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An auger motor is a motor used to power an auger, a drill-like tool used for making holes and removing the material that filled the holes. An auger without an auger motor is called a hand auger. Hand augers tend to be more difficult to use because one must use a handle or brace to manually rotate the auger's bit. To effectively use a motorized auger, one must simply keep the auger steady and straight; the auger motor spins the bit and allows the auger to drill into a given surface with minimal effort on the part of the operator.
Augers are used for many different purposes. Grain augers are large augers used in agriculture to transport grain from one point to another; a grain auger almost always has an auger motor. Ice fishermen frequently use motorized augers or hand augers to drill holes of different sizes into the ice, which can range from a few inches to several feet thick. Small hand augers are sometimes used in woodworking to drill small holes in wood and to remove excess wood waste from holes. Larger, typically-motorized augers are used in construction to drill deep holes for foundations or to reach wells.
There are several advantages to using an auger motor instead of a hand auger. Motorized augers take much less effort to use and can drill through much thicker and harder surfaces. Ice fishermen, for example, appreciate the fact that a motorized auger can drill through several feet of ice without too much difficulty or effort. Reversing the direction of the auger's bit can generally remove a great deal of the loose material through which the auger drilled; an auger motor also makes this process much easier. Most small augers intended for personal use tend to use relatively small motors, so cost is not a tremendous issue.
The motorized tool does come with its disadvantages, too. Large motorized augers tend to cost more than hand augers; usually a motorized auger can cost two to three times as much as a hand auger. An auger motor also makes a motorized auger significantly heavier than a comparably sized hand auger. The increased weight makes it more difficult to transport; people who must carry augers over some distance without the aid of a vehicle tend to prefer hand augers. There are also maintenance issues to consider; like any motor, an auger motor takes a significant amount of maintenance, and it requires gas and oil to remain functional.
@KoiwiGal - There is an in between way! You can rent a post hole digger auger with a motor. It's much cheaper than hiring someone, and not nearly as difficult as trying to do it by hand.
The last time I used a hand auger, it was a small scientific one which was used for taking samples of the earth, and actually that was quite fun. Although still, some people in the group complained about it.
The ground wasn't even hard, which might have been a factor for you as well. You don't want to do it when the ground is completely solid, or completely waterlogged either.
If you are thinking about getting an auger in order to make fence post holes, I would suggest renting one with a motor.
My father was a great one for DIY projects and he had us out the back on our couple of paddocks, doing busy work almost every weekend. Which was all right, and we learned a lot and so forth.
But, then he decided it would be cheaper to rent a hand use auger instead of a motorized one.
It was awful. I don't think he realized how difficult it was going to be to dig out each hole. And then, of course, we had to ram the fence post in afterwards.
Needless to say, our fence was not very successful. So, in the end he hired someone to come in and put in fence posts for us and they did a much better job.
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