Post Hole Digger Vs. Auger: What’s The Difference?

Post hole diggers and augers are the usual tools you can choose from when it comes to digging. Though they can both create a hole, it is evident that they are different. One has a spiral blade around a shaft, while the other has two hollow cylinders that you can close or open. We have researched their differences in detail, and here is what we found out.

There are three categories regarding the differences between a post hole digger and an auger: the number of tasks they can perform, the types of surfaces they can penetrate, and their performance. 

What exactly lies under those categories? That is what we will find out in the next section. By the end of this article, you will know which tool will work best for the task that you are going to do. Read on if you are interested in learning more. 

collab photo of a post hole digger and auger differences, Post Hole Digger Vs Auger: What's The Difference?

Differences Between Post Hole Digger And Auger

We will discuss each category thoroughly and compare the two further to understand the differences between a post hole digger and an auger.


Post Hole Digger

A post hole digger is used to create holes for outdoor structures such as fence posts. 


An auger is used to dig holes for outdoor structures requiring more depth, like electric fences and telephone poles.

The tool can also create space for pipework and gather deep soil samples. Aside from that, it can also cut holes in ice and drill wood.

Surface Penetration

Post Hole Digger

If you are going to dig in soft soil, opt for a post hole digger since it has a limited amount of power. It will be perfect for soft surfaces. Using an auger with a rotating blade in soft soil may throw the dirt around. 


If you are going to create a hole in hard surfaces such as ice, wood, concrete, or steel, an auger is the perfect tool since it is powered by fuel and can release more power than a post hole digger. 


Post Hole Digger

proper tools such posthole digger rock

  • Speed: It takes longer to make multiple holes since the tool is usually operated manually. 
  • Depth: Depends on the size but usually goes 3/4 of the handle length.
  • Safety: A post hole digger is safer than an auger since it does not involve parts that may cause an accident. 


  • Speed: It takes a shorter time to dig multiple holes since it has its own fueled power.
  • Depth: An auger can go from three feet to 95 feet deep into the surface.
  • Safety: The tool can be harmful since it is powered by fuel or electricity, and improper use may lead to accidents. 

Are you curious about how to use a digging bar? Read this article to learn in detail how to operate it: How To Use A Digging Bar [Step By Step Guide]

What Are The Two Types Of Augers?

farmer using tools handheld soil hole garden

The two types of augers are handheld and machine augers. Handheld augers are available in different types that can cater to the surface you're digging. There are augers designed for wood, ice, earth, soil, and planting. 

Machine augers are used for heavy-duty industrial and agricultural projects. They can be attached to bigger construction tools such as a tractor if the project demands. 

Is An Electric Or Gas Auger Better?

The answer depends on which tool has the characteristics that will accommodate your needs. If you want quiet, lightweight, and faster digging, you should opt for an electric auger. However, the drawback is that it is not as powerful as the gas auger.

On the other hand, the gas auger is cheaper, more powerful, and has greater endurance for creating more holes. In return, you will have to put up with noise, weight, and the smell of gasoline while working.

What Size Of Auger For A 4 x 4 Post?

To create a hole for a 4 x 4 post, you will need an auger with a diameter of six inches. 

Can I Use An Auger On A Hammer Drill?

farmer using tools handheld soil hole

Yes, you can use an auger on a hammer drill. However, you must be extra cautious and ensure that you are using the right size of auger for the drill bit shaft.

If you are not sure of the size, consult a professional to help you figure out the right auger size. Also, put the speed on the lowest setting to prevent the auger from being damaged.

Wondering if you can dig with a Toro Dingo? Find out the answer here: Can You Dig With A Toro Dingo?

Can An Auger Break A Pipe?

Yes, there are powerful augers that can break pipes. To prevent this from happening, ensure you are aware of the distance between the pipe and the tool. 

Can You Sharpen Auger Blades With A Knife Sharpener?

Yes, you can use a knife sharpener for honing an auger. To do so, remove the blades from the auger, then place the knife sharpener on a flat, solid surface. Hold it tightly and grind the auger blades against it repeatedly. 

Check out this knife sharpener on Amazon.

Here is a short video that may help you better understand how to sharpen your auger blades. 

Can One Person Operate An Auger?

Yes, a single person can operate an auger if the tool's diameter is not more than eight inches. If the size is bigger than that, then it is better and safer to have more than one person operate the tool. 

Should Post Hole Diggers Be Sharpened?

digging hole post fence on the backyard garden

Yes, a post hole digger must be sharpened since its edges can be bent and become blunt when used frequently. To restore its piercing power, sharpen it regularly. Here is " data-lasso-id="30990">how you can do that.

First, determine the side that you are going to sharpen. How do you know which one to sharpen? Check for a bevel or an angle that indicates it is blunt. Then put the post hole digger on the ground and sharpen that side with a file or an electric grinder.

Check out this video for a detailed demonstration of how to sharpen a post hole digger.  

How Much Horsepower Does An Auger Need?

The horsepower an auger needs depends on its size. For instance, an auger that's eight or 10 inches will need 50 to 60 PTO hp. 

Are you planning on building a retaining wall but do not know how far its posts should be from each other? Check out this article to learn the correct distance: How Far Apart Should Retaining Wall Posts Be?

In Summary

collab photo of a post hole digger and auger differences

The differences between a post hole digger and an auger can be categorized into three things: purpose, the surface type that it can penetrate, and performance.

A post hole digger is used to create holes for outdoor posts such as fencing or mailbox posts. On the other hand, an auger is intended to make deep holes in hard surfaces.

Regarding the type of surface each can penetrate, augers can create a fishing hole in ice and break through concrete, wood, and steel. A post hole digger is best used in soft soil.

Regarding performance, augers can create holes faster, while post hole diggers are safer to use since there are no parts or controls you need to deal with. 

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