Homemade Surveying Instruments

Professional surveying equipment is quite expensive, but you can make your make your own homemade equipment using simple home tools. You can purchase items from your hardware store to substitute for survey equipment. Homemade surveying equipment are easy do-it-yourself tools meant for surveying, especially on a less-professional level or better still to help you understand surveying better and how each surveying tool is used. You can also use homemade surveying tools to teach basic surveying skills without spoilage of any surveying equipment. Plumb bobs, measuring rods, sextants and carpenter levels are examples of equipment that can be homemade.

Chain and Measuring Rod

A chain from a hardware store can serve the task of a tape measure. These connected metal segments usually measure 65 feet. In the absence of a tape measure, you can interconnect the chains together and use it in place of an actual tape measure. The chains are also available in various lengths from 65 feet to 164 feet and select one that serves you best. You can use a measuring rod ranging from 6 feet to 16 feet well-calibrated to use in your other measurements. When marking the measuring rod, ensure you mark it the same way as a measuring tape for accurate measurement of distance.

Plumb Bob

A plumb bob is an instrument used to check if objects are vertical. You can make your own plumb bob using a string and a piece of metal with a pointed tip. Tie the piece of metal to the string and ensure that it is firmly attached. This will obviously serve the same purpose as a plumb bob. When the plumb bob is hanging freely and is not in motion, the cord is vertical. The plumb bob tool is a key piece of surveying equipment and though the string and piece of metal is a dummy of the original, it is easy to make.

Ranging Poles

These are poles used to mark out straight lines in a field. They are also important in marking out points that you have to see from a distance. You can attach a flag to it to improve visibility. Ranging poles are usually 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches thick and tower up to 6 feet. You can buy a metal rod from your hardware store or you can use a bamboo rod of the same height and width. Ensure that the bamboo rod you use is straight, curved ranging poles are not usable. You can get a piece of cloth preferably white in color and attach it to the ranging poles.


Pegs are important surveying equipment used to make permanent markings when required. You can get a piece of wood, like cut-outs from tree branches, measuring 2 inches by 2 inches with a height 1 foot to 2 feet. Sharpen its edge to make it easier to press into the ground. When using the pegs, ensure you drive them vertically into the ground because this assures you of correct marking. Ensure that the top of the pegs are clearly visible.


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