DIY Post-Hole Digger

post hole digger parts

In a previous (pre-Maxwell) life, a friend of mine let me borrow a home-made post-hole digger he made out of cheap steel pipes and a garden hose adapter. I was amazed at how quickly it powered through the tough, clay-filled Tucson soil. With a new pool fence project looming, I decided to build one myself.

For less than $20 and using materials available at any home-improvement store, this DIY post-hole digger is just too easy to NOT use for those smaller jobs that don’t require a professional, gas-powered auger.

This technique will still require you to use a post-hole shovel to clean out the hole, but it’s MUCH easier than hammering into packed, rock-hard ground!



What you need…

  •  5’ or so length of ½” MPT (Male Pipe Thread) threaded pipe.
  • 1’ length of same ½” MPT threaded pipe
  • 1 – ½” FPT (Female Pipe Thread) coupling
  • 1 – 90 degree elbow FPT
  • 1 – shut off coupling that fits the male end of your garden hose and the ½” MPT pipe.
  •  Pipe tape

diy post hole digger parts


Assembly is pretty easy, really. Using pipe tape to seal the joints…

  • Attach the 90 degree elbow to one end of the long length of pipe.
  • Attach the shut-off coupling valve to the other coupling.
  • Screw the combined couplings to the short length of pipe.
  • Screw the short length to the 90 degree elbow.
  • Tighten everything down with wrenches.

It’s a very simple design that you can elaborate on if needed. I would think a “T” intersection to use as handles would work well but I didn’t need to get that detailed. I’ve also see the bottom of the long pipe cut at a 45 degree angle to help break up the dirt and disperse the water. Go crazy.

You also don’t NEED the shut-off valve. But if you don’t use it, you’ll have to screw your garden hose right to the digger and you’ll have to turn the water on and off at the source. I couldn’t see myself running back and forth while water spurted out of the digger.


Connect your garden hose to the source spigot and the other end to the digger’s valve. Make sure the valve is closed and turn on your garden water to full pressure. You’ll find out right away if your digger’s joints are sealed well enough. Tighten if you’ve got any leaks! You want 100% pressure to be directed down to the digger’s end.

(Helpful Tip:  Place a strip of tape on or mark the pipe with a permanent marker at the depth you need the hole. The general rule is 1/3 of the above-ground post should be buried. So if you’ve got a 6′ fence, you need a 9′ post with 3′ feet buried. Depends on your needs, though.)

diy post hole digger

Completed digger

Place the digger where you want your hole, and turn on the valve. (Note: You’re GOING to get dirty and muddy!) Just start moving the digger in slow circles, rotating it and applying downward pressure on the horizontal portion (or handles if you built it that way). It will immediately start boring into even the hardest ground. Keep at it until you reach your tape/pen indicator mark. Move onto the next hole, repeat.

Let the water soak in the holes to soften the dirt. Then it’s super-easy to go back and dig out the holes to the width you need.

Helpful tip: Make sure you don’t slam down your post-hole shovel into a hole filled with water. Believe me.


Have a better idea or found this useful? Leave me some comments or ask a question!

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