8 Best Scotch Eyed Augers for Bushcraft in 2024

Last Updated on 14/05/2024

best scotch eyed auger for bushcraft

Best Scotch Eyed Auger for Bushcraft

In this guide to the best scotch-eyed auger for bushcraft, we find out who makes them, what they are used for, and which is the best one to add to your tool kit. You will learn about the different sizes and why they are good for certain tasks as well as see a video of a scotch eye auger in action.

Scotch-eyed augers are a handy tool to keep around camp. In bushcraft and survival situations where you don’t have access to power, a hand drill like this can make things a lot easier. The feature of making your own handle means that if it ever breaks, you simply make a new one. Often times you can just pick a branch from the floor, break it down to a reasonable length, and use that for the T-handle.

There are lots of different hand drill options out there, but they are mostly designed for smaller drill bits. Scotch-eyed augers typically range from one to two inches in diameter and are designed to be used in hardwood and tree trunks. This makes them reliable and useful for lots of different tasks. Find out more about our recommendations below.

8 Best Wood Auger for Bushcraft


Black Raven Company Albatross Scotch Eyed Auger

Albatross - 2 x 8 inch Scotch Eye Wood Auger Drill Bit for Bushcraft and Camping | Hand Auger | for Bushcraft Backpack | Perfect Addition to Survival or Camping Gear Packs

  • LENGTH: 8 Inches
  • DIAMETER: 2 Inches
  • MATERIAL: Alloy Steel

The Albatross Auger from the Black Raven Company is arguably their best scotch-eyed auger for making wide holes of 2 inches. The reason it is so good is that it has the widest eyelet for sticking a lever through. The wide eyelet allows you to use a thick enough branch to create the power needed to get through some hardwoods.

While this wood auger is wide it is also quite short and so doesn’t create the deepest hole, but it is deep enough to get a dowel into. This is a bushcraft auger you don’t need to carry a separate bar around with as you can always find a branch that will fit through. The problem with some of their other hand drills is that the eyelet is too small that you can struggle to find a branch thin and strong enough.

VERDICT: The Black Raven Company Albatross Auger is a good companion for the smaller Hummingbird model below so that you can have one fat and one thin hole maker. Just like drill bits, augers are not indestructible, but this one has a lifetime guarantee, so if anything happens to it, you can get a free replacement.

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WEYLAND Survival Settlers Tool Bushcraft Hand Auger Wrench

WEYLAND Survival Settlers Tool Bushcraft Hand Auger Wrench - Bushcraft Gear and Equipment Scotch Eye Wood Drill Peg and Manual Hole Maker Multitool for Camping, Bushcrafting and Outdoor Backpacking.

  • LENGTH: 7 Inches
  • DIAMETER: 1 Inch
  • MATERIAL: High Carbon Steel

The WEYLAND Survival Settlers Tool is small but mighty and is made from high carbon steel for added strength and durability. You get a handy carry pouch to keep your auger safe as well as prevent it from damaging your backpack or other gear. The eyelet is tapered so that you can use it as a punch; however this should only be used to create a hole template.

There are some reports of the welds breaking, but this is a common issue with all augers as it is their weakest point. Leyland recommends you only drill softwoods and greenwood to avoid going into anything too hard. If you are careful, though, this drill should last a very long time which is what you need for bushcraft.

VERDICT: The WEYLAND Survival Settlers Tool is a handy bushcraft auger for building shelters, furniture, or general carpentry. You can give the punch tool a small whack with a camping hammer or mallet to leave a perfect circle where you need to drill and then quickly hollow out the hole with a lever. Definitely one for the bushcrafters who like a good carry case with their pocket tools.

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Black Raven Company Hummingbird Scotch Eyed Auger

Hummingbird - 5/16 x 8 inch Scotch Eye Wood Auger Drill Bit for Bushcraft and Camping | Hand Auger | for Bushcraft Backpack | Perfect Addition to Survival or Camping Gear Packs

  • LENGTH: 8 Inches
  • DIAMETER: 5/16 Inch
  • MATERIAL: Alloy Steel

The Black Raven Company Hummingbird scotch-eyed auger is half the length of their Sasquatch auger and much thinner but uses the same size eyelet. This size scotch eye hole makes much more sense for the size of the drill bit and means you won’t have much trouble finding a stick to provide enough strength to be the lever.

This thinner bushcraft auger is ideal for making lanyard holes in wooden objects you have crafted. There are lots of times when a thinner auger comes in handy, and it doesn’t weigh very much at all. It is also one of the least damaging augers to use when tapping a tree for its sap because of its small diameter.

The 8 mm diameter is ideal for making smaller holes and can be easily used with strong branches you find on the ground or cut from fresh. The spur on the tip struggles to screw in, so if you can, give it a tap so the drill edge can begin to bite into the wood.

VERDICT: The Hummingbird Auger from the Black Raven Company is as close to a pocket bush drill as you can get. It makes the perfect-sized hole to fit some paracord through, which means you can add lanyards to anything made from wood. We really like this auger, especially for tapping trees, as it feels far less damaging than a wider auger.

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Bushcraft Survival Scotch Eye Auger

Bushcraft Survival 1 Inch Scotch Eye Auger | Manual Hand Wood Auger Drill Bit for Camping & Shelter Building | Heavy Duty Steel Bushcrafting Tools & Backcountry Gear

  • LENGTH: 10.3 Inches
  • DIAMETER: 1.5 Inches
  • EYELET: 1.1 Inches
  • MATERIAL: Hardened Oxidized Steel

The Bushcraft Survival Scotch Eye Auger is described as being aggressively sharp, which is a fair comment. The edges of the drill have been precision-milled at the perfect angle to bite into and remove a perfect plug of wood. The tip is ridged so that it grips to the exact point where you want your hole until you are ready to drill.

The eyelet has been hand welded to the drill bit for heavy-duty use, but it doesn’t look any more robust than the others. We do wish the eyelet was a little bit bigger to fit stronger pieces of wood, so packing a screwdriver or similar small metal rod is always a good idea. That being said, if the wood is soft enough, you can often use the drill with your bare hands without any levers.

VERDICT: The Scotch Eye Survival Auger made by Bushcraft Survival is an excellent tool to add to your kit and comes in handy more than you will ever know. You can get it in two sizes, the 1-inch and the 1.5 inches, which both do the job well and make the process of drilling and hole making so much easier when camping or in the woods.

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Black Raven Company Sasquatch Scotch Eyed Auger

Sasquatch - 1.5 x 16 inch Scotch Eye Wood Auger Drill Bit For Bushcraft and Camping | Hand Auger | For Bushcraft Backpack | Perfect Addition To Survival or Camping Gear Packs

  • LENGTH: 16 Inches
  • DIAMETER: 1.5 Inches
  • MATERIAL: Alloy Steel

The Black Raven Company Sasquatch Scotch Eyed Auger is one of the longest bushcraft augers out there. At 16 inches long, you can often make it through entire tree trunks if you need to. The 1.5-inch diameter drill bit creates a neat hole with a clean edge so that you can easily remove it once the hole is done.

This auger is great for punching holes through felled trees so that you can put a rope through and drag it back to camp. You can also use it to create some bushcraft furniture or when building shelters; however, if you don’t need to make deep holes, then a shorter scotch-eyed auger should be sufficient.

The eye hole is pretty small, which means you will need some kind of bar to use as the lever or some strong wood. This is a little annoying as it can be hard to find a branch small enough that you can apply any real force without it bending and snapping.

Because it is so long, it may need its own storage pouch if keeping it in a backpack. However, some people just use a cardboard tube.

VERDICT: The Sasquatch Hand Drill from Black Raven Co is the longest bushcraft auger out there, and so for deep holes, it is your best option. We wish the eye hole was a little wider (a lot wider), but if you keep a screwdriver or something with it, then you’ll never need to find a branch small and strong enough to fit through.

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VASGOR 1” x 10” Scotch Eye Wood Auger Drill Bit

VASGOR 1” x 10” Scotch Eye Wood Auger Drill Bit - Hand Auger for Bushcraft Backpack and Camping - Perfect Addition Tool to Survival and Camping Gear Packs

  • LENGTH: 10 Inches
  • DIAMETER: 1 Inch
  • MATERIAL: Alloy Steel

The VASGOR 1” x 10” Scotch Eye Wood Auger Drill Bit is a great size for tapping trees for sap with a slightly larger hole. The 1-inch diameter is big enough to fit a small tap and also seal up with a peg once you have harvested enough sap. You can use this on maple trees or birch trees and have a pot full of sap over the course of 24 hours.

The design, shape, and spacing of the teeth are very similar to the CRIZTA Bushcraft Auger (below), just with a slightly shorter length and exactly half the diameter. You can still use this auger for shelter building etc, but you do not get the same load-bearing qualities using thinner dowels.

The tester we asked about this drill bit said that they actually use a tent peg as a lever to turn the drill bit. What a good idea.

VERDICT: The VASGOR Scotch Eye Wood Auger is a great tool for harvesting sap when foraging or for small construction jobs. It can create a 1-inch diameter hole about 8 inches deep and makes light work of soft and greenwood with its razor-sharp edges. This is definitely a scotch-eyed auger we recommend. We just wish the eyelet hole was bigger.

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CRIZTA 2” x 12” Scotch Eye Wood Auger Drill Bit

CRIZTA 2” x 12” Scotch Eye Wood Auger Drill Bit - Hand Auger for Bushcraft Backpack and Camping - Perfect Addition Tool to Survival and Camping Gear Packs

  • LENGTH: 12 Inches
  • DIAMETER: 2 Inches
  • MATERIAL: Alloy Steel

The CRIZTA 2” x 12” Scotch Eye Wood Auger Drill Bit is 4 Inches longer than the Black Raven Co Albatross Auger at the top and so is great for making a deep and wide hole in wood. It is one of the heavier options to pack in your backpack due to its size but feels strong and well-made.

The total length is 12 inches, but the drill bit is only about 7-8 inches long. You can still drill down to about 10 inches deep, which is enough to get through most small tree trunks.

You can start off by giving the drill a tap to get the center point to dig in a little. Then you need to insert your lever and start to rotate the auger while slowly pressing down until the teeth bite into the wood.

VERDICT: The CRIZTA 2” x 12” Scotch Eye Wood Auger is ideal for shelter building, as the wide drill bit creates a hole that is big enough to insert a pole into. You can essentially use this hand drill to build things without nails if you carve out a peg that will slot into the hole. The quality is as good as all the others in this guide, and there are lots of positive reviews confirming this.

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Woodowl BCH-Set 6-Piece Bushcraft Survival Auger Kit with T-Handle

Woodowl BCH-Set 6-Piece Bushcraft Survival Auger Kit with T-Handle and 5 Auger Bits in Tool Roll

  • LENGTH: 8 Inches
  • DIAMETER: 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4 and 1 Inch
  • MATERIAL: Japanese Carbon Steel, Hardwood Handle

The WoodOwl BCH-Set 6-Piece Bushcraft Survival Auger Kit with T-Handle comes complete with five drill bits, T-handle with hex cradle, and a handy carry case that rolls up. This is one of the best bushcraft auger kits for creating different-sized holes in wood while out in the wild. The choice of dimensions allows you to always find the right-sized auger for the job.

The hex adapter is made of solid brass so that it doesn’t ever rust and will accept both 1/4 inch and 5/16 inch hex shanks to work with multiple drill bit types. To loosen the grip and release a drill bit, simply unscrew the stainless steel knob, and the bit will drop out.

The five-auger set is made from high-quality Japanese steel and features a single flute, single cutting head, and single spur. This makes boring holes much easier and faster and expends less effort if you keep them sharp enough.

VERDICT: The WoodOwl BCH-Set 6-Piece Bushcraft Survival Auger Kit goes beyond having just one scotch-eyed auger and allows you to choose different-sized holes. This is great when tapping trees for sap, as it means you can match the hole size to the size of the tree or branch. If you like whittling and creating bushcraft tools out of wood, then this set is an excellent addition to your toolbox.

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bushcraft auger with scotch drill bit

What Is a Scotch-Eyed Auger?

A Scotch-eyed auger is a type of hand drill that is used to bore holes into hardwood. It will typically have a ring welded on top to place a lever through to create a T-handle. They are used by bushcrafters and outdoors people to drill holes where there isn’t any power to power an electric drill.

The idea is that you don’t always have to carry a lever with you and instead can use some wood picked up off the ground or quickly craft one to fit. This both saves weight and reduces the chances of damage beyond repair.

Why Is It Called a Scotch-Eyed Auger?

A scotch-eyed auger’s name is taken from the drill bit pattern, which is scotch, and the fact that it has an eye at the top to insert a lever. The eyelet on a T-handle auger was NOT developed in Scotland (as far as we know), and it is unknown who started calling it a scotch eye auger. This type of hand drill is also known as a “Settlers Wrench” or “Bushcraft Drill”. If you are feeling fancy, you can call it by its full name, a scotch barrel-eyed auger.

What Are Scotch-Eyed Augers Used for?

Scotch-eyed augers are used for bushcraft to create and build things as well as for tapping trees for their sap. They make great gifts for bushcrafters and are a handy tool to have in your arsenal. Here is a list of things bushcrafter augers are used for:

  • Attachment loops
  • Dowel peg holes
  • Camp Furniture
  • Shelter building
  • Crafting wooden utensils
  • Hollowing out thin branches
  • Getting dry tinder in a wet environment
  • DIY rocket stove

Bushcraft Survival Tool,Auger Drill Bit,Scotch Eye Wood Auger,Hand Auger Wrench,Wood Drill Peg and Manual Hole Maker Multitool for Camping, Survivalist, Hikers,Bushcrafting and Outdoor Backpacking

Guide To the Best Bushcraft Augers

When looking for a wood auger for bushcraft, you want something you can rely on. Honestly, the best augers were made decades ago, and so the only place to find them is yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores, and online marketplaces like eBay or craigslist. They are, however, few and far between. Here is our scotch-eyed auger guide on what to look for:

Width

The width of the drill bit is perhaps the most important feature of a scotch-eyed auger as it determines the size hole you can make. If you have a specific task in mind, then you can select the width to suit, but if you don’t, then maybe aim somewhere between 1 and 2 inches.

Thinner scotch augers are good for tapping tree sap as they are theoretically less damaging to the tree. They are good for detailed work and for making lanyard lashing holes.

Thicker scotch augers with eyelets are better for furniture and shelter building as the wider holes allow thicker, sturdier pegs to be inserted. If instead of paracord, you want to make an attachment loop for a rope to fit through, then a thicker auger width makes sense.

Length

The length of the auger matters for two reasons. The first is that longer augers drill deeper holes, and the second is that longer augers are less packable into a backpack. So you want an auger with a scotch drill bit and eyelet that is long enough for the holes you want to make and not much longer.

Longer bushcraft augers provide better leverage and mean you don’t have to crouch down to drill a log. But this added length and leverage can mean that you put any welds under tremendous pressure, which can result in damage. The good news is that longer augers typically have a little bit more flex and forgiveness.

Shorter bushcraft augers are much easier to pack and carry around and will often be enough for most tasks. You don’t get as much flex with a short drill shaft which means that you can apply more power, but the overall structure will be more brittle.

Weight

The weight of your auger will be directly impacted by both the length and width of your drill bit. Weight is only really an issue if you plan to move around a lot carrying all of your gear. If you plan to keep your auger in one place, then weight doesn’t matter so much.

The average weight of a 12-inch bushcraft auger was just under 1 pound or around 14 ounces (410 grams). It was hard to find the individual weights of the augers we recommend without actually getting the kitchen scales out, so we didn’t include this specification in the bullet points.

Storage

Scotch eye augers are sharp and pointy which is great for drilling wood but not so great for carrying around in a backpack. Ideally, you should store your augers in some kind of protective casing. This might be a pouch or roll, or it might be some kind of box.

Some bushcraft augers come with a storage pouch included, but these are often a bit flimsy in my opinion. You are better off making your own or finding something suitable to use after you have your auger. Some thick canvas or leather hide wrapped around the drill bit is our preferred way of storing our auger until it gets used.

You should also treat your auger drill with oil to prevent rust whilst in storage.

Durability

The durability of augers seems to have degraded over the years. Where in the past, drill bits may have been forged from one complete piece, nowadays, they are made by welding two pieces together. Of all the times I have seen or heard about a snapped auger, it is where the eyelet is welded onto the shaft.

While welds should be strong enough to withstand more force than human arms can produce, it becomes a stress point that can be weakened over time until, eventually, it can’t hold anymore. This is why we recommend getting a vintage auger wherever possible, as they are far more durable.

What Size Scotch Eyed Auger Do You Need?

Before you order your auger, you need to have some idea of the type of hole you want to make and why. I bought my first auger when I was tapping birch trees for their sap in spring, so I wanted something quite thin and short. But when I wanted to use that for shelter building, it was too small.

For anything structural like furniture or shelter building, I would recommend a wider auger for bigger holes. For more detailed bush craftwork, a finer drill bit will produce better results.

  • 1/2 inch or below for specific bushcraft skills
  • 1 Inch and below for detailed crafting
  • 1 – 2 inches for more structural work
  • 2 Inches and up for anything else

How To Use A Scotch Eyed Auger

The best way to use a scotch-eyed auger is to give it a good tap into the wood before you start drilling. This will give you some initial traction for the drill pattern to bite into the wood.

Once you have started to remove wood and drill down, it is important to keep the shaft as straight and balanced as possible. Focus more on keeping the shaft straight than the hole itself, and it will take care of itself.

Remove the auger and sawdust regularly to check the progress and get a visual of the depth. If the hole is left rough after you have finished drilling, then simply go in and out a few more times while rotating to remove the loose material.

Here is a video to show you how to use a scotch-eyed auger to make a wooden rocket stove (using a homemade cradle):

 

We hope this guide to the best scotch-eyed auger for bushcraft has helped you find what you were looking for.

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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