A Step By Step Guide For Digging The Perfect Hole While Metal Detecting

OK so you’re probably thinking it’s just a hole? Why do I need a step by step guide for digging a hole?

It’s not just me struggling for things to write about, honestly.

Digging the perfect metal detecting hole is an acquired skill and it’s not as simple as you think.

There’s many reasons why you should master the art of digging a plug or hole too!

Firstly when you get permission from a landowner, the last thing they are going to want to see is holes everywhere.

I have known of people lose their permission because of the mess they have made when digging holes! It wasn’t that they didn’t fill them either, just you could really see where they had been due to the large and messy holes they had dug!

You don’t want to be digging unnecessarily big holes.

In some circumstances the grass can continue to grow and won’t die, providing you dig the plug right.

There’s a couple of techniques you can apply to dig the perfect hole when out metal detecting.

Once you’ve mastered the art, you’ll not really see where you have been digging so the landowner will be happy.

The ground will be much safer for people to walk over, no divots or excess mud to trip over.

You’ll not be breaking your back as much digging and you’ll decrease the time spent digging!

Firstly you’re going to want to make sure you have the best metal detecting digging tool for you.

My personal preference if you’re starting out with a budget is a short round nosed spade much like this one here.

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They are easy to control, lightweight, portable and more importantly will last you a long while.

So once you’ve got the right tool for the job, let’s look at how to dig a hole for metal detecting.

How to dig a plug when metal detecting

Once you have a signal in the ground from your metal detector, then either use the pinpoint feature or gauge where the centre of the target is using your coil. Each detector is different. On mine its just a little further back from the center of the coil.

Put down your detector (try to visualise or mark the center of the signal before doing this)

Take your shovel and ensure that the head of it is angled straight down into the ground. In some cases this would mean leaning the shovel handle slightly forward because of the way they are shaped.

Next around 5 inches from the signal center, take your foot and push down on the shovel so it goes straight into the ground (make sure it’s a straight cut down)

Repeat this in a circle shape all the way around. With practice you’ll get better at cutting the perfect circle.

On the last cut when you complete the circle as you get to the bottom, lean the shovel/spade backwards as to lift the plug out of the ground.

Then lift the shovel upwards and remove the plug. If you’re in the right ground conditions it should just come out all in one.

Now the hard part is to locate the find and keep the plug in such a condition that it can be placed back into the hole you’ve made.

This is where a pin-pointer will come in handy.

Take the pin-pointer and slowly run it around the soil until you hear the signal. If you don’t then you’re going to want to probe the soil a little until you find it. (try not to disturb the grass part of the plug)

You can knock of the soil with your shovel or your trowel until you recover the target.

When you’ve finished take the excess soil and place it back in the hole.

Now take the plug and put it back in the whole.

Once the soil and the plug is back in the hole, you can tread it down carefully.

If you’ve done it right you should barely see where you have been.

Don’t panic if you’ve made a mess, you’ll get better at this with time, sometimes even now after all these years I’ve been detecting you get that one hole that you really do mess up.

How to dig a flap when metal detecting

A flap, is not a plug, you are not going to be completely removing the sod.

This method is a great way of keeping the grass alive.

Much like above you are going to start by locating the center of your target using the pin-point feature on the metal detector.

Place your metal detector on the ground next to you, keeping an eye on where the center of the signal was.

Take your shovel and come out a few inches from the target.

Make sure you dig straight down, ensuring that the blade of your shovel is not an angle.

You’re going to create 3 cuts in a small square, ensuring you leave one side of the plug uncut.

Once you have done this you will then place your shovel in the cut opposite the side that you haven’t cut.

Get all the way down to the bottom of the cut with your shovel and lean it back and lift the sod up slowly until it flaps over.

Do this gently ensuring you don’t break the side without the cut, keeping the roots attached.

You can use your hand to help lift the flap back, by reaching down underneath the soil and turning it over.

Keeping your holes small and neat

The main thing you want to be practicing is keeping the holes as small and neat as possible.

Regardless of where you are digging, you can achieve this by mastering the pin-point feature of your metal detector.

If you don’t have a pin-point feature you’ll need to figure out where the “sweet spot” is on your coil.

The “sweet spot” is the place on your coil that locates the center of your target the part that makes the signal the loudest and best when running it over the target in the hole.

Mine can be found about 3 inches from the back of my coil, directly center.

When you’ve found this practice creating your holes just a couple of inches around the target keeping your hole as small as possible.

This way you don’t unnecessarily remove the earth you don’t need too.

Don’t worry if your target is not in the initial earth that you remove, this is very common.

The next thing for you to do is to run your pin-pointer probe around the edges and at the bottom of the hole you have dug and work from there to locate your target.

Filling your holes

This part of the metal detecting hobby is very important.

You should always fill the holes that you have dug.

There are many reasons for doing this, you’ll be surprised at how many detectorists are too lazy to fill in the holes and get too excited to move on to the next target.

You’ll find that if you don’t fill your holes the landowner wont be very happy and could potentially stop you from detecting their land.

It’s also very dangerous to leave the hole unfilled, you’re leaving a huge tripping hazard for people walking by which could cause injury.

To fill your holes it’s very simple you just replace the earth you have removed.

If it’s a plug you’ve dug on pasture ground with grass, then you first put the loose soil back and then place the plug back into the ground ensuring you tread it down.

If it’s just standard ground you just ensure all of the earth is put back into the hole and again you tread and compact it down as best as possible.

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