June 28, 2021

What Is An Auger, And What Are They Typically Used For?

Simply put, an auger is a spiral-shaped tool that is used to drill holes into the ground and other surfaces or materials.

The spiraling metal shaft with a blade at the end of the device is known as a “flighting”. The flighting rotates to scrape, cut, or siphon out drilled materials. Debris from the drilled materials (e.g., soil, ice) moves along the flighting and out of the hole during the blade’s rotation.

Like many other specialty tools, there is not just one type of auger.  Augers can be found for many different drilling purposes, with each version designed to work with specific materials, surfaces, or other requirements.

Augers can also be identified by their different names – power earth drills, grain augers, and ice augers to name a few. They can be powered by an electric motor while attached to a tractor or used manually by hand.

What Are Common Auger Sizes?

Augers can be found in just about any size you can imagine. From a modestly sized handheld unit to units that need to be towed behind a tractor.

Typically, the auger drill bit sizes are available in the following diameters:

  • 4 inches
  • 6 inches
  • 8 inches
  • 12 inches
  • 18 inches

The available depths for an auger are generally 3 and 4 feet–but there are augers that exist that allow you to drill with more width and depth.

Those wielding a one-man auger shouldn’t use it for any holes exceeding 8 inches in diameter. Whereas two-man augers get the job done for a maximum of 18 inches in diameter.

Any project that involves holes wider and deeper than those listed above will require a crane-attached or tow-behind model.

What Are Augers Most Commonly Used For?

Augers are mostly used for one thing – drilling holes. Some of the more typical industrial applications include drilling holes for solar posts, telephone poles, and deck posts to name a few.

Augers help save on time and labor, allowing for better workflow and continuity. As such, you’ll get the most value from this tool when multiple holes with the same diameter need to be dug during one project.

While these more industrial-focused uses are where augers tend to shine, they can be used in other ways, such as:

  • Drilling into wood or into trees to extract maple syrup (this would require a wood auger)
  • Small home projects like gardening (this would require a handheld auger)
  • Drilling holes through ice while ice-fishing (gas and hand-powered augers will work for this purpose)

Why Buy An Auger?

Augers are incredibly versatile and can save you hours of backbreaking labor on jobs where you would otherwise have to dig a deep hole.

In a commercial sense, augers are typically used on construction sites or industrial projects to improve efficiency. Augers can also be used in smaller personal pursuits such as building a fence, planting crops, ice fishing, or even extracting maple syrup.

tfg usa auger 2

Common Types Of Augers

Here are some of the more common augers you’ll hear about:

Ice Auger

There are a few applications for ice augers–and that’s drilling holes into ice and crushing ice. The blades in this device are designed, sharpened, and shaped for ice cutting and crushing. These are commonly used in commercial or industrial food equipment to crush ice for food and drinks. Ice augers are also used for ice fishing, however can be used any time you need to drill through a thick layer of ice.

Ice augers possess much sharper blades than the soil version of the tool. The sharper blades allow for the drill to ease the penetration of the ice without creating potentially dangerous cracks.

Earth Auger

Earth augers are used for making holes in the ground and are built with a rotating metal pipe or rod with one or more blades attached at the lower end. As suggested by the name, an earth auger is designed to cut or scrape through ground and soil. These augers are commonly used by farmers and gardeners who are planting crops.

Grain Auger

The purpose of a grain auger is to transport large amounts of grain.  A grain auger is built with a large tube containing a solid shaft with the flighting spiraling around it, counterclockwise.

From there, the grain is pulled up and pushed into the shaft, and then ejected from the other end. Typically, the grain is deposited into a bin or silo or in some cases, directly into a truck for transport.

Hand Auger

Hand augers are generally used for digging more shallow holes. They are typically used for jobs such as:

  • Gathering soil samples
  • Making post holes
  • Environmental construction
  • Mining
  • Unclogging drains
  • Finding underground materials that could stifle drilling and cause damage to powered tools
Garden Auger

Garden augers look very similar to industrial augers; however, they are usually handheld, lightweight, and are considerably more affordable. They’re used to dig fence post holes, plant bulbs/grass plugs, and other gardening/landscaping purposes.

A garden auger is much more time-efficient than a shovel and also offers plants improved soil-to-root contact.

Common Questions About Augers & Auger Bits

How Deep Can You Drill with an Auger?

An auger can drill holes as deep as 95 feet and as shallow as 3 feet. However, once the depth goes beyond 95 feet, you can add an extension rod to the auger.

What is the difference between a drill and an auger?

Compared to other drill bits, augers have an easier time drilling through whichever material they’re needed for.

Augers offer the following advantages over standard drill bits:

  • Greater drilling depth
  • Smoothness and uniformity in holes
  • Easier boring (not as much downward pressure required)
  • Prevents clogging of holes (due to a more efficient evacuation of material shavings)
Can I use an auger bit in a power drill? 

Some auger bits can be used in a power drill, but they should only be applied to specific purposes. It’s best to make sure that the drill you intend to use is capable of handling the auger and the job in question to avoid injury or damage to your tools.

Can you use an earth auger for ice?

No, you won’t be able to use an earth auger to drill through layers of ice. The blades on an ice auger are considerably sharper than that of any other auger, so if you attempted to use an earth auger to drill through ice you’d likely damage both the auger drill and the ice.

Get Custom Made Auger Drills From The Federal Group USA

If you’re looking for a metal fabrication company that can produce high-quality custom auger drills, auger studs, and other auger components, The Federal Group USA, has you covered. With more than 40 years in the metal fabrication industry, The Federal Group USA can fabricate custom auger drills for just about any industry or application.

Interested in learning more about our capabilities and services? Schedule a time to speak with one of our experienced customer success representatives today.

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