In this blog post, we’ll explore how to use a hand auger to dig a fence post hole.
Fence posts are an essential part of any fence installation. Installing fence posts can be a challenging and labor-intensive task, especially if you’re not familiar with the tools and techniques involved.
What is a hand auger post hole digger?
A hand auger post hole digger is a tool used to dig holes in the ground for various purposes, including installing fence posts. You use manual labor to dig into the ground and remove the dirt by either twisting the auger bit or by pulling the dirt out with a clamshell type auger. They are great if you only need to dig a hole or two, and are cheaper than powered dirt augers.
You can either use a manual hand auger or a powered post hole digger to drill a fence post hole. A powered post hole auger has two long handles attached to a central shaft with sharp, rotating blades. The handles provide the necessary leverage to secure the auger while the blades rotate and dig the hole. They are perfect for fence post projects where you have a ton of holes to dig, but are more expensive and need more maintenance than a hand auger. Let’s talk about both.
Hand Auger to Dig a Fence Post Hole
There are several factors to consider when buying a hand auger to dig a fence post hole: size of the auger, getting prepared for the job, and of course the actual digging.
Preparing to Dig Fence Post Holes
Before digging a fence post hole, there are a few things you should do that apply whether you’re using a hand auger or a powered post hole auger. First, you need to mark the location where the post will be installed. You can use spray paint, flags, or stakes to mark the location.
Make sure that the area is free from any underground utilities, such as gas or water lines. Before starting the job, ensure you have all the necessary safety gear, including gloves, safety glasses, and appropriate clothing.
Size of Your Hand Auger for Digging Fence Post Holes
Hand augers come in a few different sizes. They are limited though in that you can’t change out the drill bit for a larger or smaller one like you can with powered post hole augers. So be aware when you buy your hand auger that you’re buying the right size for your fence post holes.
For hand augers used in soil, they usually refer to the “spread”. That tells you how wide your hole can be because that’s the widest the auger can dig. A 6-inch spread is suitable for a 4×4 post, while an 8-inch spread is appropriate for a 6×6 post. The 10-inch auger is used for larger fence posts or for digging in harder soil.
Most hand augers come in 6 inch spreads, so you’ll be limited to a 4×4 fence post.
How to Use a Hand Auger to Dig a Fence Post Hole
Using a hand auger to dig a fence post hole is explained for you below. The process is very similar to digging with a powered post hole auger, but you have to use elbow grease.
Step 1: Clear the area
Clear the area of any debris or obstructions. Remove any rocks or roots. This will make it easier to dig the hole.
Step 2: Place Your Auger
Position the auger on the marked location with the blades facing the ground. Keep your feet firmly planted on either side of the blades and hold the handles firmly with both hands. Make sure that your auger is 90 degrees to the ground so that your hole is straight.
Step 3: Start digging
With your feet firmly planted, start digging the hole by pressing the hand auger blades into the ground is using a clamshell digger or by twisting the auger into the ground if it has a bit/blade.
Step 4: Clear the hole of dirt
With a hand auger, you will have to take breaks to remove soil from the hole more often than when using a powered post hole digger. Having a wheelbarrow nearby is handy, to put the extra soil into.
Step 5: Repeat the process
Repeat the process for the remaining fence posts, ensuring that each hole is the same size and depth. If you have many fence posts to dig, we recommend using a powered post hole auger and following the instructions below.
Powered Post Hole Auger for Digging a Fence Post Hole
There are a few things to prepare before you start drilling your fence post holes with a powered auger.
Choosing the right Sized Powered Post Hole Digger
Before purchasing, you must consider the size of the fence post and the depth of the hole you need to dig.
Choosing the right size of powered post hole digger is essential for digging the perfect size hole for your fence post. The most common sizes of augers for fence posts are 6 inches, 8 inches, and 10 inches in diameter. A 6-inch bit is suitable for a 4×4 post, while an 8-inch bit is appropriate for a 6×6 post. A 10-inch auger bit is used for larger fence posts or for digging in harder soil.
Starting the Digging Process
Many of the steps that you do for using a hand auger are the same when you use a powered post hole digger to dig a fence post hole.
Step 1: Clear the area
Clear the area of any debris or obstructions. Remove any rocks or roots that may interfere with the auger’s rotation. This will make it easier to dig the hole.
Step 2: Position the auger
Position the auger on the marked location with the blades facing the ground. Keep your feet firmly planted on either side of the blades and hold the handles firmly with both hands. It’s essential to maintain your balance to prevent any accidents.
Step 3: Start digging
With your feet firmly planted, start rotating the auger handles in a clockwise motion, applying downward pressure. The blades will start cutting into the ground, creating a hole. Keep rotating the auger until you reach the desired depth. Be patient and take your time to avoid putting too much pressure on the auger.
Step 4: Clear the hole
Once you’ve reached the desired depth, remove the auger from the hole and clear any debris from the hole. Ensure the hole is the right size and depth for your fence post.
Step 5: Repeat the process
Repeat the process for the remaining fence posts, ensuring that each hole is the same size and depth.
Tips for using Post Hole Diggers to Dig Fence Post Holes
Using a hand auger post hole digger or a powered post hole auger can be physically demanding. Here are some tips to make the job easier:
- Use a level to ensure that the fence post is vertical.
- Use a garden hose to wet the ground before digging the hole. This will make it easier to dig the hole and reduce the amount of dust created.
- Take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
- Keep the blades sharp for maximum efficiency.
- Don’t use too much pressure on the auger to avoid damaging the blades or injuring yourself.
- Wear appropriate safety gear, including gloves and safety glasses.
- If you’re having difficulty digging the hole, try using a digging bar or a power auger instead.
Digging fence post holes can be a challenging task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done easily. Using a hand auger post hole digger is an effective and efficient way to dig fence post holes. Ensure you choose the right
If you have many holes to drill, we recommend a powered post hole auger from our detailed review post.