What are Post Hole Augers?

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  • Written By: R. Anacan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Post hole augers are tools that are used to dig holes for the installation of fence posts. An auger can significantly reduce the amount of time required to dig fence post holes and is often the preferred alternative to digging a fence post hole with a shovel or similar tool. Post hole augers can range in size from smaller hand-held and manually powered tools to large, motorized equipment that require at least two people to operate effectively.

Fences consist of two or three main components, depending on the type of fence and the material that the fence is constructed from. For example, with a traditional wood privacy fence, posts are vertically installed in the ground and provide much of the support for the completed fence. Rails are horizontally attached to the posts. The pickets of the fence are then attached to the rails.

Fence posts are often considered to be the most important element of a fence and it is critical that the posts are installed correctly and securely. It’s recommended that at least a third of the length of a fence post be set and buried into the ground. Therefore, for a post that is 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall, a hole that is approximately 2 feet (0.60 meter) deep would be recommended.


Digging a 2 foot (0.60 meter) hole with a spade or shovel can be a daunting and difficult experience, especially with hard or compacted soil. Compounding the potential difficulty of the task is the recommendation that fence posts should be installed about 6 feet (1.8 meters) to 8 feet (2.5 meters) apart. This means that a fence that measures 100 feet (30.5 meters) in length would require approximately 16 fence posts and correspondingly 16 fence post holes. Post hole augers can make the job of digging fence post holes easier and more effective.

There are two main types of manual post hole augers. The first is known as a clamshell-style and features a two blade clamshell design that allows the user to dig into the ground and remove soil. The second type of post hole digger features uses a fixed T-shaped handle design attached to a blade. The user twists the handle, which in turn twists the blade and digs into the soil.

While manual augers are typically an improvement over digging a fence post hole with a regular shovel, they still require a good amount of manual effort. Power or motorized augers perform the work much faster and with much less effort. As with manual post hole augers, there are several designs of powered augers to choose from.

Powered augers are generally fueled with gasoline or are powered by electricity. Powered augers may be operated by one or two people, depending on the size of the machine. Larger heavier-duty powered augers may also be attached to and operated from a tractor.


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