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If you need to dig a hole in the ground to set up a fence, plant a tree, install a pole, or any other purpose, gone is the time you had to use a shovel for the task. Getting the job done manually is not only time consuming and physically demanding. It is very hard to get all the holes with the same width and depth.
Augers (also called hole diggers) can make the job way easier, faster and deliver better and consistent results if the equipment is operated properly. Yet, there is not much information about augers out there, so we want to address a few key factors about augers and hole diggers.
The easiest way to explain what an auger is, is to compare it to a power drill. Think of an auger as a large power drill that instead of drilling through walls, has been designed to drill through the ground. Actually in the Australian market there are augers for drill, which have been designed to be used with normal battery operated drills. These augers are normally used in gardening.
For larger and deeper holes, there are serious hole diggers in the market. Normally 2 stroke petrol operated engine augers up to 100cc and 9,000RPM. These are used to install poles and fences and can dig a hole up to 3 meter deep.
Even though augers or hole diggers are straightforward equipment, they might not be easy to use, especially big ones. There are a few best practices of operation, to guarantee the job is done right the first time, and the operator is safe while using the machine.
Before starting digging, mark the exact location where the holes will be dug, clean the terrain off debris, leaves, logs and rocks, and make sure you have the correct auger and bits for the job. Check if the drill bit is in usable condition (not excessively worn), the auger battery is charged, or if using a petrol operated auger, that the engine has enough fuel and oil.
Get yourself familiar with the operation of the equipment. If using a brand-new auger, it is recommended that the instruction manual is read, even if the operator has previous experience with other augers, as operation might change depending on the brand and model of the equipment.
Start the auger, have a feel of the equipment before actually commencing digging, play with the throttle and check for signs of malfunction. The idea is to make sure you are able to finish the job before even starting it.
It is a good idea to let the engine run for a few minutes before digging, you want to make sure the motor is warm enough to perform without choking. Bear in mind the engine gets hot and you want to position yourself in a safe position, so you do not get burnt. The exhaustion muffler must be directed away from the operator's face, so he or she does not inhale the smoke that comes out of it.
The key is to operate the auger in the vertical position, the drill should make a 90 degree angle with the ground. This way the user guarantees the hole is dug properly and the operation of the machine is trouble free.
To operate the hole digger, the engine should be at full speed while the hole is being dug. This promotes the unit to engage firmly on the clutch and transmit kinetic energy to the auger making the job easier. When using the machine, the operator will feel a variation in the speed of the drill, normally the optimal speed to perform the task is easy to be identified, as it will vary depending on the condition of the ground.
Most of the ground will be unpredictable, as underneath the surface there might be rocks, logs, roots, and debris in general. If the auger hits one of these objects underground he or she will feel a kickback on the hole diggers. The faster the auger is spinning the more aggressive the kickback. The operator must be expecting a kickback when operating the machine to avoid accidents and damage the auger.
The kickback can be minimized if the operator is working in the correct body position. Mechanical leverage can be improved if the upper arms are kept close to the body. It is important to keep the body in a vertical position, legs gently bent and one foot ahead of the other to promote a more stable standing while operating the auger.
It is always recommended to wear gloves when using the auger as it will help to keep a firm and steady grip on the handles. Besides, the gloves contribute to reducing fatigue. If the operator loses the control of the hole digger, he or she should drop the machine, pushing the auger away from him/her as fast as possible.
When digging soft grounds, it is usually not necessary to push the auger down when starting to operate the digger. However, if digging hard grounds, some pressure might be needed. The operator should always try without pressure and apply force on the hole digger handles if the digging is difficult.
A common problem in hard terrains is getting the drill stuck in the ground. This generally happens if the operator drills all the way down the length of the drill. Once in the ground, it might be difficult to remove the drill. As a result, the drill may get stuck without the possibility of being removed without digging adjacent holes. A way to avoid this is to drill forwards and backwards as the hole gets deeper.
It might not be recommended to use the whole length of the drill to avoid it being stuck. There are drill extensions in the market that can make the job of drilling deep holes safer.