UPDATE: This is the most popular post on this site, from a google-search point of view. Stay with it. The answer you're looking for is at the end. (I should also add, now I'm familiar with the tool, it's a fantastic piece of kit.)
In "Farm and Smallholder Fencing", Michael Roberts raves about the Gripple. His Gripple section begins: "If you have not come across this system before then you don't know what you're missing!"
I hadn't. And I didn't.
But when I went in to buy my Fencing Stuff for the Orchard/Chicken Run a few weeks ago, I insisted on buying a Gripple. The shop assistant (clearly missing something - probably the humility to say: "What the hell's that?") said I didn't need one. I confidently overruled him, despite the unexpectedly large (from memory) 85-euro price tag.
Having decided the lowest of the three (to be) tensioned wires on the orchard/chicken run fence was the least important, I grabbed my Gripple and began my mistakes there.
Immediately, I found it to be quite counter-intuitive. Not just because it looks open when it is closed...
And closed when it's open...
But the little Thingies...
Seem to work best when apparently upside-down. With the Gripple also, apparently, upside-down. Maybe I'm using it wrong, but it works for me. Now.
One thing I struggled with initially, was how to put the wire you want to tension in the cleat. I watched the DVD last night, but all it shows is a guy with forearms the size of thighs joining wire he could obviously do by hand.
I just referred to the book, looking for a phrase along the lines of: "As with all tools, there's a knack to using it" without giving the knack. (I'm sure it's in there somewhere, but clearly about another tool.)
Instead, I found the following indispensable piece of advice: "Open the tensioning tool as wide as possible and you will see that the wire gripper or cleat opens as well."