Ice Auger Vs Earth Auger

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Ice augers and earth augers are great at doing their jobs.  But, ice auger vs earth augers are built differently and have distinct strengths and weaknesses.   

Because they are drilling holes through 2 separate surfaces you’ll find differences in how they are powered, the blades, the handles and the drive, clutch, and gearing. 

ice auger vs earth auger
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Differences between an Ice Auger and an Earth Auger

Ice Auger

Earth Auger

Higher RPMs Lower RPMs
No Clutch Clutch
Lightweight Heavier
Blades Pitched to Slice Ice Blades Pitched to Dig Into Dirt
Sharp Blades to Shave and Chip Ice Rounded Blades Break up Dirt and Rocks
Designed for Cold Weather Designed for Warmer Weather

Ice augers are built for drilling ice fishing holes.  The blades are sharpened, shaped and pitched to slice and chip through ice effectively.  They are also lighter, and easier to transport. 

What is an earth auger used for?  They are used to drill holes in the dirt for planting trees, landscaping, fence posts, and a ton of other things that need a solid foundation like your backyard deck. 

Earth augers blades and the shaft are equipped to handle compact and tough soil and absorb shocks and vibrations when they hit rocks and tree roots.  They are heavier than ice augers, enabling them to handle whatever the dirt has to throw at them. An earth auger can drill about 3 feet deep max, unless you attach an extension.  Keep this in mind when buying your post hole auger.

Even top of the line ice augers can’t handle changes in the drilling surface that you find in dirt.  

Imagine bending your ice auger blade shaft where it goes into your powerhead when you hit a small tree root or rock.  Replacing your powerhead is one expensive lesson. 

We don’t recommend using an ice auger vs a post hole digger for drilling in soil. 

Ice Auger Powerhead 

We recommend if you have some post holes to dig, and all you have is an ice auger, take a look at buying an earth auger bit for your ice auger powerhead.   

Your ice auger powerhead can pull double duty and be used for post holes.   

An earth auger bit is perfect for digging post holes and you’ll save your ice auger blades for the ice. 

This bit from Earthquake fits a ton of ice augers, just make sure to check your powerhead specs and compare them to the size of the shaft on this blade.   

ice vs earth auger

Be careful, some brands like Jiffy, the blades spin in the opposite direction.  They won’t work unless you have a Jiffy ice auger.   

Also, double check the specs on your ice auger.  You have to get the right bit for your shaft size or it won’t work. 

Manual Ice Auger for Post Holes 

Manual ice augers come with blades specially made for the ice, just like the powered versions.  The blades are sharpened and designed to cut through ice, not dirt.   

I mean, yes, it could work, but it would be super hard to crank the ice auger through anything other than sand or soft clay.   

You run the risk of totally ruining your manual ice auger, especially if you hit rocky soil or tree roots.  You’ll be looking at purchasing a whole new auger. 

If you do use your manual ice auger for post holes, and it comes out unscathed, the blades will need to be sharpened. 

Conclusion 

If you’ve got holes to dig, you might wonder the differences between using an ice auger vs an earth auger.   Now you can choose wisely for your next ice fishing and post hole projects. 

Quick FAQs

How are ice augers and earth augers different?

Because they are drilling holes through 2 separate surfaces you’ll find differences in how they are powered, the blades, the handles and the drive, clutch, and gearing.

Can an Ice Auger drill through dirt?

Ice augers are built for drilling ice fishing holes.  The blades are sharpened, shaped and pitched to slice and chip through ice (not dirt) effectively.


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