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A List of Land Surveyors Tools

We get asked from time to time for a list of tools for land surveyors. While it may vary from region to region, most of what we have found is that most land surveyors want and need the same basic list of tools on the job. What can cause the list of tools to vary the most would be the type of surveying being done, whether it's boundary surveying, construction stake out, GPS, topo or terrain surveying, or a focus on typical surveying like what you see with mortgage surveys. We will provide a basic list that almost all land surveyors would use every day, and a list of equipment that would be used occasionally but also probably carried along with them in the survey truck. Keep in mind this is a very generalized list and if the surveying crew or surveyor was specialized type of work, then the equipment needed would be outside the scope of this article or list.

Surveying Instrument
Instrument such as a Total Station, or GPS equipment if surveying with GPS. The instrument should have a way to plumb itself with a point on the ground either by laser plummet, optical plummet, or traditional plumb bob. The instrument could be a theodolite but total stations are much better since they record the data on each shot and saves valuable time.

Surveying Tripod
Instrument Tripod. Usually a very sturdy tripod that will hold well in the ground and remain level and not vibrate. Most tripods used for land surveying have a 5/8 x 11 threaded bolt for mounting instruments and holding them snug against the tripod head.

Prism Pole and Prism
If you're using a Total Station and its not "reflectorless" you will need a prism pole and prism.

Magnetic Locator
If you're going to be looking for property corners then a magnetic locator is almost a must-have. They will save you enough time and effort to pay for itself in only a few weeks or months depending on how often you use one. The Schonstedt 52Cx is a tried and true workhorse that's affordable and easy to use.

Brush Axe
Even if you don't plan to be surveying in the woods or brush, a brush axe is very handy to have when walking through the woods. They can help hold back briers, and kill snakes if needed. Also, you can put chop marks on trees which designate and help surveyors located boundary lines in the future. Typically a tree with one chop is not on the property line but near it and the chop is on the same side of the tree as the boundary line. A tree with two chops typically means the tree is sitting directly on the boundary line with one chop showing where the boundary line enters the tree and the other chop opposite the first designates where the boundary line exits the tree. Then three chops typically designate and "point" directly to a property corner. Usually if the tree is over say 6 or 10 feet from the property corner it can be used to put chops on, otherwise it's too far away to be considered one that can be used as a tree to show three chops on.

Surveyors Safety Vest
A quality reflective Class II surveying vest would be wise. The Seco brand that we sell is made with heavy stitching and will last a long time. Seco's safety vests also has pockets that make them handy for storing cell phones, extra batteries, and the like.

Surveyors Roll Flagging
Roll Flagging comes in extremely handy when marking lines, or tying around property corners or trees. Presco Texas Flagging we have found to be the best and hold up without fading as soon as the discount surveyors roll flagging.

Depending on your preference, you may want to carry a field book or two. Many surveyors still like to make notes on the job site about weather conditions, the job number, the names of the crew members, and any information that the data collector or surveying instrument typically does not record. Other Surveying Supplies needed to have with you or in the survey truck would be wood stakes or rebar for marking property corners (some surveyors even use metal pipe to mark property corners), inverted marking paint, transit level and grade rod if you need to take any readings for elevation that you miss or can't get to with a total station, survey nails and tacks, a long measuring tape (more than one possibly), water coolers, walkie-talkie radios, and bug spray.

And last but not least, there's tools and supplies that you may want to have in your survey truck for of a "just in case". Tools like distance measuring wheels, hammer, gammon reels, plumb bob.

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