Post Hole Digger - Twist Type

We lost one of our cats last week. Haven’t figured out what he died from. Absent obvious trauma, getting to the bottom of such mysteries is difficult at best. I respectfully buried him the next morning in a plot out front where we’ll set up a little flower garden. That spot was never any good for food production anyway.

Around here, the soil can be a pain to break up. Sometimes a mattock or pick ax is required to get down to one foot or so. Below that, it transition into a compacted sandy soil that can be carved with a knife or trowel.

The typical clam shell post hold digger has little trouble with the sandy soil. That is, until it get down to about 3 feet. Then the handles can start to bind in the edges of the hole, and the little jaws mock you as you get less and less dirt with each pull. Newer articulated versions don’t have that problem, but they only go so deep.

Image from http://www.hooverfence.com/tools/adjust-augers.htm

I picked up a twist type digger from an antique shop as a lark one day. But that thing still works, and I’ve dug many holes with it. Once the soil lets it get a bite, twisting the thing drives it deep, and it will pick up all the dirt inside the cutting head and even dirt above the head id it is driven deep.

In digging the burial hole for our kitty, I made three bores with the twisty. I then connected them by knocking down the sides of the bores and then shapes the hole with a plunging root cutter. I used the clam shell digger to go after the loose dirt in the wider hole. When I was finished, I had quite the nice place to lay him to rest with his bedding and some of his favorite things.

Why do I mention all this? Well, it’s the long way to get to one more neat thing about the twist type, or manual auger type of digger. The T-handle at the top is connected to the cutting head at the bottom by a threaded iron pipe. This pipe can be removed, and an additional length added for a deeper hole. Our cat’s grave is 4 feet deep (or even a touch more than that.) That holes could have gone down to our high water table if I wanted to. Just add length. The ability to get down to water in a truly trashed time might be a life saver.

Digging a deep hole is useful for various things.

  • Vertical French drain – to allow runoff where surface drainage doesn’t exist
  • Shallow well
  • Makeshift commode
  • Hiding valuables (and retrieving them)
  • Drilling inspection holes
  • Retrieving deep soil samples for testing
  • Checking soil for problems with foundations
  • Pouring concrete supports that need to reach harder dirt
  • Boring skylights for earth covered homes (just kidding)
  • Searching for and retrieving bug-out caches

I’m sure there other good reasons to have a tool like this, aside from building fences. Give it some thought.

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