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Construction auger digging hole
Construction auger digging hole
The Auger: What It Is and How It's Used in Construction
3 Minute Read
Kevin Forestell headshot
Kevin Forestell
May 11, 2021

The Auger: What It Is and How It's Used in Construction

From drilling into everything from planks of wood to the earth, the auger is a tried-and-true machine designed specifically for drilling holes. It can be found in every size from a hand tool up to construction attachments for skid steers, backhoes and excavators. But what is an auger? And what is an auger used for in construction?

The Basics of the Auger

An auger is a rotating metal shaft or column with blades that circle the outside edge. Depending on the size of the auger and use-case of the tool, these blades can be found in different sizes or the blades could look different. Augers almost look like giant screws, except the blades are designed to clear away and pull out material instead of fastening it into the material like you would with a screw. 

The basic use of an auger is to drill a hole. The auger works by rotating into whatever material you are using it on and using the blades to cut and pull up material to clear away a hole. 

Augers can be purchased as hand tools or as drill attachments for small projects and woodwork. They are also available as equipment attachments in construction for large machines and projects.

Auger attachment of construction machine with dirt on it

The Auger in Construction

In construction, augers are used to drill holes for fence poles, telephone poles, decks, building foundations, planting trees and more. If you need a hole, then the auger is there for you. Most of the time construction augers are digging into soil, dirt or the ground. One of the challenges with smaller augers for post-hole digging is that augers aren’t able to cut through rock. 

The power in an auger doesn’t come from the blades themselves but from the torque produced by the machine. The more force the attachment has to push through the ground, the easier of a time it will have to pull soil up – leaving you a nice clean hole. Blades should be maintained and kept sharp to improve the quality of the holes and the capabilities of the auger.

6 Main Parts of an Auger

There are 6 key parts to an auger. The feed screw, cutting tip, spur, twist, shank and tang. 

The tang is at the top of the auger. It is the part that attaches to whatever machine you are using to power it. 

The shank is the part of the auger between the tang and when the blades start. 

The twist refers to the twisting series of blades that cut and pull the material up and out. When digging into the ground, for example, the loose dirt would twist up these blades to come out the top by the shank and remove it from the hole. 

The cutting tip, feed screw and spur are all located in the same area at the bottom of the auger. These parts are more prominent in smaller augers and auger attachments for hand tools and drills. They are the part of the auger that first gets attached to the material and cuts away at it. For larger machines and auger attachments in construction, the weight and pressure of the drill is so large that it is not as hard to achieve this connection. Construction augers do have a very sharp point to help penetrate and dig into the material it’s cutting into.

What Machines Can You Get An Auger Attachment For?

Auger attachments are very popular for skid steer and mini excavators in the construction industry. Although there are many types of attachments for skid steers and excavators, the auger is a powerful one perfect for specific projects. Because these machines are smaller they are able to get into backyards and small spaces for landscape projects.

skid steer with auger attachment digging hole

What is an Auger Cast Pile?

An auger cast pile is a specific type of auger drilling technique that is used to drill for large building foundations. The concept of this type of drill is to dig a giant and deep hole which is then filled in from the bottom up in one continuous concrete pour instead of installing preconstructed columns. It produces a continuous, complete foundation post that is stronger and more stable.

These augers are not attachments but separate machines created for the specific purpose of foundation building. They’re drilling monsters.

Graphic of a cast pile
Graphic of cast pile method for building foundations. Graphic borrowed from the University of Houston

Types of Projects That Could Benefit From an Auger

The types of projects that can benefit from an auger attachment for skid steers or mini excavators include many at-home landscape projects. Drilling fence pole holes, prepping for tree planting or putting in a deck foundation can all benefit from an auger. 

The Auger

An auger is a tool that has been adapted to be used for everything from a hand tool to a giant foundation-building machine. The need to dig holes and have them be clean, straight and solid. Whether you’re building a fence or planting a tree, an auger attachment for your skids steer or mini ex could be a good fit for your project. 

Contact our team to see about renting a machine with an auger attachment.

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Kevin Forestell headshot
Kevin Forestell
Kevin Forestell is CEO of DOZR and one of the co-founders. Kevin first got started as an entrepreneur when he founded Forestell Landscaping right after graduating from University. His love and passion for the industry and desire to help solve an equipment problem that contractors faced every day is what brought the founding team to start DOZR. Kevin is proud of the level of efficiency brought to the industry through DOZR and hopes that DOZR will help change the standard way equipment is rented.
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