Wish to set up a garden fence or the deck of your dreams? Want to plant an oak tree or set up a bird feeder on a post? For these tasks, you need to make some significantly formidable holes. When it comes to making holes, you definitely cannot proceed efficiently without a post hole digger.
You may think of shoveling, but then it is a messy as well as an excruciating job. A standard shovel can make a larger hole than what is required, but the soil flanking the post should be softer than usual. In the case of hard-packed clay soil or soil with rocks, a shovel will not perform efficiently.
A structure’s strength and integrity depend on how well each supporting hole is drilled and filled. Thus, instead of a shovel, get a post hole digger.
Replacing a shovel with a post hole digger means easing the task of digging holes. Whether setting up a fence or setting up a mailbox, a post hole digger makes your job simple and less exhausting. It is used for creating deep and cylindrical holes for setting up a post in the ground.
Regarded as an excellent tool for any kind of digging requirements, a post hole digger works by making the right-sized holes for efficiently completing the gardening or outdoor maintenance work. It perforates the ground and loosens the soil.
Diggers are also surprisingly capable of removing dirt from hardened soil so that you can plant trees. They can also aid in setting up trenches for irrigation.
Of all post hole diggers, the manual ones are the cheapest to buy and are ideal for light to medium digging into soft, sandy soils. They use a scooping mechanism that calls for significant muscular effort. They are suitable for planting trees, setting a fence, and lengthening irrigation trenches.
Manual diggers are typically a pair of curved blades existing at the end of two long handles. Using them involves pushing them into the soil, after which the blades penetrate the soil, and you then lift the handles to break soil apart and remove dirt to make a hole. Closing these handles facilitate soil collection.
Typically, these diggers are not for soils with lots of rocks or granite. However, a few of them can deal with hard soil. Most manual models are capable of digging up to four feet deep when the soil is soft and loose.
This guide aims to make you choose the most suitable manual post hole digger by introducing the reviews of the top 5 post hole diggers along with a comprehensive buying guide.
Reviews of 2020’s 5 Best Manual Post Hole Diggers
Seymour 21306 AU-S6 Iwan Auger with Hardwood Handle, 6″ Diameter
This is a general-purpose post hole digger that is admired for its versatility of working with a variety of soils amidst different weather conditions. In simple words, you can rely on it for several domestic tasks. There is no need for you to be a professional to leverage the best digger. This is what this tool proves!
Weighing just 7.4 pounds, this manual post hole digger can quickly move on to make you complete your task. You only need to turn it while pushing it down the soil. The filled auger should be pulled to dump the soil before beginning again. It works efficiently as long as big rocks do not come in its way.
This digger comes with a riveted steel blade due to which it is easy to dig extremely stony or tough surfaces. The blade performs sharply and does not get affected by the challenging terrains.
Another commendable feature is the steel shaft that links the blades to the tractor. It is sturdy and is made to last for a long time. Due to it, the risk of breakdowns or bends is minimal during its lifespan.
Unlike other manual diggers, this one has a distinctly welded T-handle made up of steel. This handle can work with various blades to make the whole digger stretch. The shape is convenient and reliable to ensure comfortable handling.
The handle is made up of hardwood, while the blade measures 6 inches in diameter to dig most types of soils easily to give you up to 8-inch deep holes. The auger is such that it can handle small rocks and roots so that you do not end up spending more energy and time. Still, you will have to clear larger rocks and debris, as this tool cannot handle them.
- Light and portable
- Sturdy build
- Adaptable to different soils including hard ones
- Deeper digging
- Wider holes output
- Easy to handle and use
- Extra strength
- Not reliable for rocky soil and large projects
- A bit pricey
Fiskars 60 Inch Steel Post Hole Digger
Consider this digger if you truly want to dig deep holes. It comes fully equipped for this role A 6-foot user can quickly dig holes up to 60 inches deep without being on knees, breaking the back, or stooping over. The lightweight construction with stainless steel material ensures the best blend of durability and maneuverability without instilling fatigue or straining arms or fingers.
Unlike a wooden post hole digger, this one does not rot or reflect typical wear and tear. The innovative design boasts offset handles so that you can have that intended additional foot of depth. With them, you can dig holes that are 12 inches deeper than the conventional diggers, keeping same the effort and energy, while protecting the knuckles.
The digger’s cutting mechanism boasts welded 14-gauge steel blades. Along with the shafts of 16-gauge steel, you can expect superb durability.
Even the blades having a diameter of 6.5 inches are optimized for efficient performance and reliability. They enable you to dig easily into the dense soil. There is no flex like fiberglass and no short life like wood-handled ones.
The ability to dig deeper makes this digger ideal for a variety of less-vigorous tasks. For an average person who has one or two small tasks, this tool performs efficiently.
- Extremely stable
- Extremely deep holes
- Knuckle protection
- Easy to use offset handles
- Resistant to rust and other types of deterioration
- Lifetime warranty
- Only for soft, light soil
- Not for constant or vigorous use
Seymour Structron Hercules Post Hole Digger PD48
Consider this manual digger if you are a professional digger or have some expertise in digging. This is because this one is specially designed for constant vigorous use or highly professional tasks. This means that this digger is exceptionally sturdy as well as durable to perform the most demanding industrial digging tasks.
With 10 pounds of weight, you get a heavy-duty digger in your hand. The extra durability comes from its 4.5′ fiberglass handle that features a core insert to reinforce the bond with the head, the area of highest stress. Even this core is made of fiberglass. This build material is known for its stability, toughness, and strength.
This digger also comes with a cushioned grip that ensures better comfort as well as grip. The handle is reinforced with a soft layer of cushion for this purpose.
The digger’s blade has a 6.25-inch point spread. It means that at the time of use, the spread reaches a radius of around 6.25 inches from the center. This means less effort with optimal yield.
- Extra durable
- Extra strength
- Reinforced to endure stress and highest impacts
- Efficient for heavy-duty industrial and commercial tasks
- Comfortable to handle and use
- Cushioned grip
- Not for sandy surface
AMES Post Hole Digger/Ruler, Steel – Cheap post hole digger
This is the manual digger to consider for making holes for mailboxes, fence posts, and decks. It is also capable of digging footings and in-ground supports for several other installations even in remote sites. Yes, it is portable, although it weighs 10 pounds!
Unlike other manual diggers, this one comes with a unique but handy feature of a measuring stick that is on the handle. The stick is suitably attuned so that you can get various hole depths with the highest accuracy. Thus, you do not have to face any ambiguities. You can expect it to dig out to 28 inches.
The handles of this digger are made up of hardwood. However, a distinct aspect of these handles is that they are termite-proof. They are even strong and durable. This means that the handles can endure any abuse or damage that can surface from time to time.
A pivot links the two handles and is situated at the neck of the steel blades. Pulling the handles means closing the two shovels’ points. This can be a stiff experience but gradually becomes smooth with the repeated use of the digger.
The whole handle consists of a jumbo cushion grip that eliminates the risks of blisters and other discomforts occurring due to the wooden surface. This is another reason why this wood-handled digger is famous for prolonged and continuous tasks.
- Compact and portable
- Accurate outcome due to the ruler
- Cushion grip
- Easy to use
- Not for very tough surfaces
Razorback Post Hole Digger 33″
This digger is known for its scissor-like design that is unique and handy enough to make it efficient for you to dig holes. This design eliminates the need for your hands to touch while in use and reduces the overall effort.
The tips of pointed blades with a point spread of 7 inches make it very easy to dig, while the design of the head enables removing all dirt securely from the hole. The beveled head made of carbon steel along with sharp blades allows penetrating deeply into the soil for scooping big loads.
Coming to the handles, they are textured, serrated at the ends for supporting dirt transfer, and are made of fiberglass. Thus, they are stronger and more durable than wooden handles. The handles are 33 inches long and do not facilitate knuckle collision.
Overall, this is a heavy-duty digger that can handle even the toughest task if you are energetic to use it.
- Easy to use
- Deep soil penetration
- No knuckle collision
- A bit heavy
- Costliest option in the list
How to Choose the Best Manual Post Hole Digger?
Not all manual post hole diggers are identical. They differ in terms of size, shape, weight, blade, build material, and price. Thus, there is no single manual digger that is best for all buyers or users. The best manual digger is the one that suits your requirements. In simple words, it does what you want it to do.
Thus, to find one such manual digger, you need to know your requirements, such as the purpose of usage frequency of usage, type of soil, and budget. Based on the identified requirements, you can check out and compare the features or specifications of promising models.
Comparing them as per your requirements makes you choose the best post hole digger for you. These features or specifications, along with the consideration for requirements, are nothing but the buying factors. So, let’s explore these factors as answers to commonly asked questions.
How soil type and frequency of use affect my digger selection?
Both these factors significantly affect how you choose your manual post hole digger. Soils have a different texture, compositions, shades, and drainage capacity.
These dissimilarities determine how tough or easy it will be to dig. For example, soft soil is just ideal for most manual diggers. However, if the soil is rocky, a motorized digger is a perfect choice.
Similarly, you also need to know the desired frequency of use or how often will you use a hole digger. Will you use it just once a while, or do you wish to use it regularly? In the case of the latter, you will need an extremely durable model.
Depth of Hole
The intended depth of the hole you want to make is an essential factor to consider. You need to identify the maximum depth up to which you wish to bore.
This is required to choose a manual digger that can penetrate well up to the desired depth level. For this, just look for the depth ratings of different diggers. As a fact, some diggers are capable of digging deeper than others that have a moderate digging ability.
In case you are unsure of how deep you need a digger to go down the soil, it is wise to select the one that can dig deeper than what you need at present. With such a tool, you will be able to handle a wider range of projects in the future.
Types of manual post hole diggers
Yes, there are four main types of post hole diggers, each of which has a unique structure or design. Let’s explore them.
- Traditional: Features the simplest design with minimum parts as well as features. This style is ideal for simple tasks that do not need any complex machinery. It is suitable for beginners and ordinary gardeners.
- Scissor-action/Split-handled: Has a design that reflects a pair of scissors, as the name indicates. This design is ideal for rocky soils, as the welded blades will not detach from the handles.
- Double-pivot: Features two pivot points instead of only one. This design works precisely opposite to that of a traditional digger. It works by holding the soil tightly for making a hole.
- Offset: Has straight handles that are placed close to one another. They offset at the top by budging in opposite directions. Such a mechanism demands less force for making narrower holes.
- Universal: Features a single, long, and straight handle along with a shorter and lever-operated one. This design can handle all types of tasks with one plunge. It can also scoop and quickly discard the loose soil.
You should choose the design that best fits your requirements.
What should be the weight of my manual post hole digger?
Digging a post hole is a significantly energetic task in any situation. However, there are a few factors that are exclusive to the digging tool in use, which make it easier or tougher to dig. One of these factors is the weight.
Although a heavyweight is often an indicator of a well-built and durable tool, it is also evidence of excessive fatigue. For a regular home user who needs a digger for intermittent use, a digger that is lighter is just fine. Such a tool will weigh around 8-10 pounds and is usually a suitable weight range for most people.
In case you need a heavier unit, consider looking for a model that comes with comfort features such as ergonomic handles and padded grips. These small aspects make a big difference by easing your hard work.
However, avoid investing in a too heavy digger. This is because such a model can result in neck and shoulder issues in the long run. After all, you will be carrying it from one place to another in your yard or garden.
At the same time, do not select the lightest one, as such a model will be flimsy enough to make you spend a tough time digging holes. In short, just choose a digger with a medium weight and a sturdy build. Such a digger is efficient for most tasks.
A heavy digger will go deeper with each drive than a lighter one. As a result, it will remove more rocks and dirt. However, you will find it harder to use as time passes during the day. Consider a heavy model if you are digging just one or two holes quite often, as it will dig quicker.
For digging a row of holes, choose the weight as per your upper body strength. Lifting 5 or 7 pounds for hours is easier than handling 10 to 12 pounds. Even if you can handle 12 pounds, these additional pounds can have an impact on your body with time. So, do think meticulously and then choose the weight.
Which build material is the best for a post hole digger?
One of the most important factors to consider while buying a manual post hole digger is its build material. Conventionally, a manual digger is made up of a wooden handle and a steel head.
Nevertheless, with the evolving technology, the tool is now being made with other materials to sustain vigorous use. For most users, a light post hole digger made up of steel is fine. Steel diggers are stronger and more dependable than the cheaper metal or wooden models.
Although they cost more than other models, steel diggers last much more than what you may expect. So, it is worth investing some more money if durability is a top priority for you. Buying a cheaper digger initially and then investing in another one within the period of one to two years is unwise and costlier.
A steel handle is also capable of enduring wear and tear. It is not susceptible to corrosion and other weather elements that otherwise afflict the wooden handles. Still, there are a few reasons why a wood handle is in demand.
First, diggers with wooden handles are lighter and more economical than their steel counterparts, although this is not always true. Price and weight are indeed critical factors to consider for most buyers, but most of them prefer the durability that steep diggers never fail to ensure.
You will also find handles made up of fiberglass. These handles are quite stronger as well as resistant to rotting and splintering. One of the best features is a triple wall of fiberglass. It indicates that the handles are durable and comfortable to hold. It is worth having these handles if you will be digging a lot.
The older models had wooden handles that were susceptible to breakdown and became fragile with age. On the other hand, the modern models today have fiberglass handles reinforced for extra strength. Consider one such digger for rockier or harder soil, as the handles ensure the leverage required to dig.
How should the handle of a manual post hole digger be?
Ideally, the handle of a manual post hole digger should be sturdy, comfortable, and easy to grip. A few post hole diggers come with a unique handle that defends your knuckles at the time of digging. The new design removes the common issue of knuckle collision that was prevalent with older models.
A few handles come with some alteration at their ends due to which you can bring them close without thumping your knuckles together. The rest of the models have straight handles. Any of the two options will work, but ensure that they are strong enough to manage the task.
Then, the handles must be securely affixed to the digger’s head so that they do not become loose or come off while digging holes. Further, they should have proper cushioning to make it easy to grip comfortably.
You should also consider the length of the handle, as it helps in identifying how easy it will be for you to leverage on the digger. As a thumb rule, the longer the handles are, the better it is! Well, there are two reasons for this rule.
First, a longer handle typically means more leverage. Second, a longer handle can easily make a deeper hole. In short, the longer the handle, the deeper your hole is.
Many manually-operated diggers have handles that are 47 to 60 inches long. A taller person will be ideally comfortable with the 60-inch handle.
How should the blade of a manual post hole digger be?
Generally, larger blades are preferable. The larger the blade, the superior will be the digger’s performance in terms of grasping and moving the intended dirt. You should go with strong and sturdy blades of copious size.
Look for pointed blades that taper towards the end but are wide atop. This is because they are ideal for efficiently digging through hard dirt, gravel, and soil due to the pointed end that can easily cut into these hurdles. This is something that rounded blades cannot do efficiently.
Rounded blades are ideal for normal soil for which sharp blades are inefficient. Thus, it is wise to select a digger as per the type of dirt you intend to dig through.
Smaller blades are ideal for making small holes. For example, you can choose them for setting up a small decorative fence. However, for setting a heavy pole or fence that needs to endure some abuse, a deeper and bigger hole is required for which larger blades are essential.
Focus also on the spread of blades (distance between their tips) while pushing them into the soil. A wider spread means easier digging to have a wide hole. It also takes away more dirt whenever you close the blades.
You should also check the blade’s length, as it is responsible for how deep a post hole will be. The longer the blades, the more profound the dig can be.
The other aspect of blades that you focus on is the joint where the two blades meet. This joint needs to be stable as well as strong, as it should not loosen easily. To ensure that this joint is strong, check out for a secure swivel point. Without it, even the sturdy blades are futile.
Picking the best post hole digger is essential for easier and more efficient fencing, planting, and other hole-oriented jobs than selecting just any digger. If you are a passionate DIY enthusiast, you will be happy to invest in this handy tool. So, which is the best manual digger for you?
It is the one that best suits all your requirements and is within your budget. In case you are confused as a beginner, we suggest getting started with the Fiskars 60 Inch Steel Posthole Digger for soft soil and non-vigorous use. It is exceptionally stable, digs very deep holes, protects your knuckles, lasts for a long time, is resistant to rust and other deterioration. Above all, it comes with a lifetime warranty.