Let’s talk about some equipment maintenance.
One thing you always want to pay attention to with your ice auger, whether it is a gas auger or hand auger, is that the blades need to be sharp. Keeping your blades sharp is the best thing you can do to ensure fast and easy cutting on the ice. There are a few different ways to accomplish this that we’ll talk about.
First and foremost is prevention.
To minimize the amount of wear and tear your blades take on, some preventative measures can go a long way. It is important to avoid punching holes on dirty ice. This means staying away from areas that may have accumulated sand and grit from heavy traffic.
Avoid banging the auger on the ice as well. When you’re drilling holes, just let the auger do the work. You may get through the ice a bit quicker by banging it down on the ice but it isn’t a good idea in the long run.
Finally, when you transport your auger, take care to secure it well so that the blades are not banging around against your truck bed, other equipment in your sled, etc. While a little clanking around may not seem like a big deal, as those little nicks and dings over time will take their toll on your trusty ice auger. Keep the entire auger secured and keep the blades covered. If your auger did not come with a blade cover, you can pick up one like this and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Guys, these are simple things and in general, just good habits to get in – avoid dirty ice, don’t abuse your auger when drilling holes, and protect the blades during transport.
So when it is appropriate to sharpen your blades?
Well if you notice that you are having the push down a bit to get through the ice or it’s taking much longer than it usually takes you to punch a hole, your blades are probably getting dull. Mild dulling may not be readily apparent on visual inspection, but you should always inspect your blades because sometimes there are bigger issues like chipped or broken blades that need to be addressed.
Feel the blade as well. If you feel a “roll over” on the blade then that is another sign that the blade is getting worn. This just means that you will feel a sloping down towards the edge of the blade.
So you’ve determined that your blades need to be sharpened.
Now you can remove the blades and send them back to the company you bought the auger from, but this can get expensive from season to season. As an alternative, you can purchase a hand auger sharpener. They are relatively inexpensive but can pay off big time in protecting your investment. All you do is hold it, with the guard between you and the auger, and run the sharpener tip from the inside out. Perform two to three repetitions per blade.
Sometimes doing this will create some slight burrs, so you should repeat the process in the reverse direction as well. This is an easy thing you can do in the offseason and will greatly increase your efficiency in the future, especially if you are using a hand auger.
And if your blades are beyond saving, well then you should look into just replacing the blades instead.