Land Measuring Tools

Updated February 21, 2017

Construction professionals, architects, surveyors and DIY builders use land measuring tools to plan, lay out and mark their projects. Land measuring tools include tools that measure across the earth's surface and between fixed, distant points. Surveying tools gauge the position of topographical features, such as hills and gulches, and determine the degree of the land's slope and angles. Whether you're planning a construction project or researching a real estate purchase, become familiar with land measuring tools and choose the right kind for your job.

Measuring Wheel

This land measuring tool resembles a single bicycle wheel attached to a handle. The measuring wheel measures distance across surfaces. To use a measuring wheel, a surveyor or builder places the wheel on the ground, grasps the handle and pushes the wheel across the surface. Each of the wheel's revolutions is counted by a mechanism attached to the handle and displayed in metric or American standard measurements within an odometer-like box. Measuring wheels, also called "surveyor's" wheels, are often used to quickly gauge large distances.

Surveyor's Transit

Surveyors use this tool to measure and gauge both horizontal and vertical angles. Because a transit measures angles relative to the earth's true horizon, it is often referred to as a "surveyor's level." A transit looks like a miniature telescope resting atop a long-legged tripod. Inside the telescope, a spirit level and scope etched with graduated lines allow surveyors to gauge and measure the angle of distant horizontal and vertical features. In some instances, surveyors operate the tool alone. Occasionally, the transit measures angles in conjunction with a measuring rod held at a distance by another surveyor. State-of-the-art transits feature GPS, digital measuring and levelling, and supreme accuracy.

Water Level

The term "water level" refers to a levelling tool, often homemade, that gauges the vertical position of two points in relation to one another. In its simplest form, a water level is a clear tube or hose, partially filled with water. Both ends of the water level feature marks indicating increments of measure, such as inches or centimetres. A builder plugs the open ends of the tool and holds each end at a separate point, such as the opposite shores of a river. Gravity causes the water to settle at the same vertical position on both sides of the hose and the water's position relative to the hose's measurement marks indicates the levelness or unevenness of the two points.

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About the Author

Based in Hawaii, Shane Grey began writing professionally in 2004. He draws on his construction experience to write instructional home and garden articles. In addition to freelance work, Grey has held a position as an in-house copywriter for an online retailer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Humboldt State University.