• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • Mike Haasl
  • Pearl Sutton
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • r ranson
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Carla Burke
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean

Handheld portable Auger - will it get the job done with large boulders in the soil?

 
Posts: 42
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm planning for a project and need to dig some deep holes, 2 to 3 feet deep for both fence posts and for fruit trees. My neighbor rented an Auger from Home Depot and had success with it. He managed to dig 3 foot deep holes in the valley floor that's a former creek bed, full of rocks and boulders up to a foot across. He said it just pulled even the biggest rocks up right out of the soil. This is a full size Auger that's towed behind a vehicle, with the vehicle tow hitch and the trailer tires providing added stability:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/rental/Ground-Hog-Towable-Hydraulic-Auger-HD99-H/310643252

But what about a small handheld, portable Auger such as this one from Harbor Freight? I could buy it for only about $100 more than the cost of renting the heavy duty auger for a day from Home Depot. Will it pull large boulders up out of the soil? Or are handheld Augers such as this model mainly designed for farmland, hillsides, large valley flood plains, and other places where there are no large rocks in the soil? Has anyone attempted to use a small portable Auger with very large rocks (up to 1 foot in diameter), and what was your experience with this?

https://harborfreight.com/lawn-garden/outdoor-power-tools/earth-augers/gas-powered-earth-auger-56257.html
 
master gardener
Posts: 2705
1048
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Nathan! We are in the Ozarks, and one of my (getting old fast) jokes, is that our two best crops are wild blackberries and rocks. Not necessarily in that order. When we were trying to dig holes for fence posts, we bought an auger similar to the harbor freight one. I don't recall the brand name, but it was in the $150 - $200 range, from home depot. We got one hole, about 12"in diameter and almost 15" deep, before it died. We decided on cattle panels. I'm currently using vertical pallets, tied together on one side, formed into a V, with the separated sides tied to the panels. I'm working on making gabion columns, instead - rocks are my problem, so they become my solution, lol.

If you really are set on digging holes, and an overabundance of big rocks are an issue, you might want to consider renting an auger like your friend's.

 
Nathan Watson
Posts: 42
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Carla Burke wrote:Hi Nathan! We are in the Ozarks, and one of my (getting old fast) jokes, is that our two best crops are wild blackberries and rocks. Not necessarily in that order. When we were trying to dig holes for fence posts, we bought an auger similar to the harbor freight one. I don't recall the brand name, but it was in the $150 - $200 range, from home depot. We got one hole, about 12"in diameter and almost 15" deep, before it died. We decided on cattle panels. I'm currently using vertical pallets, tied together on one side, formed into a V, with the separated sides tied to the panels. I'm working on making gabion columns, instead - rocks are my problem, so they become my solution, lol.

If you really are set on digging holes, and an overabundance of big rocks are an issue, you might want to consider renting an auger like your friend's.




Thanks for your reply. How did the auger do before it died? Did you manage to pull any boulders out of the soil?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1827
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
768
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my own experience, the hand augers are brutal on the operators when you have to deal with boulders. The auger bites into the irregularities on the side of a large rock or small boulder and instantly quits “augering”. But the motor doesn’t quit. Result?———humans holding onto the auger now wildly swirl around in a circle having their shoulder muscles stressed to the max or beyond. Knees could get torn too because you really get jerked around.  Been there and done that with a two man auger. Luckily neither of us tore a rotator cuff, though we were really sore afterward. It took us 3 boulders before we wised up and returned the rented auger.

By the way, same thing happens when you run into larger tree roots.
 
pollinator
Posts: 636
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
207
3
urban books building solar rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I second the rental option. Your neighbor's anecdotal evidence suggests that it works, and it is much more machine than the Harbor freight option, which only comes with one size auger (so additional cost for other sizes?) where the rental might have choices of a few sizes included?

The main thing with tool rentals is to plan and prepare, so that you are using all your "time on the clock" using the tool, not clearing a path, or going out for gas or other supplies, or doing other parts of the job that could be done later. (Extra hands and splurging on pizza delivery can be a great help too.)
Another trick is understanding the rental times, sometimes a 1/2 day= 4 hours, and FULL day= 8 hours, but a "day" could also be 24 hours... like pick up one morning, return the next morning. Sometimes, a "Sunday" rental goes from closing on Saturday to opening on Monday (sometimes even the Tuesday following a Monday holiday)

There's all sorts of costs of ownership: storage, maintenance, parts and repair, fuel... small engines, only infrequently used can be a real hassle. Renting leaves most of these costs on the rental agent, and most of the time you are renting a "commercial" machine, which will do more and faster than a "consumer" version.
I've heard a saying that if you've borrowed or rented a thing 3 times, maybe you ought to go buy your own... I've also gotten A LOT done, faster, with a rented machine... maybe it's the focus of the tool needing to go back?
 
Carla Burke
master gardener
Posts: 2705
1048
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nathan Watson wrote:
Thanks for your reply. How did the auger do before it died? Did you manage to pull any boulders out of the soil?



It was hard on his shoulders and back, with the need for a lot of pull up, then ease bag in, but it did ok. He did say that the fuel leak was the biggest problem (which I'd forgotten). Getting that hole took about 20 minutes, because of our rocks. Ours aren't really 'boulders', but average being about fist to football-sized, with lots of small ones.
 
gardener
Posts: 3447
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
436
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I was a contractor in northern Kentucky I hired a guy with a Kubota tractor to auger post holes for me and still ended up moving where some of the holes were going to be because of rocks.
It was still better than a two man auger, plus it didn't beat us to hell.

On my own  properties I drive steel posts two feet deep and strap the wooden posts to them, but  I'm only building for utility, not looks.
 
Posts: 4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've used both - handheld and electric. ( Both rentals) I would never!! Get a handheld again! A tall, muscular guy and myself used the " 2 people handheld" and we were struggling and exhausted. We finally watered the 1 foot deep holes overnight to get any further. No rocks but clay. I think it could be really dangerous if big rocks are in the ground for 2 reasons: Machine " spits" smaller rocks out-and you never know where they land...watch out! If the rock is too big to be spit out, it would be hard to hold on to the machine...and people could spinn around - like somebody else mentioned.
 
Posts: 99
Location: Southern Utah
19
chicken building homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nathan Watson wrote:
But what about a small handheld, portable Auger such as this one from Harbor Freight? I could buy it for only about $100 more than the cost of renting the heavy duty auger for a day from Home Depot. Will it pull large boulders up out of the soil? Or are handheld Augers such as this model mainly designed for farmland, hillsides, large valley flood plains, and other places where there are no large rocks in the soil? Has anyone attempted to use a small portable Auger with very large rocks (up to 1 foot in diameter), and what was your experience with this?

https://harborfreight.com/lawn-garden/outdoor-power-tools/earth-augers/gas-powered-earth-auger-56257.html



I bought one of these hand held augers, the same in the picture.  It works good if the ground is wet.  I live in the high desert of Utah, and rocks are everywhere, but if the ground is wet it works pretty good.  Rocks the size of a grapefruit will come loose, but you will need to stop and grab them by hand to get them out of the way.  Larger rocks will require a shovel to relocate them.  There is a pointed centering pin on the bottom, the help hold it in place when starting a new hole, I don't know how soon mine broke off, but probably within 3 or 4 holes.  It still works fine without it, I never found it to even consider welding it back on, but with the abundant amount of rocks around here it didn't surprise me that it broke.  If it was used in normal dirt areas I doubt it would have broke off.

As far as reliability of the motor/machine, I filed it with the oil/gas mix and used it then left it for months at a time and when needed it would start up and run just fine.  This last time it had probably sat in the sun for about 10 months and needed a shot of starting fluid to start up, and ran lousy for a while until the gunk ran through the carb, but that was my fault for not properly storing it.  It runs good again, just needed a little use and TLC.
 
I'm tired of walking, and will rest for a minute and grow some wheels. This is the promise of this tiny ad:
Building Your Permaculture Property | Free Permaculture Summit | April 23-25
https://permies.com/t/159045/Building-Permaculture-Property-Free-Permaculture
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic