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Updated on March 21, 2012

Besides Wood, Nails, or Screws, What Do These Pictures Have in Common?

Auger Answers

Well spring is getting mighty close, so the outdoor projects are starting to be drawn up. Honey, what are we going to put in the flower beds this year? This year darling, in the garden we are going to plant things totally different, look here at my drawing. That maple tree is so pretty, lets put an awesome flower bed around it. Honey, can we put up a nice fence to give our garden a new front look? Baby, we need to put on a new deck or add on to our existing one. You know, along that drive a spit rail fence would just set our front yard off perfectly. Honey, I want a privacy fence installed for just a little bit more privacy. Darling, if we could put up a chain link fence, we could let our dogs out the door without having to worry about them.

I think you get the point. There are many projects to do and sometimes each individual project brings along a whole unique set of circumstances, arguments, materials, and "I'm not sure what to do's." I am an equipment rental store manager and am privileged to be a lot of persons answer man. How do I do this? What will work for that? What would you suggest to get this project under way or completed? I am sure a lot of people feel I am intelligent but I do not consider myself as such. I just ask questions on how a certain rental piece works in a given situation and begin to increase my knowledge on what will work or not work.

Lately, one of the more recent consistent inquiries I have been asked has been concerning auger sizes and capabilities. No, you cannot use an earth auger to drill through concrete, and asphalt would not be recommended to drill through either. However, it is very important which size or style of auger you use for every dirt auger situation. The holes you need to dig and the dirt auger you need to use depends on the project you are doing.

A split rail fence project for instance, probably does not need an 18" hole. A post for a chain link fence probably does not need to be 8"s in diameter. A hole for a 4" x 4" deck post shouldn't be 4". A picket fence post probably shouldn't have a 10" in diameter hole. So if these diameters are not correct, then concerning augers, what is the correct choice to make?

First and most importantly, before you start to drill holes in the ground you need to have your local utility locating service double check your area. This service is normally no charge and it is a life saver literally. You would hate to start with your project being on the front cover of the local newspaper because you accidentally hit a gas, water, or electric line. It would be a lot worse if you were not able to read that article due to an avoidable unfortunate circumstance. Now that you have safety first in mind the fun can begin.

A deck is a very important addition to any house. It can bring years of fulfilling enjoyment for family and friends. When you are ready to get your frame up, a hole will need to be drilled for the posts of your deck. Posts, 4" x 4", seem to be the most commonly used posts and this hole is muy importante'. These posts will most definitely need cement around them for support and stability. If you would drill a 6" hole, it would only leave 1" on either side of the post for cement. In most cases this is not enough. I would most likely recommend an 8" hole if not larger. This would leave at least 2" on either side of the post, which is more conducive for cement and a larger hole may allow a little flexibility for squaring everything up. Some other sizes used as posts for decks are 4"x 6", 6" x 6", and 8" x 8". Whichever size post you want to use try to at least make the hole 4" larger. The depth is also important because you do not want your deck to heave if you are in a freezing capable area. The area in which I reside has a 32" frost level so any posts around this area should be deeper than 32". The gas powered tools that would be recommended for digging this size hole would be a one man auger, a two man auger, or a machine that has a flexible shaft attached to an engine on wheels. The last mentioned machine is known as a Li'l Beaver.

A split rail fence needs holes drilled for stability and these holes also should be augured below 32" in a freezable area. Most of the time, you do not need to put cement around these' so a hole close to the average diameter would be sufficient. The split rail fence seen above worked out very well with a 6" in diameter hole. The tools capable of performing this duty are a pair of clam-shell diggers, a one man auger. or a smaller Li'l Beaver.

A pretty picket fence needs posts to support it. It can be as small as 2" x 3" posts or as large as 6" x 6" post whichever you prefer. These also need to be in the ground below 32" in a frost area. These posts do not bear a heavy load so cement would not necessarily need to be used. A hole close to the same diameter should be sufficient.

A chain link fence needs holes augured to accommodate a 2" steel post. Now this hole is dependent on where you are located. If you are in a city or you live in a housing area where the homes are very close together, you may want a 4" hole augured so you can put a little cement around the post. This is usually a high traffic area and extra support is a help on keeping your fence upright. If you are in an urban area, a 3" augured hole would work wonderfully, drilled to a depth deeper than 32" in a frost area. The populated areas where a chain link fence would be constructed should be between 18" and 24" deep. The holes in this case needs to be uniform in depth and capable of retaining cement for support.

These are just a few suggestions on hole type and machine type for drilling holes into the ground. If you feel you need a 12" or more in diameter hole to accommodate your particular project, a towable auger or a Bobcat skid loader with an auger drive would be the recommended equipment to use. A gentlemen up in years a little, once rented a two man auger from me to drill a 12" hole. I tried to do the right thing and suggest a different machine but he refused. "I have done this before and the fellow who is helping me has done this before, we will be fine." With reluctance I sent it with him to do his project and waited for the outcome. When he returned, he looked completely wore out and he was a lot dirtier then when he first arrived. I asked the common question, "Did everything work out all right?" He said. " "blanketty blank blank, I hooked up the auger and him and I started to drill and the next thing we knew we were looking up at the sky. That auger twisted us around and threw our asses on the ground. What else can we use to finish up?"

Ladies and gentlemen, there are many pieces of equipment out there that can help make your job a lot easier. The local equipment rental store is usually very well capable of setting you up with the right piece of equipment to do the right job. If you have any project you have questions about feel free to give them a call. If you are in an area where a rental store is not handy you could call 1-800-948-2344. between 7:30 and 5:00 EST Monday - Friday and I will do my best to answer any questions. Please keep in mind that I am in charge of a lot of rental equipment so try to keep our conversation brief so I can accommodate my local customers who need to rent a piece of equipment to get their project completed.


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