Tools for Digging Deck Footings
Choosing the right digging tool for the job makes a back-breaking task less onerous.
It’s easy to underestimate the difficulty of digging holes for the footings of your deck. Rocks, roots, and clay are no fun to dig, especially if your region requires a deep footing. Very likely you can dig your footings in a weekend, so renting digging tools is an affordable option. For example, a post hole digger rents for only $10 a day. You can also rent mechanized diggers—a good idea if you have more than four or five holes to dig.
Digging deep footings is by far the most unpleasant task in building a deck. If you have only a few holes that are not very deep, you can get the job done with a post hole digger. For deeper holes, you’ll likely find that renting a power auger is money well spent. Be wary of the one-person auger—it can kick back when it hits a root or rock.
If buying, go for quality. You’ll likely be using these tools for years to come. If you plan to use tools that have been hanging around the garden shed for a couple of years, give them a sharp edge with a metal file or bench grinder. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.
Break It Down with a Digger Bar
Buy one of these tools and you’ll wonder how you ever managed to dig a hole in difficult soil without it. Aided by the heft of the bar, the chisel-like end easily loosens rock and clay so it can be removed with a shovel or clamshell digger.
Unless you are using a motorized auger, a footing begins by digging with a shovel. Get as far down as you can before turning to the less efficient clamshell digger.
Bring In the Post Hole Digger
Once the hole is too deep for a shovel to be effective, turn to that old knuckle buster, the post hole digger. Plunge it into the hole to break up the soil, then catch the soil with the clamshell and pull it out of the hole. For tough soil, continue to use the digging bar to break things up.
Pier digging made easy! This towable machine spares you the heavy lifting and bone-jarring jams of other mechanized diggers. Well worth the rental cost if you have many holes to dig, this hydraulic earth drill requires only a guiding hand to bore clean, deep footings.