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How to use a Grade Rod for Measurement

How to use a Grade Rod for Measurement

How to use a Grade Rod for Measurement

When you need to measure a change in elevation, you need a grade rod. A grade rod is a tool — typically constructed from plastic, fiberglass, wood, or aluminum — that comes in a range of different sizes and measurement units. Grade rods are often used in conjunction with levels to produce accurate measurements. Read on for more information on proper use of this tool, including how to set it up, prepare to take measurements, and gather accurate measurements.

Extend the Grade Rod to Its Full Length

The first step to using a rod measurement is extending the tool to its full length. A measuring rod will typically be collapsible and require manual adjustment to reach its full size. In order to do this, you should ensure that the numbers on the grade rod are spaced evenly — especially if you are working with a telescoping grade rod. If not fully extended, skipped numbers could result in inaccurate measurements.

Extend the Grade Rod to Its Full Length

Set Up the Transit Level on Its Tripod

To set up the transit level, you should place the level on the head of the tripod and secure it by threading or bolting it to the base. The spirit level should then be centered, indicating that it is level. When this happens, you may lock the legs of the tripod in place and proceed.

Determine the Points

Once you have ensured that the tripod is level, you must create reference points for the measuring rod to measure against. To do this, you should create marks on a stick and hold it in place vertically while noting the measurements of the stick from the telescope of the transit. This step typically requires two people — one to hold the stick and one to note the measurements. It is best to enlist an assistant if you don’t already have one.

Determine the Points

Hold the Grade Rod Vertically

After the points have been determined, you can use the grade rod to determine the elevation of the plane in question. First, you must compare the measurements to the plane in order to establish its slope. This is done by holding the grade rod vertically and comparing it to the marked stick from the prior step. Then, the assistant must confirm this measurement using the telescope of the transit.

Hold the Grade Rod Vertically

Adjust the Zoom and the Focus

To make your measurement, you must read the numbers on the grade rod, and in order to do this, you must adjust the zoom and focus on the transit level. This will allow you to more clearly see the numbers and take an accurate measurement. Zoom and focus can typically be adjusted by manually manipulating a dial that is located on the transit level.

Adjust the Zoom and the Focus

Take Note of the Measurement

If you have successfully adjusted the zoom and focus of your transit and can view the grade rod through its telescope, you are ready to record your measurements. Look to see what numbers are displayed on the grade rod and move the rod to next spot you need to measure. Note that your transit should remain fixed while swiveling toward the new placement of your grade rod.

Take Note of the Measurement

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of levels can I use with a grade rod?

How to use a Grade Rod for Measurement
Grade rods are compatible with a wide range of levels, and your choice largely depends on personal preference. Some of the different types of levels you may use with a measuring rod include surveyor levels, optical levels, and laser levels.

Are there different kinds of grade rods?

Yes, there are several different kinds of grade rods to choose from, but all will yield the same results. The biggest difference between grade rods is how those results are measure. Some measuring rods offer measurements in either tenths or hundredths of a foot.

How can I shoot a grade?

To shoot a grade, you should set up a laser level on a transit. The receiver should be elevated to meet the laser level’s eye, and the elevation can then be read on the rod through the telescope of the transit.

How do I use a builder’s transit level?

To use a builder’s transit level, you should secure a tripod and attach the transit level to its head. Ensure that the spirit level is centered to indicate that it is level and rotate the telescope to make it parallel with the transit’s thumbscrews.

How do I take care of my grade rod?

How to use a Grade Rod for Measurement
Taking care of your grade rod is like taking care of any other tool. Be sure to handle it with care and minimize opportunities for it to be scratched or otherwise damaged. Do not let your grade rod get wet, and if it does, dry it off immediately.

Grade Rods from the Top Brands

Grade rods are one of the most essential tools for engineers, builders, and anybody else who needs to measure elevation. Engineer Supply has the best selection of grade rods. Call (800) 591-8907 and we’ll help you find the best one.


Best Measuring Sticks

1. LaserLine 10 Foot Direct Reading Laser Rod GR1000T


One of the best selling rods with a laser for direct readings is made by LaserLine. This high-quality laser rod is designed for use with a laser detector. Special rails allow the detector to travel the working length of the rod for easier readings with less adjustment. This 10 foot rod has graduations for feet, tenths and hundredths.

2. T&T Tools TPA48 - Smart Stick Standard Soil Probe


The Smart Stick Standard Soil Probe by T&T Tools is made of steel and maintains its original shape better than other probes. The shaft, tip and handle of this rod are threaded for adding extensions and replacement parts. Vinyl grips and tapered edges support ease of use. This model is not insulated to resist electrical shock.

3. Seco Satellite Stick XL Sectional 2-Meter GPS/GIS Pole 5126-10


The Satellite Stick XL Sectional 2-Meter Pole by Seco is an advanced measurement tool consisting of six carbon fiber sections connected by elastic shock cord that screw together to form a rigid pole. This model supports an adapter that increases the diameter of the pole to accommodate Claw Series Data Collector Pole Clamps, both of which are sold separately. This measuring tool collapses to the length of 1.3 feet.

4. Alumicolor 8008-1 - 36" Yardstick


It is hard to beat the affordable price of the Alumicolor 8008-1 36" Yardstick. Measuring sticks by Alumicolor Precision Tools are accurate measurement tools. This silver yardstick has yard markers and 16ths on the front side, a blank back and measures 1/16” thick and 1-?” wide.

5. Seco 98010 - SVR Series Rectangular-Oval Fiberglass Leveling Rod


This model of the Seco SVR Series of leveling rods has a redesigned locking mechanism with round buttons and is compatible with laser levels and EDM systems. The non-conductive design has a leveling rod on the front and a measuring scale on the back, with the exception of dual-scaled versions. A rectangular-oval shape prevents the tool from rolling and promotes ease of handling.

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