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How to Use a Power Auger

If you’re building a fence or deck and have a lot of holes to dig, a power auger is the way to go. Here’s how to use it.

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Auger bits are available in different sizes to match different sizes of posts. Augers are also available as one-person and two-person models. Even the one-person models might require two people.

Good to Know

Before digging, call 811 to have any underground utilities marked.

Check local codes for post hole size. Some codes might require the depth to be below the frost line to prevent heaving. The diameter for post holes is typically about three times the width of the post.

Good to Know

Mark the depth of the hole you need on the auger blade with marking paint.

Step 1

Power auger with the choke on RUN.

Make sure the auger is stable on the ground. Turn the choke to RUN.

Step 2

Power auger primer bulb.

Pump the primer bulb a few times until you see fuel in the line.

Step 3

Power auger on full choke and half choke.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions setting the choke. Typically it’s set to FULL CHOKE when the engine is cold and HALF CHOKE if the engine is warm.

Step 4

Power auger ignition switch turned on.

Turn ON the ignition switch.

Step 5

Pulling the power auger start cord.

Squeeze the throttle while pulling the start cord.


The auger bit will be engaged. Keep your feet away from the bit while starting.

Step 6

Squeezing the power auger throttle.

Squeeze the throttle just enough so the bit begins to dig into the ground. Once it gets a few inches into the ground, increase the speed to dig deeper.

Step 7

A man and woman using a power auger.

As you’re digging, let the weight of the machine do the work – don’t force the machine into the ground. It’s also helpful to stop the auger bit in the hole then pull it out to remove the dirt. If you hit a root or rock, stop the machine and remove the object by hand.

Step 8

You might have to finish removing dirt with a shovel or post hole digger.

Good to Know

Clear away the dirt you removed with a shovel and rake – letting the extra dirt sit on the lawn for a day or two will kill the grass. However, save a little bit of dirt to top off the post holes after the concrete has cured.