How to Tension and Tighten Your Cable Railing: A Comprehensive Guide


Proper tensioning of your cable railing is not just a matter of aesthetics, but it is also integral to its functionality and longevity. A correctly tensioned cable railing can withstand the elements, resist wear and tear, and provide reliable safety for years. It maintains the structural integrity of the railing, ensuring it stands firm against heavy winds, weight, and usage. Moreover, a well-tensioned cable railing offers a sleek, modern look that enhances the overall appeal of your space. Thus, understanding and applying the right tension to your cable railing is a crucial aspect of its installation and maintenance.

Key-Link Fencing & Railing Horizontal Cable

The "Push-Lock" Mechanism: A Unique Feature of Key-Link Horizontal Cable Rail

One of the unique features of the Key-Link Horizontal Cable Rail is its innovative 'push lock' mechanism. Functioning much like a 'finger trap', this mechanism secures the cable in place when triggered. By latching onto the cable, it ensures a tight, secure hold that effectively manages and maintains the tension of your cable railing. The brilliance of the 'push lock' mechanism lies in its simplicity and efficiency. It not only sustains the tension but also keeps the tensioning hardware neatly contained within the post.


To properly tension your cable railing, having the right set of tools is essential. Here are the necessary items you'll need:

  • Cable Gripping Pliers: These specialty pliers are designed to hold and tension the cable without causing damage or slipping. If you already have a set of 10R vise grips, grab a set of cable grip adapters.
  • Allen Wrench (3/16"): This tool is used to turn the receiver during the tensioning process.
  • Measuring Tape: It ensures accurate measurement of the cable length prior to cutting

Removing Cable Slack and Cutting the Cable

The first step in tensioning your cable railing involves getting rid of any existing slack. Begin by pulling the cable taut between the terminal posts to ensure it's as straight and tight as possible. Once the slack is eliminated, measure the cable length from the inside face of the terminal post receiver. Add an extra 1¼" to this measurement - this extra length will be crucial during the tensioning process.

Now, with the precise measurement at hand, cut the cable. Make sure to use a sharp cutting tool that won't fray or damage the cable.

Positioning the Push Lock

Before you proceed with inserting the cable into the receiver, it's crucial to ensure that the push lock is in its correct position. The push lock should be positioned at the front end of the receiver. This is an important step in the tensioning process, as it facilitates a smooth insertion of the cable and ensures a secure hold. If the push lock is not at the front, the cable may not seat properly, and will reduce the amount of tensioning available.

Postitioning push lock when tensioning cable

Inserting the Cable into the Receiver

Once the cable has been cut to the correct length, it's time to insert it into the receiver. Hold the end of the cable and gently position it into the opening of the receiver. Twist the cable in a clockwise direction as you push it in. This clockwise rotation helps prevent the cable from fraying.

Tensioning the Cable

Showing how to grasp cable and tension with allen wrench

To begin the tensioning process, grasp the cable firmly with your Cable Gripping Pliers. These versatile pliers are uniquely designed for this purpose, providing a secure grip without damaging the cable itself. Following this, take the 3/16" Allen Wrench, and use it to turn the receiver. This action will start tightening the cable by drawing the push lock back into the receiver.

Here's a tip to make the process smoother and more efficient: start by tightening every other row first. Commence at the middle of your cable railing and work your way outwards. This technique aids in evenly distributing the tension across the entire railing system, ensuring a sturdy and robust finish.


In conclusion, tensioning your cable railing may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and instructions, you can accomplish it successfully. The key to a secure and robust cable railing system is in the meticulous attention to detail and patient application of tension across all cables. Remember to start from the middle and work your way outwards for evenly distributed tension. With this guide, you're now equipped to tighten your cable railing efficiently and effectively, ensuring a sturdy and durable installation that will stand the