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An earth auger is a device where a screw type conveyor acts on a solid or liquid to move it upward, or to otherwise manipulate the material. The common earth auger descends into the ground, and moves dirt up toward the surface. This kind of auger is attached to machines such as skid steer vehicles or other auger equipped vehicles. These may be sold or rented as attachments, or as stand alone models along with backhoes, cranes, and other gear.
As a simple machine, the auger has been around for many centuries. Manual augers were hand operated and often used for woodworking or other similar tasks. As technology evolved, more simple machines like augers were tied to engines or electrical motors to become power tools. The auger became more of a class of large drill, supported by steady applications of automated power.
Motorized augers are currently used in a variety of industries. In farming or agriculture operations, an auger can be used to move grain up into a hopper or other container. For outdoor tasks, an earth auger is commonly used to create fence post holes, or to turn up ground for other purposes. Earth augers can be used in gardening, and a gardening catalog may include this type of tool, along with instructions for using it to aid in creating or maintaining a garden plot.
Some forms of earth augers may be used in oil drilling equipment. Earth augers and drilling equipment are found in various sizes, for either small individual operation, or larger commercial enterprise. These types of tools are often essential to the main purpose of drilling for oil, to get far below the ground to access reservoirs of this valuable commodity.
Modern earth augers are used for other purposes as well. Engineers or others may use a smaller earth auger to take soil samples. Some of these machines have extra features for safety and convenience. One of these is a "quick stop" feature. If a earth auger machine jams, the quick stop feature turns off the motor and allows for withdrawal.
As a classical simple machine, the earth auger is a good example of how a manual tool can be easily customized as a power tool. It provides good models for "operational physics" where students of advanced physics seeks to understand them through applied mechanics and operational demonstrations. The development of the earth auger also represents how mass manufacturing and new technology have replaced a primitive tool with a sophisticated one.