific tools that others don’t, but there are some you should have on hand no matter what fencing project you’re taking on.

Work Gloves

Working on fencing using some of this equipment can wear heavily on your hands. Gloves will also protect you from any splinters and cuts, depending on the kind of fencing material you’re working with. Leather work gloves are a good choice, because they’re durable and comfortable. 


This may seem like a given, but it’s a necessity on a list of tools for fence building regardless. You’ll want a wheelbarrow to transport large quantities of dirt, rubble, and any large supplies you’ll need throughout the project.

Digging Bar

A digging bar is a long metal bar, somewhat resembling a crowbar without a bent end. The main purpose of a digging bar is, unsurprisingly, to dig, especially in rough or rocky terrain. It’s good at breaking up rock, soil, ice, and concrete that gets in the way of your ideal fence, and can also be used as a lever to move any sort of debris.

Digging bars usually have a pointy, blunt, wedge, or chisel for an end, and there will be one on each end. You'll want a blunt end if you’re looking to pack holes with your digging bar. Pointy ends are good for prying and breaking things, and wedge ends can do that and dig, too. A chisel is good for cutting roots, prying, and digging. Make sure to assess the area you’ll be installing your fence and choose the type of digging bar that will work best for you.

Post Diggers

You have a few options when it comes to post diggers. You can use a traditional post hole digger, which is like the shovel equivalent of tongs. To dig, you stick the post digger in the ground in the open position, then close it to pick up the soil. The benefit of a traditional post hole digger is that you can dig different-sized holes, but that can also come as a problem: your holes for your fence posts can be inconsistent.

There are also post hole diggers that are like drills, with a rotating blade that digs into the ground and creates uniform holes. These are also called post hole augers, and come in convenient handheld versions. This is probably the ideal option, both for its consistency and because using it is faster than digging holes manually. The downside is that they can be expensive, but renting is also an option that may be more affordable.

Having a traditional shovel on hand is a good idea, too, but we don’t recommend using one to dig the holes for your posts unless you absolutely have to. A shovel can help you transport any dirt and rubble you dig up with the post digger, and also help level out the ground for your fence posts. Investing in a high-quality steel shovel is worth it if you haven’t done it already, especially if you plan for more DIY projects.

Some Kind of Saw

Your options among saws are numerous, but you’ll probably want an electric one. Hacksaws are good to have on hand, but a band saw, circular saw, or chainsaw will probably serve you better. Just make sure you invest in a cordless one so you don’t have to mess with any annoying cords while you work on your fence.

Fence Pliers

Fence pliers are like regular pliers, just upgraded. They can cut wire, work as a hammer, and grip onto things, so they’re a great tool to have on hand. They’re especially helpful if you’re working on a wood or metal fence. 

Electric Screwdriver

You can use a classic tiny screwdriver if you want, but an electric one will significantly speed up the process for you. One of these will be extra useful if you’re, once again, working on a wood or metal fence. 

Claw Hammer

This is a must-have tool for wooden fences, but we recommend having one on hand no matter your fencing project, just in case. Chances are, if you’re a DIYer, you won’t even have to go out and buy one of these. You’ll probably need to pound some nails in and take some out with the other end throughout your wooden fencing project, and potentially with other materials, too.

must have tools for effective fence installation

Tools You Need for Wire Fences

Wire fences require a little extra attention, and tools tailored just to them. Consider picking up the following if you’ll be building a wire fence:

Crimping Tool

Crimping tools crimp two wires to join them together. This is incredibly valuable for repairing wire fences, and you can sometimes find a crimping tool built into wire cutters if you want a multi-purpose tool. Regardless, make sure the handles of the tool are comfortable, because it’ll take some physical force to do the job.

Fence Tensioner

Fence tensioners will help tighten your fence and keep it strong. You have lots of options in this area, but we recommend a fence tensioner with a practical handle and a gearing system built in.


A come-along is a handheld device that will also help tighten your wire fence so it stays secure and doesn’t sag. They work especially well if you’re working with a big fence, but they can be useful no matter the size of the project. A one-ton come-along should work fine.

Consider Fence Installation with Northland Fence if the Project Gets Overwhelming

There you have it! Once you collect the necessary tools on this list, you’ll be all set to start building your DIY fence. Maybe you’re looking at all of this and thinking, “That’s a lot. How expensive are all those tools going to be?” 

For as much as we support you taking on the project of building your fence by yourself, it’s a massive undertaking. Choosing a fencing company you can trust may be a better option for some. If you decide you’d rather have experts install the fence for you, Northland Fence in Ramsey is here for you.

Northland Fence has been family-owned and family-focused since 2004. With an abundance of experience and in-house, full-time employees, we’re dedicated to bringing quality fencing to the Minneapolis area. If you’re looking to install a new fence, give us a call at (763) 316-4881, and we’ll be happy to help.


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Whether you’re looking for a beautiful, maintenance-free vinyl privacy fence, a sturdy chain link fence, or a ornamental fence, we’re ready to show you why we’re Minnesota’s highest and best rated fence company.

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