How To Use An Electric Post Hole Digger

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by the staff of TheAllElectricLawn

how to use an electric post hole digger

Electric post hole diggers are used to remove earth from a hole that has been excavated in the ground.  In this post, we will show you how to use an electric post hole digger.

Post hole diggers can be used for many tasks such as installing signposts, deck posts, fence posts, or plant fruit trees or ornamental plants. They are designed to dig into compact soil, clay soil, and other densely-packed soil.  They make digging into these types of soils much easier and manually digging with a shovel, pickaxe, and manual post hole diggers.

Many different engine types power these post hole diggers.  There are gas post hole diggers, electric diggers, and battery powered diggers.

What is an electric post hole digger?

An electric post hole digger is a device that is powered by electricity, either by a plug or battery powered.  The tool consists of 2 handles that have either one or two blades attached to them. The blades can be straight, curved, or even hooked at one end.

The blades provide leverage for lifting the soil out of the hole, and they are also used for digging into difficult soil or just making digging multiple holes easier. As the blade spins, dirt is lifted up and out of the hole your digging.  It operates very much like a handheld drill; think of the large auger as a large drill bit.

Generally, electric powered models are designed for one-man operation.  The larger gas models are not designed for one-man operation but are usually best used with two operators.

Modern electric post hole diggers usually will have a brushless motor that produces enough power to be equivalent to a gas engine.  A brushless motor allows the electric digger to accomplish many tasks that smaller gas engine diggers can, such as installing fence posts and plant fruit trees.

Getting to know your post hole digger

Before you start any project, make sure you know how to operate your post hole digger properly.  Know how to start and stop the post hole digger before attempting to dig your first hole.

This includes how to engage the direction or the auger, both forward and reverse. Ensure to familiarize yourself with all the operating and safety features before running your electric post hole digger.  As always, refer to your operating instructions for more detailed information.

Also, be aware of any safety mechanisms that might be specific to your post hole digger.  For example, an anti-kickback mechanism, which will kill power to the auger when digging into the soil, might be too tough for the tool. Please read and refer to your tools operating instructions for more safety information.

Call before you dig

Before digging in your lawn or garden, you should always Call 811 ( for those living in the USA).  This is especially important if you are digging near and around your home.  It is always better to safe than sorry.  Nothing will ruin your Saturday afternoon like hitting a water line or buried underground cable in your yard.  Not only is it a safety issue, but it will also delay your project that much further.

Safety first always

Ensure you are wearing the proper clothing and eye protection before the operation of a post hole digger.  At a minimum, you should have eye protection, close-toed shoes, and no loose or baggy clothing.  I would suggest long pants, boots,  and gloves for extra protection.  As always, refer to your operating instructions for more suggestions on protective clothing.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to exceed the depth capacity when digging a hole.  Exceeding the depth capacity of the electric digger might damage the electric motor and possibly cause the operator to injure themselves, both of which we want to avoid.

How To Use An Electric Post Hole Digger: A Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1: Powering Up the Post Hole Digger

Depending on what type of post hole digger you are using, you will need to make sure you have the appropriate power source for your post hole digger.

If your post hole digger is a plugin model, make sure that you have an electrical outlet near your dig location.  Also, if you will use an extension cord, make sure the cord is rated for tool and outdoor use.

If you have a battery powered post hole digger, make sure you have charged and installed the battery into the tool.  It might be wise to have a few extra batteries on hand if you plan on digging multiple holes.

Step 2: Attach the auger to the driveshaft

If your auger is already assembled, then you can obviously skip this step, but if not, you will need to attach the auger to the driveshaft and motor.

Generally, this is a simple process of flipping the powerhead over, removing a locking pin from the auger bit, installing the auger bit on the driveshaft, and then reinstalling the locking pin.  Refer to your specific model’s instruction manual for more detailed instructions.

 

Step 3: Prepare to Dig

If your post hole digger has a power switch, make sure it is turned on.

Begin by selecting the appropriate operating model.  For most common holes, this would be selecting “forward.”

Mark the area where you are going to start digging.  Making sure your feet are firmly planted on the work surface.  It may also help to have your hips locked to help increase stability.

Ensure to have both hands on the pole hole digger grips and keep the post whole digger around waist level.

Never and I mean never, touch the auger bit when the tool is on.  It is a quick way to do some serious injury to your hands or feet.

Before starting the auger, keep a firm grip on both handles and make sure the auger is pointed down toward the ground surface you want to dig the hole into at a 90 degree angle.  I can’t emphasize enough that you have a good handle on the tool before contacting the soil/ground surface.

That 90 degree angle position is also super important.  If you start to dig at an angle, you could cause binding issues, and your post will be unlevel.

 

Step 4: Digging the Hole

Have the post hole digger above the surface you want to dig into.  Most post hole diggers have a lockout or safety device to keep the device from accidentally being activated, which could cause a safety issue.  Make sure you press the lockout and then squeeze the trigger.

Allow the post hole digger to gain full speed.  This might take a few seconds.  Lower the auger to the soil surface, making sure you maintain that 90 degree angle.

The auger will do most of the work, so you don’t have to push down excessively into the soil.  The auger bit will pull the post hole digger further into the soil surface.

At this point, the hole might start filling with soil that the auger has loosened.  You have to clear the hole often to keep the post hole digger from bogging down, keeping the cut clean, and reducing your effort to dig the hole.

To clear the debris, while the post hole digger is at full speed, slowly lift the auger from the hole.  This will allow the debris to clear from the auger blade.  If you have ever drilled a hole in a hard piece of wood or metal, it is the same type of procedure where you drill a little then back out a little to clear the wood or metal shavings.

Once you have reached your desired depth in the ground, you can remove the post hole digger from the hole you dug and release the trigger—repeat Steps 3 and Step4 for each hole you need to dig. It is important to remember not to dig a hole with a deeper ground depth than the tool can.

 

Step 5: Clean Up

After you have finished your last hole, you will need to do a little clean up on your post hole digger to make sure it keeps operating correctly.

You will first need to remove your battery pack or disconnect your extension cord.  Then remove the auger bit from the drive shaft.  You can reverse the steps from Step 2.

You might want to store the locking pin with the auger blade, so you don’t lose it in between digs.  Clean any dirt or debris from the auger blade before storing the blade.  You might need to use a damp cloth and some mild soap to get it clean for the next operation.

Please don’t get any moisture on the motor housing; it could damage your post hole digger motor.  As usual, consult your model’s instruction manual for specific cleaning instructions for your post hole digger model.

 

Step 6: Storing the Post Hole Digger

Before storing your post hole digger, make sure the battery is removed for battery powered models, or make sure the power cord is stored correctly for plugin models.

Allowing the brushless motor to cool before storage is a good idea as well.  You should also make sure the auger blade is not attached to the motor housing before storing the tool.

As I mentioned previously, you will want to store your auger blades locking pin with the auger blade.  The auger blade should be cleaned as previously mentioned before storing the blade. Blades should be kept in dry areas to help reduce any rusting.

 

Finishing Up

You have probably noticed that some of these tips are pretty basic, but I think it is important to remember the basics.  Ensure the electric post hole digger is charged, or you have an available extension cord and outlet and ready to work before you start digging.  Work with the tool in front of you and keep it at waist level, always keeping both hands on the handles or grips.  Always wear eye protection and make sure your feet are planted firmly on your work surface.

The electric post hole digger is designed to reduce the stress on the user by eliminating the work of digging with a shovel while providing plenty of power.  If you follow these steps, you can have a little fun digging holes in the ground with your electric post hole digger.