How To Remove Fence Posts With A Car Jack

Summertime in my youth was full of taking old fence posts out of the ground and putting new ones in. My Grandfather and dad were both farmers, and we were constantly fixing fences.

One hot, summer day in August, we were fighting with a fence post. The soil was exceptionally rocky, and no matter how much my brother and I rocked the fence post back and forth, we couldn’t get it out of the soil.

The ground was baked solid like concrete.

Pretty soon, our grandfather comes along with a hi-lift jack and a chain. At first, we were wondering what he was up to, but pretty soon we caught on. He wrapped the chain around the fence post and the jack and then proceeded to easily lift the fence post straight out of the soil.

The rest of the day was much easier as we worked our way along the fence row, pulling each post.

Metal T-posts are probably a little easier to pull out than wooden fence posts. Often wood posts have rotted and don’t survive the removal process. We’ve often just cut the wood ones flush with the ground after the fence has been removed.

Whether metal or wood, here is how we get the job done with ease.

These methods are not OSHA-approved, and may not be safe. They sure make for a good read, though!

In the comments, please share your own fence post removal stories. You probably have some tips I haven’t tried.

See Related: The #1 Tool That Reduces Back Strain and Improves Shop Efficiency

Remove Wooden Fence Post With Jack

Sure, you could dig it out, but digging a hole takes a lot of time.

Most wood posts are secured into the ground with a concrete base, making them even more challenging to remove. We want a method that will let you easily remove an entire row of posts in a few hours.

A secure post may need 2,000 to 4,000 foot-pounds to remove a post. this is a lot of force. A car jack is perfect for this.

Digging

If you need to dig a post out, my tip is to not dig around the entire thing. Instead, only dig away a hole at one side. Once you get two feet or so down, you can push on the post from the opposite direction. The post acts as a lever to push the concrete out, and it will come free with a bit of back-and-forth motion.

Dig on one side and then apply pressure from the opposite side

The Old Wheel Method

As the above video demonstrates, this is one of the most common methods for getting the job done. It makes excellent use of physics and old car parts to remove a fence post. It might also be one of the more dangerous options.

  1. Attach a chain to the bottom of the post.
  2. Set an old wheel with a tire next to the post.
  3. Loop that chain over the tire.
  4. Connect the other end to the back of your vehicle.
  5. Driving forward creates an upward force on the post.

This method is always a little risky as you are dealing with heavy machinery and chains that can snap. The old wheel being used as leverage often pop free and go flying. You also can’t always get a vehicle into small neighbourhood backyards.

Removal With A Car Jack

So, if you haven’t guessed by now, I am a fan of using a car jack to remove a fence post. It provides tremendous upwards force, is comparatively safer to use, and works in tiny areas.

Be sure to wear heavy leather gloves and eye protection.

Here are the steps:

  1. Expose the concrete base with a shallow hole with a pry bar or spud bar
  2. Wrap a chain around the concrete base
  3. Attach the chain to the jack
  4. Apply pressure and remove a fence post
image of hi lift jack and fence post

Tools You Need

You’ll need a Hi-Lift style jack, a chain that is 3 to 6 feet long and a pry bar (rock bar) for digging a slight hole. Ideally, this chain will have a slip hook and a grab hook, but I’ve also done it with grab hooks on the chain, so don’t overthink it.

You can use a hydraulic jack, but they don’t generally have enough “throw” on them, so you have to stack the jack on a successively taller stack of cinder blocks as you move the post out of the ground. Each additional cinder block adds a level of safety concern, so we’re going to stick with the highly affordable hi-lift jack.

Expose the Concrete

The first step you will want to do is dig out a slight hole around the base of the fence post. We need to expose about 3 inches of concrete to wrap the chain around.

If you attach directly to the fence post, you will likely leave the base behind. Many methods suggest attaching a bracket to the fence post and then using the jack to remove it (or drilling a hole through the post and installing a long bolt that a chain can then attach to). In almost every case, you will slide the post out of the concrete by focusing on the post.

Once you’ve done some light digging and exposed the concrete, you can get the chain around it.

Wrap the Chain

Thankfully, nearly every post hole is dug so that it is wider at the top with the pry bar. So once you get just a little way down, you can get that chain around it.

Attach the chain so that the slip hook is on the chain loop that goes around the post. Pull it as tight as you can. It will get tighter as the jack applies pressure.

Attach and Pull The Post

Set the jack as close to the post as you can. Face the jack towards the post, loop the chain over it, and tightly attach it.

Now, apply pressure to the jack. It is probably going to lean towards the post as you jack. Just keep going. If it leans too far forward and you lose leverage, just reset the jack from the other side and go again.

YouTube video

Metal T-Post Removal

A metal T fence post is much easier to remove. In soft soil, you can wiggle them back and forth until they cut loose.

But in dried clay ground, you will need a jack.

The nice thing about these metal posts is that just about any hydraulic or scissor jack will work.

The methodology is the same. Spin a chain around it and lift. Don’t overthink these posts; they pull right out.

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