How to Use a One Man Auger Machine

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Digging holes in dirt is easy when you have a post hole auger machine.  But what if you’re stuck digging those post holes yourself? 

How to use a one man auger machine is simpler than you think. 

Let’s find out how you can get those post holes dug today! 

how to use a one man auger machine
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Post Hole Digger: Comparing a 1 man vs a 2 man Auger 

One man augers are designed to be used by one person.  They are built with lighter parts and typically the holes they drill may be smaller in diameter than a 2 man auger.   

A one man auger will have smaller handlebars meant to be used by 1 person and be less powerful than a 2 man auger.   

One man augers are built with a reverse function so the drill bit will reverse out of the hole, bringing out any soil with it.   

2 man augers will have two sets of handlebars: one set for each person.  They tend to be designed for more heavy duty work such as drilling through heavy solid, thick with roots and rocks.   Our top pick after testing for a 2 person or “Dually” post hole digger is the Earthquake Auger.

Some of them don’t come with a reverse function, meaning you and your work buddy will have to manually pull the auger machine from the hole you’ve just drilled in the ground.

You will also have to take out the extra soil to keep the auger from getting stuck.  

One ManTwo Man
Not as PowerfulMore Powerful
Reverse Function
Brings up extra soil
No Reverse
Manually remove extra soil
Small Diameter
Lighter Duty
Large Diameter
Heavy Duty
Smaller Handlebars2 sets of


Tools You Need to Get Those Post Holes Done 

On top of having an earth auger, you will need a few extra tools on hand to make sure the job gets done.   

You will need a shovel to start your hole, a wheelbarrow for the extra dirt, a digging bar to chop away at roots, dislodge rocks, and working at hard soil.   Some folks prefer a different kind of digging tool called a Root Slayer Shovel.

You might also need a clamshell digger to get rid of the dirt at the bottom of your hole or to dig deeper, past the limits of your auger machine.  

How to Use a 1 Man Auger Machine 

If you’re using an earth auger in basic soil, you can totally do it with a 1 man auger.  Here are the steps to get your DIY drilling done!  Check out the short handy video below to see how you use an auger.

  1. Mark off your utility lines so you know where they are 


  2. Check your auger to make sure all the parts are in good working order 


  3. Predig a small hole with a shovel in each spot where you want to drill a hole 


  4. Start your auger and place it in the center of your pre-dug starting hole 


  5. Brace your left side against the auger and hold fast against the clockwise torque 


  6. Drill down a bit at a time and reverse the auger out of the hole and remove any soil.  Too much soil in the hole and your auger might get stuck


  7. Do this a few times and your hole will be finished! 


Auger Machine: Using an Auger in Rocky Soil Alone 

Most soil will have rocks in it.  That doesn’t mean you can’t drill a hole by yourself.  It just means you will need to use some extra tools and take a bit more time than if you were using a 2 man auger. 

A digging bar is an essential tool here.  When you are drilling a hole in the ground and you get to a rocky part, you will reverse your auger out of the hole.   

Taking your hands, shovel or clamshell digger, remove the extra soil from the hole.  Take your digging bar and stab and pry at the hard ground and rocks to loosen them.  

Using either your hand or shovel/clamshell digger, remove those rocks/roots/hard soil from the hole.  You are now ready to put your auger machine back in the hole and keep drilling. 

How Deep Can Post Hole Diggers Drill Holes in the Ground? 

How deep can a one man auger dig?  While there is a bunch of post hole diggers available with different drilling depths, most augers tend to dig down to about 3 feet.   

If you need to go deeper, you can buy extensions that will get your hole to around 4-5 feet deep for a small cost.  Some post hole augers come with extensions so make sure to check that the auger you’re buying can dig as deep as you need to go.

The Best Tool for Digging Holes: Using a Gas Earth Auger Machine 

Getting through anything but the easiest soil (like sand) will require power and torque.  The best tool for penetrating through roots, rocky and hard soil is going to be a gas powered auger. 

Our favorite after testing is the Southland One Man Earth Auger. The Southland Post Hole Digger comes with large butterfly-styled handles that are 26 inches wide. This makes it ideal for one man operation. 

The auger head’s weight and the engine comes up to 22 pounds, and the eight-inch weighs roughly about 13 pounds. All this weight is fairly manageable for a single person.

That said, the six-inch auger is indeed lighter, so if the weight is an issue for you, then you can always consider using the smaller version. 

Our basic impression of the Southland Post Hole Digger is that it is a high-quality tool and is easy to use too. All of its spare parts are easily available on its website or online shipping sites.

Additionally, this post hole digger comes with an impressive two-year warranty, which gives a decent length of time to ensure that your product is defective after buying it. 

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Precautions: Call Before You Dig! 

You never know what is underneath your top soil.  You could have gas and water lines, power, just about anything.  Don’t take any risks.   

Always give yourself enough time to find out what is underneath the areas you are planning on digging and call 811 to connect with your local utilities services for full details. 

Also, a little know fact here, you will want to make sure that your tetanus shots are up to date before digging around in the dirt.  Apparently, you need them updated every 10 years. 

Storing Your Auger Machine 

Because your storing a gas powered machine, you will need to make sure that there is no chance water can get into the carb (or they get all gummed up).   

Treat it with fuel stabilizer by pouring the stabilizer into the gas and running the engine to make sure it gets all the way through the system. 

Ensure to store your auger upright and in an area that is safe from the weather and super cold temperatures. 

Always store your auger at a 90 degree angle (standing straight up) in a place where it won’t be bumped.  If you lean it up against a wall for example, you can damage the pump, engine and blade.   


How to use a 1 man auger machine is easier than most people think.  You can get your holes drilled ASAP without waiting for a buddy to help you. 

Your Auger Authority