Barbed wire fences typically serve as containment implements to prevent livestock from escaping. They are rarely used for residential purposes, except in the most dangerous of neighborhoods. However, due to their simple construction, they are usually inexpensive to implement and are thus well suited to agricultural uses where aesthetics are not paramount.
This type of fence takes its name from its principal component: wire manufactured with sharp barbs or points. Two varieties of barbed wire may be used, high-tension wire and soft wire, both are galvanized. High-tension wire has greater strength and is more durable and flexible, able to withstand pressure from strong animals and temperature extremes. Soft wire is easier to use, but is weaker despite its greater thickness. Because of its comparatively inferior durability, it is best suited for short-term solutions. Another type of wire related to barbed wire and used in much the same way is razor wire. This type of wire has almost completely continuous razor-sharp edges. It too, is almost never used for residential purposes.
Posts maintain tension in the wire. Corner, also known as strainer, posts hold the wires taut, while brace, or star, posts maintain the wire at a desired height off the ground. Steel posts, as more resistant to pressure may be placed with fewer intervals than wooden posts. If the terrain for the fence is flat, steel star posts may be placed at a frequency as low as fifty yards; a frequency greater than thirty yards is usually not necessary. If the posts are wooden, then a frequency of sixteen feet is typical. If the terrain is hilly, the posts should be placed much more frequently, as much as every three yards. Wooden posts are usually six to eight inches in diameter.
Braces support the corner posts and thus help them maintain tension. Typically, two brace posts are placed about eight feet from either direction from the corner post, with a horizontal brace between them. A diagonal wire connects each brace post with the corner post. The wire is wrapped around the corner post and secured with fencing staples and the wire is then strung along the rest of the fence.
The wire may be wrapped with a number of techniques including hand-knotting which involves a simple method of wrapping the wire around the post and knotting it. With a wire vise it is necessary to drill a hole into the corner post, pass the wire through the hole and anchor it to the far side. The gripple method requires wrapping the the wire around the corner post where a vise grips it and attaches it to the other wire. A wire wrap entails wrapping the wire around the corner post and onto a special helical wire and then around the other wire, holding it in place with friction. Crimp sleeves are metal sleeves that bind the wire after it is wrapped around the corner post.
Like any other type of fence, the gate is a principal requirement. Many different gates are compatible with barbed wire fences including hinged wooden gates or swinging gates more commonly associated with split-rail fences. Some people also use a gate that lowers vertically with pulling wires passed over fence posts.
Potential Legal Issues
You should be aware that barbed and razor wire cause serious injuries. Human skin and tissue are much more sensitive and prone to injury than those of many kinds of livestock. Even when showing meticulous care, someone attempting to climb through barbed or razor wire experiences at least discomfort, probably would be injured, and conceivably may die. Besides troubling one's conscience, there may be legal ramifications to such injury. You should take care that you are aware of any legal liabilities that a barbed-wire fence or razor-wire fence incurs.
In addition, you should research the zoning laws pertaining to your property, some jurisdictions may prohibit barbed-wire and razor-wire fences.