There are different types of tools and machines used in soil excavation in building construction. These tools and machines are basically classified into two. Namely :

  1. Manual or Hand Tools
  2. Machines


These tools are generally used for smaller depths of excavations in small areas. Man power is usually required to operate these tools. These tools includes:


Fig. 1 Shovel

Shovel is a tool used in lifting of excavated soil from one point to another. It is similar to spade but is different in the leading edge. Shovel has a higher curvature of metal plate compared to spade such that it can hold the excavated soil easily and lifted it to another point. Shovel can also be used for different digging purposes where there is soft soil or sand.


Fig.2 Spade

Spade is an important tool for soil excavation. It consists of a metal plate with sharp edges. The plate is attached to a shaft with a handle made up of metal or wood. The sharp edges helps in digging the soil easily. The spade has less curvature for lifting of soil from one point to another.


Fig. 3 Hoe

Hoe is a tool consisting of a metal plate attached to a long handle with acute angle. The metal plate has a sharp edge which is used to excavate the soil. It is widely preferred for small excavation works. The metal plate in hoe can also be replaced by fork type of plate.


Fig. 4 Hand Trowel

Trowel is a hand tool generally used for Mason works. It can also be used in digging of small trenches in soil or to uproot shallow roots in soil.

Pick Axe

Fig. 5. Pick Axe

Pick Axe consists of a hard spike metal attached perpendicular to it long handle. It is used to cut or break the soil to allow for trenches especially where the soil is hard. The metal spike is pointed on one end and the wide blade is provided on the other end.


Fig. 6. Mattock

Mattock is similar to pick axe in nature but cannot be used for serious digging compared to pick axe. It is generally used as a lifting tool because of its curve shape spike metal attached to the handle.


These are the tools which are operated by mechanical force and are used for the larger depths of excavations. These Machines includes the following :

  1. Bulldozer
Fig. 7

Bulldozer is used for pushing of the top soil layer to convenience stock pile position. Bulldozer consists of hard steel plate with sharp edge at its front. This sharp edge helps the plate to cut the soil and excavate. The metal plate can be raised and lowered with the help of hydraulic arms. The bulldozers are available in both tracked and wheeled form. These are widely used for the works of soil excavations, weak rock strata removal, lifting of soil, grading, etc.

2. Dragline

Fig. 8

Dragline is another form of excavator that has a bucket dragged towards the machine which excavate the ground to its own level. Dragline excavators consists of large length boom. In dragline, a cable is hanged from the top of the boom and a digging bucket is suspended to the cable. Dragline excavators are generally used for larger depth excavations like port construction, under water sediment removal etc. These are heavy equipment with greater economy.

3. Back Hoe Excavator

Fig. 9

Back hoe excavator comprises of hoe and a loader. The hoe arrangement is on the back side and loader bucket is arranged in front of the vehicle. So two operations digging and loading or lifting is done by hoe and loader. This machine is moved with the help of wheels which makes its movements from one workstation to another quickly.

4. Tracked Excavator

Fig. 10

This machine is also known as track hoe. It consists of cabinet and long arm. Long arm again consists of 2 parts. The first part which is closed to the cabinet is called as Boom and the other part is called as Dipper-stick. In tracked excavator, the digging bucket is attached to the end of dipper. This entire system can rotate 360 degrees. In this case Vehicle is moved by traction, this equipment can be used in mines, forestry, pipeline industries etc. The Excavator function with the help of hydraulic fluid that is why it is also called ‘hydraulic excavators’.

5. Wheeled Excavator

Fig. 11

The whole arrangement in Wheeled excavator is similar to the tracked excavator but different in the movement of vehicle which is done by wheels. It can move quickly when compared to tracked excavator but it is not suitable for uneven grounds or hilly areas because of slippery nature. So these are generally used for road constructions.

These are equipments used in digging trenches in the ground. They are available in different sizes based on our requirement. The trenches dug are generally used for drainage purpose, pipeline laying, cable laying. The trenchers are generally available in two types.
Chain trenchers
Wheeled trenchers

a. Chain trencher consists of a fixed arm called boom around which the digging chain is arranged upon. The chain is very hard and consists sharp tooth. Whenever it is driven into ground the chain rotates around the boom with rapid force and cuts the ground. The depth of the excavation can be managed by adjusting the angle of the boom. It cuts the soil with hard strata which cannot be excavated by bucket type of excavator. In case of smaller chain trenchers wheeled vehicles are available and for larger chain trenchers are available in tracked form.

Fig. 12

b. Wheeled trenchers
In wheeled trencher, toothed metal wheel is used as trenching tool. This equipment is available in both tracked and wheeled form of vehicles. When compared to chain trencher the wheeled trencher can cut harder soil strata. It is also used to cut pavement surface while road repair works. Economically also wheeled trencher is better than the chain trencher.

Fig. 13


Fig. 14

This is used for shallow excavation up to 1.5m deep it’s particularly used for leveling and road works.


Fig. 14

This a tractor drawn toothed used for breaking a hard surface.

This machine is used for scrapping or “pairing off” of the top layer of the soil, transporting and depositing it at the stock pile position.

Fig. 15

Abasiekeme George

Architect by profession, Political Analyst, Blogger and Publisher @, Writer, Critic, and a Good Governance Advocate.

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