Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter
A motorized auger is the essential tool for putting up pickets, planting shrub hedges or drilling cores for foundations! Manual, electric or petrol, with one or two operators... Let's get stuck in!
- Bit diameter
What's an auger?
An auger is the ideal tool for digging a series of holes of identical diameter and depth.
Mainly used for planting trees and making fences consisting of a number of stakes or posts, an auger consists of a rotating helix which extracts the earth from the hole that it bores.
Augers can be manual, electric or have a fuel engine. Choice of power source should depend on how often and how intensively you plan to use it.
The boring bits are interchangeable (varying in diameter and height) to suit a range of purposes, and the machine can be operated by one or two people.
What's the right tool for the job?
Depending on the ground type, and the number and depth of holes you want to make, there are three types of augers to choose from:
A manual auger is perfect if you just have a few holes to bore and some strength in your arms. Easier to use on sandy soil.
An electric auger is the tool for the handyman or amateur gardener wanting to avoid wasting time and energy. It's great for small holes... and even some bigger ones! It is silent and maintenance-free.
A petrol auger offers the robustness and power necessary for large-scale or frequent work. It's generally intended for use by parksand construction professionals. It is noisy and requires maintenance.
What are the advantages of an electric auger?
Well, the advantages are many: no maintenance for one thing; they also come ready to use, and have sufficient power for medium-sized jobs (holes up to 200mm in diameter in relatively pliant soil). Add to this completely silent operation and very reasonable prices and you can see why an electric auger is the perfect tool for outdoor work in the grounds of your house.
In terms of power, most models are around 1200W. Electric auger models are differentiated by:
- Available bit diameters
- User comfort
- Brand - a guarantee of manufacturing quality and service life.
What are the characteristics of a petrol auger?
The petrol-powered auger is a well-established piece of technology and comes in a range of models. Power and engine type are the main differentiating factors.
Power depends on bit diameter, and is a measure of the auger's ease in boring a hole; it ranges from 3 to 4.5 HP (horse power). Remember that the more powerful an auger is, the more torque (turning force) it has.
The engine can be one of two types, 2- or 4-stroke. The 2-stroke engine works with pre-mixed fuel and air and is limited in power. The 4-stroke engine mixes fuel and air separately and offers a wider range of powers, and hence torques. The 4-stroke engine is also easier to start after a long rest period. Startup is via a ripcord.
Regular maintenance is necessary on either type of petrol engine - spark plugs, filter cleaning, winter storage etc.
Auger: one or two operators?
Essentially (as always), it's all a question of power!
Single-user models, bore diameter max 300mm, generally used for planting.
Operated by two people due to their significant power, bore diameter up to 400mm. These are more common in the field of construction (foundations, coring), and can easily weigh over 25kg.
A variant exists called a wheelbarrow auger, which as the name implies is easier to manoeuvre, allowing a user to work alone at greater power. These can be very useful, but only for certain purposes.
Tips for choosing...
When choosing any tool, you need to evaluate your needs - i.e. the nature and frequency of your work - as well as any personal requirements.
When choosing your auger, you should consider:
- The number, diameter and depth of holes you want to bore (extensions can be used to increase drilling depth);
- The type of soil you're working with.
Once these are decided, you can think about the following series of choices:
- Manual, electric or petrol;
- Power level, and one or two-user;
- Machine weight and any necessary accessories.
A few tips on using your auger
The auger can be a hazardous tool when faced with a rock or a tough root. Accidents are common, although all models are equipped with a safety system such as automatic disengagement for electric motors and an engine cutout on petrol models.
One essential piece of common sense must be adhered to: size your machine according to your physical size and strength.
Always wear hearing protectors when using a petrol auger - they really kick up a fuss!
Learn more about home renovation...
To find out more about home renovation, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:
Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 187 guides
Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!