DIY Well Drilling: How to Hand Drill a Well in 10 Steps

If you own a piece of land, sooner or later you will need to find a way to access the water supply that lies below it. With professional installing a well costing at least several thousand dollars, it’s no wonder many landowners opt for DIY well drilling. And it is possible, too – if you have the right knowledge, the right skills, and the right tools. If you are new to well drilling, this guide is just the thing for you. In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about hand drilling a well in 10 simple steps. Read on to learn how to turn your amateur DIY skills into professional-level well drilling results!

Quick Insight into Key Points

The process of hand drilling a well requires the use of specialized equipment and techniques. It is recommended that you hire an experienced professional who can ensure it is done safely and properly.

What Materials are Needed to Hand Drill a Well?

Drilling a well by hand is possible, and depending on the circumstance, potentially quite successful. Drilling a well in this manner does require special materials in order to have a proper outcome. There are several items needed for anyone looking to hand drill a well, and understanding what all of these items are is essential.

The primary piece of equipment required for DIY hand drilling is an auger. An auger consists of two blades – usually with some sort of flighting or helical cutting around the outside – that twists into the ground until it reaches water. It’s designed to penetrate through the soil while creating cavities as it goes, which then allow water to funnel into the well once it has been drilled. Augers are available in various sizes and come either manually operated or motorized, with each featuring its own pros and cons.

In addition to an auger, one will also need a drill bit that fits the auger shaft and can be exchanged if the existing bit becomes too worn out or gets stuck in the ground. Drill bits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from saw-toothed edged twist drills to diamond-embedded core samples, depending on what type of material one needs to cut through. The wrong type or size could potentially cause irreparable damage not only to the drill bit itself but also to the well hole it has created. Care should be taken when purchasing a drill bit for DIY hand drilling projects.

One will also need a hoses and heavy duty gloves for manual hand drilling. Hoses help move dirt away from where you’re drilling while keeping the water at bay so that nothing gets clogged up during the process. Heavy duty gloves are also important to protect hands from any dust or dirt that can accumulate while drilling along with potential falls into jagged rock formations during excavation work.

Finally, it’s always good practice to have access to some basic plumbing supplies such as sealants, fasteners, pipes, fittings etc., in case something breaks during drilling or post-installation setup. Although they may not necessarily be needed during the actual drill portion of this job, having them ready before starting could save some time later on down the road once everything else is said and done.

Now that we have discussed the necessary materials needed for DIY hand drilling a well, let’s talk about how an Auger and Drill Bit can assist in this process in the following section.

Auger and Drill Bit

Drill bits and augers are two of the most important components of DIY well drilling. A drill bit is essentially a cylindrical tool that is used to bore holes into the substrate. This can be made from a variety of materials such as steel, carbide or tungsten-carbide. Ultimately, the material chosen should be based on the type of soil and further drilling conditions. Augers are also integral to DIY well drilling because they are used to dig down into the substrate until a water source is found. The most common type of auger used is a post hole digger, which consists of two blades attached to an extension handle; however, other kinds may be necessary depending on the conditions.

When deciding what drill bit or auger to use, it’s important to consider cost, performance and durability. On one hand, cheaper options like traditional steel bits may be sufficient for initial soil boring if the substrates are relatively soft. On the other hand, more expensive varieties such as tungsten-carbide or coil drill bits might be necessary if there’s hard materials, clay or boulders in the way. As for augers, lighter models are typically sufficient for softer soils; however, heavier-duty types are necessary for harder ground because they have increased torque for more efficient digging.

Overall, it’s essential to select the best drill bit and auger for your individual circumstances during any DIY well drilling project as this will deliver superior performance with greater efficiency and longevity. In the next section we’ll discuss using a shovel as an alternative method for digging into substrates for water sources during DIY well drilling.

  • Hand-drilled wells can typically reach depths of up to 75 feet.
  • The success rate of a hand-drilled well increases with depth, although the total cost also increases with greater drilled depths.
  • According to the World Health Organization, in some regions of the world, half of all shallow or hand dug wells fail within 3 years due to improper construction or lack of maintenance.


When digging a hand drilled well, one of the most important tools is the shovel. A shovel will be used for digging the necessary trench around the drilling site and for moving dirt away from the drill pipe as you make progress downward. Fortunately, the traditional long handled, broad bladed spade-style shovel is readily available in most hardware stores and garden supply centers.

Quality is key here; invest into a sturdy 30-inch steel blade with solid construction as it will need to bear up to hard ground conditions. When using a shovel, wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and boots as sharp debris can fly during excavation which can pose a safety risk.

It’s worth debating both sides of this argument in considering whether or not to use a shovel when drilling a well by hand: On one hand, using a shovel may seem labor intensive and time consuming; however, hand digging presents many advantages. Perhaps the greatest advantage comes in that it can provide better control of the hole profile during drilling versus more costly power driven methods where it is very difficult to make corrections once started. Additionally, an excavated well eliminates potential overexertion of water resources and unexpected dangers that come with power driven methods such as hydrogeological issues or property damage.

Shovels are also a great choice from both cost efficiency and environmental standpoints, considering less fuel consumption means lower costs and fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere. All in all, it’s ideal to select and properly use the right equipment for your DIY well driller project and understanding both sides of the debate around using a shovel helps individuals make the best decision for their unique situations.

Now that it is clear how important having the right tools on hand when hand drilling your own well is, let us move on to describe in detail just what steps you need to take to begin your project – starting with gathering supplies – in our next section detailing ‘Steps to Begin Hand Drilling’.

Must-Know Points

When drilling a hand drilled well, one of the most important tools needed is a shovel. It should have a sturdy 30-inch steel blade for hard ground conditions and protective gear like gloves, goggles and boots should be used. Digging can be time consuming but provides better control and eliminates potential overexertion of water resources or property damage. Shovels are cost efficient and can reduce fuel consumption lowering costs and emissions into the atmosphere. Understanding both sides of using a shovel will help individuals make the best decision before beginning their project.

Steps to Begin Hand Drilling

When undertaking the hand drilling process, the first step is to begin to prepare yourself and your equipment. It is easy to forget that DIY well drilling requires significant physical effort and stamina, so being in good physical condition should be a prerequisite before beginning. For those who may need additional support during the process, having an additional pair of hands on deck can be extremely helpful. Furthermore, the right set of tools and materials are required to ensure the job is done correctly.

Maintaining safety while well drilling is of utmost importance. Begin by gathering ear protection, gloves and a quality face shield. Wear protective work clothing such as long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, work boots and knee pads or kneepads. You will also need a cordless drill with a bit that is sized for your well bore as well as pipe wrenches to hold pipes together when necessary.

Once you have gathered all the appropriate safety gear, materials and tools, it’s time to locate your site and measure the depth. The next section will provide detail on these steps.

Locate a Well Site and Measure the Depth

Finding the appropriate spot for your DIY well can be a tricky and time-consuming process. It is important to know that the location and depth of your homemade well are strongly affected by local water tables and other geological features of the land. It is best to look for areas with a high water table, as washing away soil or sediment can make it difficult to find a stable source of producing water. Before beginning the drilling process, it is essential to measure the depth at which you intend to drill and ensure that it is within your reach.

The most common way to locate an appropriate well site and measure its intended depth is to use a percussive sounding device, such as a soil boring bar or drive point sampler. These tools use an auger or percussion screws to penetrate through the ground until they hit bedrock or groundwater. After the measurement has been taken, you should also note any changes in soil color or texture along the way, which may indicate clay pockets, bands of sand, pockets of sandstone—all useful information for determining if your spot is suitable for drilling a well.

An alternative method used to determine where and how deep to drill a homemade well is hand-driven probing and puddling. To do this, you must carefully dig trenches into the soil and take careful measurements throughout the process using measuring tapes and probes. Once these trenches have reached required depths, they should be filled with clean water to check for any visible water flows in the area. This method can give you an indication as to whether or not your chosen site has adequate groundwater sources available and will help you decide how deep you need to bore before striking a pocket of possible drinking water.

Before moving on to boring through the ground at the chosen location, it is important that you remain mindful of local laws when selecting your well site. Always take time to research city regulations regarding digging and boring before starting any digging project. Finally, it is advisable to get advice from experienced professionals whenever possible before making any decisions on where and how deep your homemade well should go.

Now that you have located an appropriate well site and measured its intended depth, it’s time to move onto boring through the ground in order to access that potential source of life-sustaining fresh water.

Boring Through the Ground

Drilling a well requires that you create a hole in the ground to access an aquifer. Boring through the ground can be a challenging process and involves different techniques depending on the type of soil you are dealing with. If you are drilling soft rock and sand, rotary augers may be used. This involves spinning a drill bit at high speeds while pumping water through it to create a vertical hole. Another option for soft soils is hand augers, which involve using several specially-designed tools to dig vertical boreholes.

When working with harder soils or bedrock, households often turn to percussion drilling techniques. This involves using a device called a jackhammer (or drifter) that makes use of hydraulic forces to drive rods down into the ground and break it apart. When drilling through hard surfaces, it’s important to monitor the progress of the drill by taking regular core samples so that you know when you have reached the desired depth.

It is also wise to note that depending on where one lives and local regulations, there may be limitations on how deep one can drill or what types of drilling methods can be used. Be sure to check your area’s regulations before starting your project.

Regardless of which method is chosen, boring through the ground is an important step in DIY well drilling because it gives homeowners access to underground aquifers and allows them to collect water from those sources. Now that the groundwork has been laid (pun intended), we can move on to digging and auguring – two more steps in DIY well drilling!

Digging and Auguring

Digging and Auguring is the process of creating a hole for your well. This is the most physically demanding part of the DIY well drilling project, and requires certain safety considerations in order to prevent injury.

Traditional methods include using tools such as hand augers or post hole diggers. A hand auger has a long handle that provides leverage needed to drive the auger into the ground. Post hole diggers are typically two shovel-shaped scoop blades connected by a center handle. The blades cut through loose soil for larger holes. Both these tools are useful for digging out mud and debris and reaching depths up to eight feet in most soils.

Some experienced DIYers have found success with motorized power drills that effectively drive through deep soils or hard clay up to 40 feet deep. They argue that this greatly reduces labor and time invested in their project. Meanwhile, proponents of manual digging and augering promote its simplicity and reliability as well as safety benefits due to lack of motorization. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and willingness to invest additional capital into motorized power drills if desired.

With digging and auguring complete, you have taken an important step towards creating your well. In the next section, we will discuss Pumping your Well in order to gain access to clean water underneath the ground.

Pump your Well

Pumping your Well

Once you have successfully drilled through the bedrock, you are ready to start pumping the well. The first step is to attach the water pump to the base of the well and then connect electrical power or a fuel source. You should also attach a hose that leads to an adjacent container or directly to a water system in your home. Once everything is connected properly, it is time to turn on the pump and let it draw up the water from deep below.

When deciding which type of water pump is best for your well, there are many factors to consider. Some prefer electric pumps as they are easier to install and remove than diesel-powered models. They cost less too, since you don’t need additional costs such as fuel and oil changes. On the other hand, diesel-powered pumps can provide a much higher pressure for pumping out water from deep aquifers, and can run for longer periods of time without needing regular maintenance or refueling.

No matter which type of pump you choose for your DIY well drilling project, make sure that it is compatible with the size of your well and can handle the amount of water being pumped from below. Also be sure that you read all instructions carefully before attempting any complicated repairs or adjustments by yourself.

Now that your well is successfully pumping up water, it’s important to ensure that not only is it drawing clean and safe water but also that it stays in top condition throughout its life cycle. The next section will discuss how to keep your newly installed DIY well clean.

Keeping your Well Clean

It is essential to maintain proper hygiene around your well to protect its water from any harmful contaminants. The first step in doing so is keeping the area around the well clean of debris, weeds, and ground cover. This ensures that there are no objects near the well that can come into contact with the water supply, such as leaking fuel or chemicals. Additionally, make sure that anyone who visits your well wears protective footwear such as rubber boots and gloves to avoid bringing any dirt or contaminants into the area.

For those living in an agricultural community, using buffer strips and vegetative covers can be effective in preventing irrigation runoff from entering and contaminating the water supply. These practices can also help keep wild animals away from the well and prevent them from defecating nearby.

Finally, it’s important to properly check and maintain your well for any potential issues, including performing regular tests on water samples taken from the well. Tests should check for things like nitrates and bacteria which can lead to serious illnesses if not managed properly. If any contaminations are found, you may need to chlorinate your water supply or perform reverse osmosis to remove impurities.

As a last line of defense against harmful debris entering your well, it is important to install a filter system in order to ensure safe drinking water for your family and guests. This filter should be checked regularly to make sure it is functioning properly.

Given all of these steps, it is easy to see why keeping your well clean is critical in ensuring it remains a safe source of drinking water for you and all those who you invite over to share its use.

In conclusion, taking care of your well means more than just drilling – it involves a lot of routine maintenance that must be done on a regular basis in order to guarantee safe drinking water free from any contaminants. In the next section, we will discuss how to finish off the job after you have installed your own hand-drilled well.


Although hand drilling wells is typically cheaper than more complex methods, as mentioned there are also possibilities of expensive and dangerous consequences. Therefore, DIY well drilling must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you have the right safety measures in place, knowledgable professionals available to consult you and access to appropriate equipment; you may have success in hand drilling your own well. On the other hand, if you lack the required safety protocols, do not have any experts available to assist and don’t own appropriate equipment; then this process may end up costing you more money than expected.

In conclusion, DIY well drilling has the potential to result in cost savings but should only be undertaken by those willing to take all necessary safety precautions (including consulting an expert) and with access to reliable equipment. If these conditions can be met, property owners may be able to find an effective and economical solution for their water needs.

Common Questions and Answers

What tools and materials do I need to hand drill a well?

In order to hand drill a well, you will need the following tools and materials:

1. A drilling rig or well drill – This is the most important tool for drilling your own well, as it provides the means to actually create and maintain the well. Make sure that you choose one that has a variable speed setting, adjustable depth and wide range of drilling bits for different soil types.

2. Drill pipe – These are used to join the drill bit to the drill head, as well as provide the necessary leverage for drilling into harder surfaces.

3. Drilling fluid or mud – This is necessary in order to lubricate the drill bit, reduce friction and ensure that the hole stays open while you’re drilling.

4. Safety equipment – Protective gear such as gloves, eyewear, hardhats and steel-toed boots should be worn while working with any dangerous tools or drills.

5. Access to an adequate water source – In order to successfully complete your DIY well project, you need access to an adequate and reliable water source. You will also need to confirm whether the area where you will be drilling isn’t subject to any local regulations or restrictions before beginning work on your project.

What safety precautions should I take when hand drilling a well?

When hand drilling a well, it is important to take safety precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.

Firstly, you should always wear appropriate protective gear, such as long trousers, steel-toed boots, eye protection, gloves and a hard hat. This will help to protect you from any potential risks associated with drilling, such as exposure to harmful chemicals or debris being kicked up by the drill bit.

It is also important to be aware of your surroundings when drilling, ensuring that bystanders are kept clear of the area. Additionally, you should check for nearby gas pipelines or any other potential hazards before you begin drilling.

Finally, it is advisable to make sure that the area in which you are drilling is ventilated properly. This is especially important if you are using hazardous materials or components during the process that could potentially create toxic fumes.

In summary, when hand drilling a well it is essential to take necessary safety precautions in order to protect yourself and those nearby. Be sure to wear protective gear, keep bystanders at a safe distance and check the area for any potential dangers before beginning the process. Additionally, make sure the area is adequately ventilated if working with hazardous materials or components.

What techniques should I use to ensure the well is properly constructed?

When drilling a well, there are several key techniques you should use to ensure the well is properly constructed. The first is to take proper safety precautions. Wear protective gear such as goggles, gloves, and a dust mask, and ensure that all electrical equipment is grounded and tested before you start working.

The second technique is to choose an appropriate site for your well. Select a site with good soil quality, adequate depth and distance from potential sources of contamination. Take your time in finding the right spot.

Thirdly, investigate local regulations about well construction in your area. Follow these regulations as you drill and make sure all paperwork is filled out as required by local authorities.

Fourthly, use the correct tools for the job. Make sure your drilling rig and bits are suitable for the type of ground you’re drilling through and that your lines and hoses have enough length for the depth of your well.

Finally, it’s important to be patient when drilling a well. Hand-drilling can take considerably longer than machine-drilling and has a much lower success rate if not done properly. Take your time and follow the steps outlined in this book carefully – this will help ensure that you successfully drill a proper well.

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