Monday, July 27, 2020

There Would Be None Left Around to See: Wriggle Fences with Kevin Andrews #MakerMonday

For #MakerMonday we'll be profiling some of the people practicing traditional skills on the Baccalieu Trail.

Kevin Andrews of New Perlican learned how to make wriggle fence by helping his uncles and grandfather make their own. Eight years ago, he and his wife Bonnie made one of their own to show their kids how it was done.

I just wanted to show the kids the type of fences that were around the community 40 and 50 years ago because there's none left here now. So I just made an 8 foot section, that's all. Just for them to have a look at it and just see the work that was involved.

He says that there is a fair bit of work involved in constructing a wriggle fence, but that it is worth it to preserve this knowledge for future generations. It is also what he calls a "long time fence." A wriggle fence will last up to 20 years.

Kevin Andrews' wriggle fence. Photo by Dale Jarvis.

Kevin likes that the wriggle fence is cost effective. The wood is harvested locally. He uses spruce or var for the wriggles and rails, but he says whatever wood bends easiest is a good choice. It also only uses four tools, so it does not require a lot of specialized equipment. He says all you need is an axe or power saw for cutting the wriggles, a hammer or wooden mallet for driving in the posts and wooden dowels used to secure the rails in place, an auger or drill for making holes in the rails for the wooden dowels, and a pocket knife for sharpening the wooden dowels so they can be used as nails.

If you're curious on the steps to making a wriggle fence yourself, listen to Kevin describe how he built his own.

We took the wriggles and we come out and you need some rails too for to weave the wriggles in around. You need one on top, one in the centre, and one on the bottom. So you take the wriggle and you bend it, and you go in through the centre one from the top and come out through the bottom one, and that applies the wriggle out facing you. Then the next one you put in, you put it in on the opposite side of the centre piece and the three rail fence, and you weave it the opposite way and put it in through the centre and come down and come out through the bottom. So, each one, every second one goes the same way. There's no nails involved because, well, years ago they had no nails, so they used to make wooden dowels and they'd nail the rails onto the fence, drive the wooden dowel in through the rail and into the stake and weave the wriggles in the way I just told you, and you end up with the wriggle fence. But now, in the beginning you got to put the stakes down in the ground first. 6 or 8 feet apart, however wide you want it. And then you start from there after you get the stakes down in the ground. You drive them down through with a wooden mallet. And then you start from there and put your rails on and then after the rails on then come with the wriggle fences which you weave in through. I done 8 feet and it took me 8 hours, so it was roughly an hour a foot for to build the fence.

Do you live on the Baccalieu Trail and practice a traditional skill or know someone who does? Fill out our survey!

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