Introduction: Kinetic Fence Art / Deer Deterrent

About: I'm a writer and illustrator of books for children and Marvin is a craftsman, carpenter, and retired building contractor. We build various things for our Funny Farm and I write about them.

Just about anyone who gardens has contended with all kinds of critter invasions. Over the years we’ve dealt with rabbits, squirrels, cats (ours), and worst of all, deer and elk. We tried electric wire fencing and the deer soon learned to just jump through it, since they have to be grounded to get shocked. Finally an elk tore it all down and we had to start over.

We used 50"X16’ hog panels for the bottom and cobbled together a top system using concrete reinforcement wire we had around. After twenty years, the wood has deteriorated to the point that the top system sections are falling apart.

I noticed neighbors that hung up CDs or DVDs as deer deterrents. They spun around and apparently spooked away the garden invaders. It seemed like a great idea, but not very attractive... So I decided to use shapes, and turtles seemed like something fun. To get them to spin and not flop around, I would tie them to two wires instead of one. So, I ripped down the bad fence parts on two sides of the garden and hung two wires - one about two inches from the top of the rail and one level with where the top system used to be.

Step 1: Get Started.

You just need some metal scraps and shears to get started. I salvaged old aluminum roofing we had torn off a building and saved. The panels are rusty and ugly and perfect for this project! For cutting the metal, I noticed other metal art projects instruct people to use a grinder or band saw, but I just used metal shears. If you use thicker metal you might need a grinder.

Step 2: Design Your Shape/s.

Come up with a design or designs that you think you could manage to cut from metal. You'll need to tie the top and the bottom so it doesn't flop like crazy in the wind. Some other ideas are stars (and planets), leaves, flowers, or just various geometric shapes. Draw your pattern/s and copy it in various sizes so you have some variety. I drew my turtle by tracing a photo and just simplifying the shape so that I could cut it out fairly easily.

Step 3: Trace Your Design

Trace the pattern with pencil or chalk.

Step 4: Define the Design

After tracing, darken the lines so you can see where you are cutting.

Step 5: ​Work Carefully. Wear Gloves to Be on the Safe Side.

Work with the metal, don't fight it. The metal won't cut flat, you want to get one edge up or down as you make your cut or you can get stuck.

Step 6: Scrap Your Metal Trash

Please save your metal bits and recycle them. Who knows, you might wind up with pieces you can use for another project!

Step 7: Make a Bunch Before Going to the Next Step.

Here's a gang of turtles. You can lay them out to consider how they will be installed.

Step 8: Drill Holes Top and Bottom

Drill holes top and bottom; a ruler helps if you can't visualize perpendicular or you're pickier than I am.

Step 9: Add Rings to the Sculptures.

I bought key ring things, but a big jump ring would work, or you can make your own hanger ring. The hole needs to be positioned so the ring will move around once installed. It shouldn't be too close to the edge or the wind stress might cause the metal to fail.

Step 10: Prepare for Hanging on the Fence

I used extra-strength fishing line for hanging. The line is tied to the rings, with long enough lengths to place the sculptures wherever wanted between the two wires.

I also decided to add beads, but I doubt that the deer will be impressed. You can see that beads on the bottom need to be laced so they don't fall away from the sculpture. The top beads go on when hanging the sculpture.

*UPDATE* As it turned out, the sharp edges on the bead holes wore down the fishing line and broke it, so I removed them.

Step 11: Add the Fasteners and Secure Them to the Wire.

I cut the fishing line on-site and tied each end to a fishing swivel, adding beads to the top in the process. Then I laced wire to the holding wires around the swivels to keep them from sliding around.

Step 12: Enjoy Your Kinetic Art Deer Chasers!

Kinetic art is fun to watch, and so far Bambi and his gang haven't come near the turtle sculptures. UPDATE: I had a beautiful garden full of flowers and vegetables and the deer never came in, though I did spot them gazing hungrily at my bounty. In the photo, the garden is about three feet to the left of Bambi and mom.

Thanks for reading! This instruction guide is also on our blog,, along with lots of other DIY projects that you might find interesting. We also have a book for sale about how to build a small cable suspension bridge: How to Build a Small Cable Suspension Bridge

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