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Let's talk hand augers

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Let's talk hand augers
A buddy of mine bought a Nils 5" auger a few years ago and the thing cuts like a dream. Almost easier to pack it and drill holes then my 8" gas auger not only for weight but convenience as well.

I have been looking at them but curious about some of the other augers as well. What do you guys prefer?

I feel like hand augers have came a LONG way. I use to use a 8" strikemaster. When blades were brand new, no problem but after several uses, you might as well throw it away. I feel the same about the eskimo hand augers.
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Re: [americanforkdude] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
There is no doubt the Nils makes a great hand auger, your only issue is if they get dulled they are very expensive to get sharpened and not something the average DIY guy can sharpen themselves since there are angles and cambers to the blade that require a jig to keep things positioned correctly to sharpen.. (Price is also an issue Nils run close to $200)

As for your issues with the other hand augers, I didn't have too much of a problem with mine, but I was very anal with making sure that others didn't damage it by dropping on the ice and dinging the edges, I always kept a cover on the blades when not in use and watched out for sand and rocks in the ice so I didn't damage the blades, but they were never as easy as a nils to punch a hole.... (Bought my laser for $40 on KSL)

My question for you is have you considered the electric drill option? I got a strikemaster laser hand auger and took off the hand crank, bought a $15 adapter from auger to 1/2" drill.. Which I already had a drill for home shop use... Anyway I use this all the time and with the Milwaukee 2804 drill, this auger will punch tons of 8" holes per battery pack, it never rests, it just punches holes up to 3.5' deep... Last year on Strawberry it drilled the full depth of the bit and I had to plunge the chuck into the water before the bit cleared the ice, but it never had a problem drilling holes like that in less than a minute... If I would have done that by hand it would have taken me a half hour and risked a heart attack... as for gassers, they drill okay if you don't mind scaring every fish in the area away for half an hour... I still have a 10" Eskimo gasser, which has it's place, but it's not on my first string line up... I'd consider going to electric if I were you, come try my auger and see for yourself... Home Depot was selling the drill for around $200 on the black Friday deal... Not sure what the price was, but it was cheaper than the usual Amazon price... I found Ebay had a good deal on the drill too if you get serious about doing it... Make sure you get the battery and charger in the drill kit and not just the tool, or else you'll spend more in the long run... It's a little expensive, but if you do any home projects you'll be happy to have a great tool that does double duty... To me the cost of the Nils and the electric drill option are very similar and you can use the drill all summer, not so much for the nils... Good luck... Jeff
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Re: [SkunkedAgain] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
I had a Nils for years. Great auger. I took the plunge and got the Kdrill three years ago. Love it, and will never go back. Light, chipper blades for overlapping of holes or opening of old holes much easier. New blades are only $40 and they will re-sharpen your existing blades, free, for life.

A new Nils head is over $100. Itís a shaver blade which makes overlapping or opening old holes more problematic. Also, to sharpen current Nils blade, you have to send away at a higher cost.

With the drill, they are both fast augers, but I believe the kdrill is more versatile. JMO
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Re: [6x7] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
One last issue, the elephant in the house if you will.

When you cut ice you cut an "area" of ice from the hole.

Any 4" hole, no matter the brand, cuts an area of 12.56 square inches.

Any 8" hole, no matter the brand, cuts an area of 50.24 square inches.

So, doubling the size of the hole does not double the area it cuts, it quadruples it.

For comparison, a 5" hole, Nils or any other, is 19.63 square inches.

In short, if you are going to compare any brand against any brand of hand auger, you need to do it between the same size.

An 8" hole will always be 2 1/2 times harder then a 5" hole, no matter what brand.

I have always wondered why the odd ball size of auger, now I know. No other brand that I know of has a 5" hole to compare with. Hmmmm, is that by design.

I have used the Nils, and I found it to be a competent drilling device for ice, but, I guess I know too much.

The key to any auger will always be keeping it protected, keeping it sharp. Are some better then others? Probably, but if I can ever get the money and opportunity to compare, it will be a fair comparison between sizes.
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Re: [americanforkdude] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
Already some good info posted in response to your question so I will keep my response short. Hate Eskimo hand augers, love my Nils hand auger (best hand augers I have ever owned) but love my 6Ē K Drill even more!
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Re: [americanforkdude] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
I'll throw my two cents in here. I use an Eskimo hand auger, cut like a dream the first year I used it. Probably about a dozen trips, I didn't treat it very well unfortunately. By the start of the second year, I noticed it was a lot more effort to cut through the ice and I could see visible dings on the blade. Looked into replacement blades, but figured I would give it a shot at sharpening it myself.

I picked up a sharpening block on amazon designed for kitchen knives. The Eskimo blades are a single bevel blade, so it really simplified the sharpening process. 15 mins of sharpening and my blades are ridiculous sharp. Cut my auger time from a couple minutes to 30 seconds.

Since, I've sharpened the blades, I've gone out about 2 dozen times and they are still as sharp as ever. As others have mention previously other blades might not be as easily sharpened due to their design, but I'm certain if I sharp the Eskimo blades at the end of each year, they'll last me a lifetime.
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Re: [Ramen4Breakfast] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
Thank you for the info. I have that same auger and noticed the same thing...can you tell me the name of the sharpening block you ordered?
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Re: [Jedidiah] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
The one I bought is from
I bought this more for my kitchen knives, so I was okay with the price tag. You could probably find a stone with similar grit for cheaper on Amazon as well.
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Re: [americanforkdude] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
I bought a nils 5 inch year before last it's an orange one. Comes with the drill plate already welded on and with a handle as well ,still cuts ice like hot butter I sold my 8 inch gas strike master and have never been sorry at all .
(This post was edited by icejunkie on Dec 6, 2019, 8:09 PM)
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Re: [americanforkdude] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
I have the Nils in 4, 6 & 8 inches. They're very quick to auger holes even in 30" of ice thickness. I use the 4" one a lot because it's just right for the camera and transducer for my MarCum LX-9 and faster to auger for a lot of exploratory holes to find structure and fish. They're so easy and quick to make holes, I choose not to bother with a power auger. I haven't needed to sharpen them yet. I'm very good at sharpening just about everything, so I'm sure I'll do well when I need to renew sharpness. My insights into toolmaking is why I went with Nils when I first saw their design.

Ronald :)

Let's go fishing! I prefer to fish with others. I'm well equipped with plenty to share and have a vehicle with amazing off road and winter driving capabilities to get us to even hard to reach fishing and ice fishing destinations. Let's team up! Private Message me to suggest I come to where you're fishing or plan a trip with me!

Who here is a surf fisherman? That's my next big vacation. I've already purchased top equipment for surf fishing. I'm looking to hire a guide or go with someone experienced.

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Re: [6x7] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
Thanks for all the responses. I didnt realize blades or cutting heads for the nils are so much money. I'm guessing someone good could sharpen the old ones. I saw strikemaster also sales a 5" auger, I may be interested in that. Choices choices!
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Re: [SkunkedAgain] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
I hand sharpen my Eskimo curved auger blades. It takes one try and you will have it down.
You will need a whetstone. I use a 400/1000 grit one I got off amazon for $14. I would recommend you get one specific for your auger blades.
Submerge the stone in water until the bubbles stop.
Do not sharpen the flat side of the blade. (Until I tell you to)
Place the angled side of the blade on the course grit stone and adjust until you have the correct angle. It is easy to find because auger blades have a steep cut angle.
Dull auger blades are hospital trip sharp. Donít be complacent with your finger placement. I personally enjoy my 5:1 finger to hand ratio so be careful.
Back and forth at this point adding a splash of water to the stone when needed.
You will be able to see the cutting edge improve or sharpen as you do this.
It takes me 3-5 minutes, thatís it.
Flip the stone to the fine grit.
Find the angle, check your finger placements, and repeat the back and forth sharpening technique until the full cutting edge has been sharpened.
Now, the flat side of the blade will have built up a tiny lip or ridge from sharpening the opposite, angled side.
This ridge has to be removed or the blades wonít cut ice. If remove more than the lip, you will create an angle on the flat side and the blades wonít cut and likely have to be replaced.
If the lip is very tiny, you can use a honing rod to remove it. I use the fine grit stone itís just as easy.
Place the flat side of the blade on the fine grit stone.
Gently go back and forth to remove the lip and that will finish the cutting edge.
Get this down, you wonít buy blades ever again. The auger cuts ice like it was out if the box new.
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Re: [filletedalive] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
I got my first nils 8" 10 years ago. At first I wasn't careful with it and dulled it. It would not cut butter, so I Sent it back east at a cost of around $50 with shipping. And then I seen an advertisement for the Work Sharp knife sharpener. It comes with the jigs for different knifes, however with no jig on it it gives you a great little belt that has different grits and it works good on my nils to get the edge back razor sharp.
I have a question about the 5" hole. I just bought the 6" nils combo hand drill. Is it hard to get big trout up through that 5" hole?
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Re: [americanforkdude] Let's talk hand augers In reply to
I have owned many ice augers over the years gas and hand, including the Nils.

Here is my take for what its worth.

Nils : Great Auger, Way over priced to begin with, you have to send the whole cutting head unit off to be re-sharpened, that cost you a pretty penny with shipping and all, i will give one to you for free if you like, sitting in my shed, i will never use it again.

Strikemaster gas Auger: i only pull this out, when the ice gets really thick, or i get lazy.
its been a good auger, but it is heavy, weight is important when your dragging it across a snow covered lake.

Strikemaster hand auger 8" or bigger: No bigger is not always better, when the blade gets semi dull, or the ice gets thicker, and you start puking after your first hole, thats a problem. kinda kills your motivation to move locations, which is key to locating where the fish are.

Strikemaster 6" or smaller: Now we are talking, lightweight, new blades are available and not overpriced, Strikemaster sales a blade re-sharperner for 8 bucks, You dont have to ship it across the united states to get it sharpened.
less energy expended, so your not hesitant to move. no gas, dead batteries, eco friendly Wink.
don't leave home with out it.

Hope this Helps, happy and safe Ice fishing to you
(This post was edited by fishnutts on Dec 7, 2019, 3:53 PM)