Your Guide to Excavator Attachments

Just as there are various types of excavators, you’ll find a range of attachments to help you complete any job even more efficiently. At H.O. Penn, we update our collections of new equipment, used tools and rental parts regularly to give you the latest excavator technology.

This guide will help you consider our most popular excavator attachment types, offering a starting point to determine whether specific attachments will help you achieve your next workplace goal.
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Whether you’re starting your search for an excavator or ready to invest in a new attachment, H.O. Penn can deliver what you’re looking for.

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Bucket Attachments

When searching for excavator attachments, bucket attachments are among the most common. Though buckets are some of the most widely used attachments for excavators, they are highly specialized based on the purposes for which you’ll use them.

Most buckets come in various sizes and weights to fit operations of every size. More than that, though, every part of their construction, from rim to bottom, is specifically designed for particular applications. You’ll find many options, including:

  • Digging buckets: Digging buckets are ideal for clearing away rocky, compacted environments. They often have teeth around the rim to help the bucket break ground.
  • Grading buckets: These buckets are wider than most options and feature smooth, rounded edges to assist in leveling operations. They work well as a follow-up to digging, trenching and other buckets that break ground and adjust the foundation of your project.
  • Rock buckets: Rock buckets are suited to some of the most abrasive, heavy-duty operations, like moving rocks. They may have reinforced parts and strong teeth.
  • Trenching buckets: Trenching buckets are similar to digging buckets, as they’re also designed to dig. They are usually thinner, though, so they can dig in smaller areas without disturbing any rocks, pipes and other things that may be nearby.
  • Riddle buckets: Riddle buckets are also called skeletons or shakers. Their main identifying feature is the holes in the bottom that allow you to separate dirt, rock and debris.
  • V-buckets: Like a trenching bucket, V-buckets or trapezoidal drainage buckets are built for digging trenches. Digging a trench in this shape can prevent its sides from caving in unexpectedly.
  • Angle tilt buckets: If your operations require a lot of machine movement, consider an angle tilt bucket. These buckets can move independently of your excavator, saving you the time and effort of reorienting the entire machine.


Thumbs are often a vital tool for attachments that carry and move material. After loading the attachment with material, you can engage the clamp, which will cover the opening of the bucket or another attachment you’re using, keeping everything in place until you move the excavator to the disposal or distribution area.


Augers allow you to get deep into the ground with sharp, efficient spiral blades that can easily break through soil, clay and other materials. They’re often used in construction projects to create holes for fence posts. The tips of the augers are often referred to as bits and may be constructed from a range of materials based on what kind of ground they’ll dig through. The most common auger bits are the:

  • Standard bit: Standard bits are ideal for operations that need to drill the occasional hole in various types of earth. These attachments are excellent all-around tools for excavating teams new to drilling.
  • Industrial bit: When you need something more heavy-duty than your standard bit, an industrial bit is a great fit. Industrial bits are more resistant to breakage and wear and tear, extending their life span.

You may also find more specialized auger bits for operations like planting trees or breaking through rock.


Like their hand-held counterparts, hammers are perfect for breaking up tough materials like cement and rock. Use them for demolition projects and in quarries where you’ll need significant force to break through anything in your way.

There is a special type of hammer known as a vibratory hammer or pile driver. Instead of breaking down strong material, pile drivers are excellent for putting new equipment into place, including posts and pilings.


Rippers often work in tandem with hammers. While the hammer has a flat head, rippers have strong teeth than can further break up materials and aid in demolition. Rippers can be especially useful in the colder months to dig into frozen ground and reveal workable land.


Excavator dredge attachments assist in water-based operations or anywhere you may need to separate sediment from liquids. Dredge pumps feature two parts. The first part is a sharp cutter head with rotating spikes that drag along the sides and bottom of a tank, lake, harbor or pond to break up debris. The second part — a pump — pulls the broken-up material out of the water for further processing or disposal.


Couplers make life easier for small groups or operations where only one excavator operator is available. It enables easier attachment switching that only requires one person to complete. Coupler options include:

  • Manual coupler: Manual or mechanical couplers have the highest breakout force available, though they are a more advanced form of coupler and most suited to small excavators.
  • Hydraulic quick coupler: Hydraulic couplers are similar to mechanical ones, though their use of hydraulic power can make them faster and easier to operate.
  • Pin grabber coupler: Pin grabbers can make an excavator compatible with attachments from most manufacturers. Pin grabbers may allow you to retrofit your excavator with an attachment that doesn’t entirely fit your existing setup. In exchange, the connection may not be weaker or unable to handle the same weight or manufacturer-specified force.
  • Tilt coupler: Excavator tilt couplers are powerful tools. If you work with or around steel, these couplers will help you cut through and alter them however needed. Aside from the standard construction uses for this tool, they can also assist in projects requiring the maneuvering or handling of planes, cars and ships.

Hydraulic Shears

Hydraulic shears are similar to tile couplers, tearing apart steel in construction and demolition. What makes these shears different is their use of hydraulics, which can prevent sparks and flames — a necessary precaution when operating indoors or around flammable materials.

Attachment Power Systems

While some equipment can attach to an excavator and be ready for action, most attachments require extra power support to function safely. Before you commit to an attachment, check its power requirements to see if you can access the power source it needs. An attachment may require:

  • Auxiliary power: Most equipment needs auxiliary power, or power that can be taken straight from the excavator’s engine. Larger excavators can offer more support, while smaller excavators are more likely to need an outside power source to work with attachments.
  • Hydraulic power: Hydraulic power comes from hydraulic power units (HPUs). These power packs are separate from the excavator and generally run on diesel and hydraulic fluid, giving your equipment the extra power boost it needs to operate at full capacity.

Find Excavator Attachments at H.O. Penn

Whether you’re starting your search for an excavator or ready to invest in a new attachment, H.O. Penn can deliver what you’re looking for. We’re proud to be the official Cat® dealer for most of Connecticut and New York, maintaining the largest and most reliable selection of excavators and excavator attachments around. Browse our selection today to find your solution, then contact us to get a quote and secure the tools to make your next project a stunning success.

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