Different Excavator Uses: How to Find What Your Business Needs

Excavators for demolition at work at a construction site.

Excavators are extremely versatile. There are countless excavator uses for you to explore. Many people use excavators to dig trenches or holes. Others use excavators to lift heavy objects.

The opportunities are endless.

In this article, we'll cover the top excavator uses in the industry right now. We'll also go over the functions excavator attachments serve. But first, we'll start with the basics.

A strong base knowledge of excavators will help you get the most from this guide. So, to find out "what are excavators used for" or "how to use an excavator", keep reading!

Excavator Basics

Whether you're a new or seasoned operator, it's good to revisit the basics. Let's start with an excavator's makeup.

The base of an excavator is a rotating platform called the house. The house is just above the undercarriage. It contains the area where the operator sits, known as the carriage or cab. The engine, fuel, hydraulic fluids, and counterweight are also part of the house.

The excavator has a boom arm that extends from the house. The boom arm typically has a bucket attachment to move material. For other functions, you can switch the bucket out for another attachment.

How to Use an Excavator

Now, let's go over how to use an excavator. Before we start, determine if your excavator uses an ISO or SAE control pattern. The instructions below are for the ISO pattern. If your excavator uses the SAE pattern, reverse the controls to the opposite side.

  1. Raise the red lever on your left to unlock the controls. Then, put your safety belt on.
  2. Your right joystick controls boom height and bucket position. Push your right joystick forward to raise the boom. Pull back to lower your boom. Push right to open up the bucket and left to close it.
  3. Your left joystick controls your excavator's stick. Push your left joystick forward to send the stick further away. Pull it back to bring the stick closer to your cab.
  4. Your left joystick can also rotate the cab. Send your cab left or right by pushing the left joystick in the desired direction.

Different Excavator Uses

Now you know how to use an excavator. From the cab, the operator controls the boom arm. The boom arm features an attachment on its end. So, what are excavators used for? That depends on the attachment!

Let's go over different excavator uses and their attachments!


Excavators for demolition use a hammer attachment. The hammer breaks up existing concrete structures. It can also chip away at large boulders and other tough materials. Excavators for demolition also use ripper attachments. Rippers claw the ground like a huge, metal fingernail. They rip and crack rocks, roots, and frozen ground to break up the surface.

For more information, visit this blog featuring excavators for demolition.


For forestry projects, operators mainly use shear attachments. Shears can feature one or two knives. The knives cut through trees. The operators can then lift and carry the trees away. Grapples are sometimes used in combination with shears for lifting logs and lumber.


Finally, the most popular of the excavator uses: earthmoving. The standard bucket attachment features sharp, teeth-like edges. The edges dig and scoop out land. This attachment helps dig trenches.

Operators learning how to use an excavator on a construction site.

Finding an Excavator

Wondering how to use an excavator? What are excavators used for? What different excavator uses are there? These are all questions we've answered for you. Now it's time to learn how to buy an excavator.

Heavy Machinery Hub makes the process simple for you.

Choose the equipment type and specifications you need at the top of this page. Then, get free quotes on excavators for sale in your area. Looking for a rental instead? No problem! Select equipment type, location, and timeline here. Then, you'll get listings on all the excavators for rent near you.

The time to get an excavator is now! We can help you find mini-excavators, standard excavators, and even large excavators for demolition! With Heavy Machinery Hub, the options are endless. All you have to do is get started.

Invest in an Excavator Today

Further Reading:

Search excavation equipment rentals near you:

Browse heavy equipment rentals in your area.