Hand auger - Vonder rig

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Vonder rig in action

The Vonder rig is a hand auger method method that uses a heavy tripod, a winch, and a working table. It has been used extensively in Zimbabwe and distributed widely in sub-Saharan Africa. The cutting tool (auger head) is rotated to cut into the ground, and then withdrawn to remove excavated material. This is repeated until the required depth is reached.

The Vonder rig was developed in the early 80's and is manufactured in Zimbabwe.

Suitable conditions

The Vonder rig is suitable for unconsolidated formations: sand, silt and soft clay. Stiff clays, hard materials and gravels are difficult or impossible to drill through and to remove (unless augering is combined with percussion).

Advantages Disadvantages
- Vonder rig ensures a straight borehole
- Tools for vonder rig are more expensive than conventional hand augering tools

- Slow compared with other methods

Construction, operations and maintenance

Diagram of a vonder rig. Credit: WEDC.

The Vonder rig makes use of a tripod and working table and is therefore more expensive than the conventional augering tools. However, use of the worktable and tripod ensure a straight borehole.

Equipment is commercially produced by V&W engineering in Zimbabwe. Local production is possible.


Work table and auger bit.
  • V&W Engineering Ltd, Zimbabwe (49 Leyland Road, P.O.Box 131,Harare). - Produces the Vonder rig.
  • Van Reekum Materials, Netherlands - Drilling equipment, hand auger and percussion drilling
  • Eijkelkamp Agrisearch Equipment, Netherlands - Drilling equipment and manuals on hand auger and percussion gouges.

Field experiences

The vonder rig is widely used in Malawi, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Manuals, videos and links

  • CARTER, R. C. (2005) Human-Powered Drilling Technologies. an overview of human-powered drilling technologies for shallow small diameter well construction, for domestic and agricultural water supply , Silsoe College , Cranfield University , Bedfordshire, UK Download
  • 'Private Sector Participation in Low Cost Water Well Drilling', Cranfield University, 2001. Article on private sector participation in low cost water well drilling in Africa. Download.
  • Rural Water Supply Network - Useful network and website for information and downloads related to Rural Water Technologies - Hand drilled wells. General website.
  • Drilling Boreholes for Hand pumps, Peter Wurzel, Skat, Switzerland, 2001 - A book on hydrogeology, well construction, drilling techniques, well development - Download. Website of SKAT
  • Low-cost shallow tube well construction in West Africa, M. Sonau, FAO - An overview of shallow tube well drilling techniques - website. Website of FAO documents.
  • A Water Handbook, Technical Guidelines Series, UNICEF, 1999 - Programming and implementation. Download.
  • Water for the World, Technical note series rws 2, USAID 1982 - Technical notes on methods of developing of groundwater, manual drilling techniques. Website Livewater International.