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Minnesotan bores deeper into market with his electric drill auger

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Outdoors

Though Baumann owns two K-Drill patents, he gives much of the credit for the auger's design to fellow Minnesota engineer Doug Kluge.

Kluge's father, Jacob, was an ice-auger innovator as early as the 1950s. Along with his son, Kluge believed electric augers ultimately would prevail among anglers over more traditional gas-powered models.

"When you add up the pluses of electric augers, you see the advantages pretty quickly," Baumann said. "No gas spilled in the back of an SUV. No smoke or noise. No oil leaks. No hard starting on cold days."

Other manufacturers also produce battery powered augers, notably Ion, which first marketed an electric model in 2012; Strike Master, owned by angling powerhouse Rapala; and fellow winter-fishing heavyweight Clam, which sells an auger kit that can be paired with a cordless drill.

The breakthrough that successfully brought K-Drills to market occurred about four years ago when Milwaukee brand power tools developed a 1/2-inch drill that was "brushless" and powered by an 18-volt lithium-ion battery. The drill's battery worked well in cold weather and delivered considerably more power to the auger than earlier models.

"It was important to us that the auger, with the drill, not only be lightweight, but that it could be operated with as little torque as possible to the angler," Baumann said. "You shouldn't have to be a big strong person to handle the drill while the auger cuts the ice."

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DeWalt and other tool makers also produce light-commercial drills similar to Milwaukee's, with costs hovering around $275. Eight-inch K-Drills, meanwhile, sell for $259, with 6-inch models costing around $200.

The combined approximate $525 cost of the 8-inch auger is similar to prices fetched by battery powered augers made by Ion and Strike Master.

"The advantage with our auger is that you have the drill to use the rest of the year for other purposes," Baumann said. "For ice anglers who work construction, or even just for homeowners, the drill comes in handy."

By some estimates, about 1 million anglers fish through the ice each winter nationally, with the largest share in Minnesota. In a given year, perhaps 10 percent to 15 percent buy augers, Baumann believes.

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