What is a Hole Auger?

Ken Black

A hole auger is a cylindrical device that is used to make holes in a surface, usually earth or ice. It works very much like a common handheld drill, which makes holes in wood, steel and other similar materials, but it is often much bigger. A hole auger may be powered by hand, or may be attached to an engine, often powered by gasoline. Some may be held, others may be attached to a larger machine and controlled from a centralized cockpit.

An ice fisherman can use a hole augur specifically made to cut through ice.
An ice fisherman can use a hole augur specifically made to cut through ice.

Though digging holes can often be accomplished with a shovel and manual labor, the hole auger often does the job more quickly and neatly. For example, the holes created by an auger are going to be perfectly cylindrical, vertical, and go down to the same depth, if the operator is skilled at handling the equipment. This is especially useful when putting down footings or installing posts.

One of the most common uses of an auger is to install posts, especially for fences, mailboxes, and signs. In some cases, a hole auger may also be called a fence auger, noting this common use. The two man auger is the most common type of auger used for drilling post holes. While the machine can be handled by one person, the best results are often accomplished when having a person on both sides of the machine. This helps steady the machine, and results in more vertical holes.

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While most augers operated by hand go down to a maximum depth of two feet (61 cm), some are designed to go much deeper. A hole auger attached to a larger piece of construction or farm equipment may go down 10 feet (3 meters) or more. This is especially useful for building and bridge construction, where deeper holes are needed.

Some hole augers can also be quite small, and may even be powered by a simple handheld drill. The bulb auger is a threaded auger that fits this description. This drill auger may have a longer steel shaft to make it more convenient for the user, even though the hole created is usually no deeper than six inches (15.25 cm). It is one type of hole auger commonly used around the home, especially in gardens where it can help plant seeds and bulbs.

For those who enjoy ice fishing, a hole auger specifically designed to get through ice is a required tool. Some can be cranked by hand, but others prefer an ice auger powered by an engine. The one chosen is a matter of personal choice, but those encountering thick ice, or who do a lot of fishing may opt for the powered auger.

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