Supply list for a 100-foot well


Pneumatic drill set

Air compressor

150 to 200 feet of 3/8-inch air hose and connectors (attach together with threaded connectors not quick disconnects)

Automatic inline oiler or lubricator

1 quart of air tool oil

160 feet of 1-inch PVC pipe, schedule 40

300 feet of rope

55-gallon drum with open end

2 rolls of high-quality duct tape

700 pounds of small pea gravel

Magic marker

Measuring tape

100 feet of SDR 35 pipe, schedule 20, 4-inch diameter

5 feet of 8-inch PVC pipe

10 feet of 2-inch PVC pipe

80 pounds of concrete mix

This brings us to the drill setup. This will require a day of planning before drilling begins. Most home improvement stores will carry almost everything you need.

Step 1: After purchasing the necessary supplies and choosing the drill location, begin digging the main drill hole with an auger or post-hole digger. Dig about 4 or 5 feet. Then, if necessary, cut the 8-inch PVC to fit the hole, allowing 4 inches to stick above ground. In the side of the PVC pipe aligned with the settling pond (see Step 2), drill a hole large enough to insert the 2-inch connecting PVC pipe.


Step 2: Dig a shallow settling pond 10 feet behind the well, no less than 4 feet across. Then dig a shallow 8-inch ditch connecting the pond to the well hole. Connect these spaces with 2-inch PVC pipe and cover. This pipe will transfer clean water from the pond to the drill hole. The pipe opening in the pond will need covering with netting so debris doesn’t flow back into the well.

Step 3: Insert the 55-gallon drum at the edge of the pond, secure with stakes, and face the opening toward the well. The drum catches water from the well and empties into the pond where clean water will flow from the pipe back into the well.


Step 4: Attach 1-inch PVC pipe to the pneumatic drill using PVC glue and secure with duct tape to prevent leaks. Use a marker every 5 to 10 feet so you can keep track of how far down you have drilled. Rest the other end of attached PVC pipe in the 55-gallon drum. While the drill is running, mud and water will enter the pipe through small holes above the drill and be pushed up by the compressed air, traveling through the pipe into the drum and settling pond to be cycled back into the well hole.

Step 5: The air compressor will need to be set up and connected to the drill. Use duct tape to secure the air hose to the PVC pipe to keep it out of the way while drilling.


Note: Depending on your soil type, you may not need the 8-inch PVC. Our soil, for example, is hard clay and stable enough to keep the hole from collapsing without the pipe.

Well drilling rig

Drilling a well with this tool can take anywhere from 15 hours to weeks depending on the soil type, so make sure a chair is handy and you’re working with at least three people. One to operate the compressor, another to drill, and a third for breaks.


The air supply to the drill should never be turned off while the drill is underwater. If this happens, you’ll have to stop drilling and clean the motor before starting back up. This can take time and delay progress, which means it’s important that your drill team understands the process from start to finish.


Begin by filling the well hole with water. Turn the drill on before inserting, and then begin drilling. The bit will drill through all soil types, but when it hits clay or rock the process will slow down. Don’t get frustrated, just keep drilling and, before you know it, first water will be hit.


Move the drill in an up, down, and side-to-side motion as this will help the drill drive through the soil. The motion should be constant but not forceful; the drill will do the work. When you reach the point of needing to add more pipe, pull the running drill from the hole and, once it’s out of the water, turn the air pressure off. As you add pipe, secure each addition with PVC glue.


Add the next several feet of pipe and start again. Once the desired depth is reached, it’s time to case off the well. Casing is a matter of inserting SDR 35 pipe and securing in place with pea gravel and concrete. To do so, drill a hole through both sidewalls of the first piece of pipe, 2 or 3 inches from the bottom so you can attach the rope to lower the pipe into the well. When the top of the pipe is even with the ground, apply PVC glue and attach the next piece of pipe. Let dry for 15 minutes and then continue to lower down and add pieces as you go to meet the depth of the well. The last piece of pipe will be cut about 3 feet above ground level and capped off.


Pour pea gravel between the casing and the dirt. Next, mix the concrete and pour between the ground and casing. This will prevent the well from becoming contaminated from runoff. Once this is complete and you’ve added a well pump, you’ll need to run the well for a couple of days until the water is clear, and it’s always a good idea to get the water tested before using it for drinking.


Drilling a well can be a long process, but if you can save money and learn a new skill at the same time, why not give it a try? It’s a matter of getting back to basics and doing more for yourself.