A reader's Excavation Work question: post hole digger

Chin L. from Melbourne Australia. had this post hole digger question.

Hi Bill,
Can you recommend to me a post-hole digger I could consider buying for home DIY use?
I can't afford the dingo auger and they are beyond what I need. I just want to dig 600-700mm deep holes for fencing.
Is there a kind of single post-hole digger / auger petrol powered that can be handled by one person (age nearing 60 years old)you could suggest?
Your web site is incredible - the wealth of information, and its usefulness. Could not believe it when I first came across it. Keep up the great work - for as long as you can. Thanks again! Take care!

Bill's answer

Hi Chin,
Thanks for the kind words about the site, I intend to keep going as long as I can, if nothing else it keeps my mind active, ( and keeps me out of the pub :-).

  • I have never tried one of the hand held petrol driven post hole diggers. I would say try to hire one to see if it works first. This is always a good policy in cases like this, hire before you buy.
  • They have a clutch of course, so that you don't need enormous strength to hold them.
  • If the digger is wanting to grab, the clutch cuts in and saves the operator from harm.
  • It all depends on the digging. You may be lucky and your ground may be ideal for the tool.
  • I have had foundation holes that required jack hammers and others that seemed to be bottomless sand. (This is more of a worry than the rock!)
  • Tree roots are always a problem too.
  • When you get a digger, and this goes for all sorts of holes, dig a bit, pour a bucket of water into the hole, do a couple of punches with a crow bar, and move onto the next hole and do the same.
  • It softens up the soil and makes it a lot easier to shift whatever method you use for digging.

The problem with doing fence holes by hand is the fact that (apart from the hard work of course), the hole has to be fairly wide to get the depth with a shovel. Which means that you use more concrete than you need too.

I have often thought to try those hand type augers, in conjunction with the bucket of water technique.

Talking about water, no shortage of it up here at present, that's for sure!
Best of luck with it.

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