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Homemade Water Well Digging Tools

Jessica Kolifrath

Most homeowners who rely on well water instead of a municipal water supply have their wells dug professionally. Well-digging companies use large, dangerous augers and drills that homeowners have no access to. If you would like to dig your own homemade water well, there are a few basic tools you can use.

Small Auger

The large, truck-mounted augers and drills used by professional well-drilling operations are not available for use by homeowners to make small homemade wells, but less powerful versions can be found. Hand-operated augers, where two people turn cranks or handles to drill into the soil, are small and safe enough for use by anyone, according to a 1990 technical paper by Volunteers in Technical Assistance. Mechanical augers will only cut through loose, sandy or soft soil, and can't penetrate rocks or compacted layers of clay and dirt. However, augers and similar percussion devices can make a well 50 feet deep, at which depth a hand-dug well would be in danger of collapsing.

Shovel and Pick

The oldest way of creating a well to access cleaner ground water is to dig it by hand with a shovel and pick, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Any pit dug below the water table line will eventually fill to that line with water that has been filtered through soil, reducing the amount of bacteria and other contaminants that might be present in surface water. A shovel or spade is the most basic tool used for digging a homemade water well, and a pick is helpful for breaking rocks or hard soil. Digging a well by hand can put you at serious risk for injury or death from collapse if the well becomes deeper than 10 feet and isn't supported by metal, wooden or concrete frames.


A simple tripod built from three pieces of equal-length lumber can make your well-digging work much easier and more efficient, no matter what method you use, according to the USGS. When fitted with a pulley and rope, the tripod can be used to safely lower and raise things from the well pit. Hand-digging is easier when a bucket can be quickly raised and emptied using a tripod. Small augers and percussive drills require a tripod for support. If concrete forms or stone are lowered for finishing the walls of the well, use of a tripod can help prevent dropping the materials onto the worker below.

Drive Point

Constructed from PVC pipe, metal mesh and a cone-shaped point, a drive point creates a small-diameter well that can safely reach much deeper than a hand-dug well. Homeowners can build their own tubes, according to Water Well Helpline, but the drive points should be purchased. A starter hole is dug with a post-hole digger or a shovel, then the drive point is lifted and slammed into the ground repeatedly. A sledge hammer or drive point hammering device is used to drive it in farther. New sections of PVC are added until the drive point is at least two or three feet below the water-table line.