A brief history of auger bits

 
     
     
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 An Archimedes water screw, which carries water to the top of its auger-like structure as it spins and was developed to carry water uphill 

The first known auger was invented in 250 B.C. by Archimedes. It came in the form of a water screw that he developed to move large amounts of water uphill.

 
     
 Image showing how an Archimedes screw works 

As the screw turned, the flat, wide thread collected small pools of water, pushing them along the bed of a trough, before depositing them into another reservoir.

 
     
 An auger bit clearing waste wood from a bore hole as it drills 

This principle was soon applied to drilling. As a drill bit turned and bored a hole, the wide, flat screw thread pushed waste material up and out of the hole to stop it from getting clogged.

 
     
   

T-augers

 
 An example of a T-auger, which is effectively an auger bit attached to a straight handle 

Originally, augers were used as hand tools, and turned using a handle mounted across the top of the bit. These were called T-augers due to their shape.

 
     
 15th century illustration showing St. Joseph using a T-auger in his workshop 

A 15th Century illustration by Dr. Henry Mercer depicts St. Joseph using a T-auger and, although it is not believed that the auger was used as a boring tool during biblical times, the existence of this picture at least proves its use for that purpose during the century the image was made.

 
     
   

Modern augers

 
 Example of a L'Hommedieu pattern auger, which was developed to make shipbuilding easier by Edgar L'Hommedieu 

In 1809, an American shipwright named Ezra L'Hommedieu filed the first patent for the spiral auger, which is still in use today. He subsequently went on to refine the design specifically for use in ship building.

 

For more information, see: What are the different auger bit patterns?

 
     
 DIYer using an auger bit in a power drill for a chair-making project 

By the early 1900s, T-augers were out of date, and the first power drills were already in existence. Auger bits are used with power drills to this day.

 
     
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