What is an Auger Bit – What is it Used for?

what are augers

For many who look at an auger bit, it may seem like just another drill bit. But there is an important difference both in design and function that makes an auger bit unique.

An auger bit uses a spiral-shaped design that allows it to drill deep into the wood. The spiral nature of the drill then ejects the wood particles that otherwise build up in the borehole.

The spiral shape of the drill also means that the wood is removed as the auger bit descends into the wood.

Typical auger bits will have a sharp point to ensure that the right location is being drilled.

Unlike the spiral design of the auger, the tip has a screw thread design that lets it set into the wood easier.

A Brief History

Auger bits have been around for well over 2,000 years. The first auger known to have been designed and used was in 250 BC.

Archimedes created the auger or water screw that was used to draw water uphill.

As the screw turned the threads collected the water from one reservoir, and then drew it up until the water was dumped into another reservoir.

It was not long before the auger was used for drilling purposes.

Because the waste material created by the auger was pulled out of the wood by the turning of the bit, it would not clog like other types of drill bits.

Variations of the auger bit included the T-auger. This is an auger bit designed to be used with one hand.

It dates back roughly 500 years although it may be considerably older. You hold this type of bit with the handle that sits perpendicular to the bit, thus creating the T-shape.

By the turn of the 20th century, T-augers were replaced by power drills.

The modern auger was invented by Ezra L’Hommedieu in 1809. Ezra received a patent for his spiral auger which is still in use today. 

Auger Bit Material and Uses

What are Augers Made of?

Until the turn of the 20th century, auger bits were generally made from hot rolled cast steel.

However, that type of material has been replaced by high carbon tool steel. This form of steel is harder and more resilient.

The result is that under normal use conditions, the auger bit will last for a long time with relatively little in the way of maintenance.

Tool steel is slightly softer compared to high-speed steel that is often used in standard drill bits.

Because most augers are designed to cut into the wood, the metal does not need to be quite as strong as high-speed steel.

However, there are some types of auger bits that may use the harder form of steel, although it is not that common.

One variation is the tip of the auger bit, some of which may include titanium carbide. This material is so strong it can cut through nails.

Auger bits are also not known for being coated. Many types of drill bits are coated for additional protection and strength.

But auger bits normally do not need such coating as the tool steel is more than strong enough to last for a long time under normal use conditions.

What are Auger Bits Used for?

The auger bit tends to be long, strong and used to bore deep holes into materials such as wood, metal, and the like.

What makes the auger well suited for boring is that the design pulls the loose material up and out of the hole the auger is creating.

Because of the nature of the auger bit, it is just as useful as being a hand tool as it is powered by a drill.

The deep holes created by the auger make it best suited for running pipes and cables in-between walls and flooring.

The auger can also be used to drill through thick material such as decking.

Other uses include creating mortises in hardwood doors that are normally thick.

But even larger augers are used to drill holes in the earth.

Such auger bits tend to be quite large and long, pulling up enough earth so that posts can be implanted. Devices used to drill for post holes are called earth augers.

Augers are well suited for a wide variety of materials.

This is because their nature is such that they can easily drill and remove material that prevents clogging.

Types of Auger Bit

What are the Different Types of Augers?

Although the auger design is roughly the same across different variations, you do have several different types from which to choose.

The types are specialized to drill into specific materials or create a unique effect.

1- Carbide-Tipped:

Quite similar to the standard wood auger bits. The difference is the carbide tip on the end.

This allows the auger to cut through nails and other hard, hidden objects in the wood.

With standard wood auger bits, a hidden nail might tear it up. With a carbide-tipped auger bit, it can cut through the nails easily.

Mostly used for demolition work or when re-using wood from other projects.

2- Concrete:

This type of auger bit is used with hammer drills. The concrete auger bit is essentially the same as a wood auger, except it’s designed to cut into concrete and masonry.

The result is a neat bore hole through which pipes or wiring can be passed. Concrete auger bits are also quite sturdy and designed to last for a long time.

3- Earth:

This type of auger bit is used to bore holes into the soil. This is normally done to create holes for fence posts.

You will often see them used in gardens. It does need a good motor, such as a cordless drill or chainsaw motor, to get it to work properly.

There are variations of earth augers designed to drill through concrete or tarmac.

These are very similar to standard earth augers. But they have a special tip designed to rip through rocks, stones, and other hard material.

This is normally used to break up asphalt, concrete, and other hard materials that are part of the soil.

4- Ice:

Thanks to many television shows and movies depicting ice fishing, this may be the most recognizable of all types of auger bits.

Ice augers tend to be quite large and are normally used with a cordless drill to punch holes in the ice for fishing purposes.

5- Triple Fluted:

This is a distinctive type of auger bit that can be identified by its flared end. The triple-fluted bit is quite aggressive.

This means that it can cut through wood rapidly when neatness is not a requirement.

Mostly used for demolition, the triple-fluted auger bit is considerably faster compared to most of its counterparts.

6- Wood:

This is the most common type of auger bit. It is used to drill into wood and create holes to pass pipes or cables.


Auger Bit vs. Other Drill Bits – What to Choose?

Now that you know what an auger bit does and the different types, the question becomes whether you should choose it over other types of drill bits.

The answer depends on what task you want to be accomplished when drilling.

Because standard drills are not like augers and augers cannot do certain things compared to other drill types.

To help you better understand which is the best choice, it pays to know the advantages that using an auger bit brings to your project.

a) Depth:

You can drill neat holes into the wood at depths up to 31” or more depending on the length of the bit.

This allows you to create all sorts of projects from furniture to decks and more.

b) Ease:

Because of the design of the auger bit, it does not require much pressure to drive it into the material.

This means that the auger bit itself does most of the work. This translates to creating neat holes in wood and other materials while requiring very little in the way of strength.

Even hand drills using augers are relatively simple to use.

c) Quality:

Because of the sharp spurs along the edges of the bit, the overall quality of the holes being made is quite good.

This means a smooth, uniform appearance to the hole that has been created.

d) Removal:

Because of the way the auger is designed, the loose material created when boring is quickly removed.

The easy ejection of such material means that the auger can be used repeatedly without having to stop and clean away the shavings.

Of course, there are a few disadvantages to using an auger bit. Most notably its lack of versatility.

Auger bits are primarily designed to bore holes into materials such as wood. How auger bits compare to other types of drill bits consists of the following.

  • Brad Point: Brad point bits are faster, but narrower and do not drill deep holes
  • Forstner: Messier than auger bits, but can cut flat-bottom holes better
  • Hole: Better at making shallower, wider holes compared to auger bits
  • Speed: Speed bits are faster, but messier compared to auger bits

And those are the advantages and disadvantages of auger bits as compared to other common drill bits designed to create holes in materials.

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