Levelling Instruments & The Art Of Levelling

Dumpy levels, theodolites, Abney levels, spirit levels – within the world of levelling, there are many different levelling instruments that we use for civil engineering projects, surveying, general contracting and so forth. The type of levelling equipment you need depends largely upon the task at hand.

But, first, let’s discuss the practice of levelling and why it’s so important. Within surveying and engineering, proper levelling is crucial when building just about anything including roads, buildings, houses, schools, etc. Without levelling and proper attention to issues such as soil and erosion control, you could end up with a leaning tower of Pisa on your hands or worse.

Even just a simple home project, such as installing a shed in the backyard or putting up fencing requires some levelling to ensure that the fence features a consistent height. Or we can go even simpler. Think about hanging a picture or shelf in your home, and what happens if that’s not level. It might not be catastrophic, but it’s definitely not attractive.

Let’s take a quick look at some common types of levelling instruments, as well as our selection here at Warren Knight.

Dumpy Levels – When you need a field instrument that can take accurate vertical measurements, a dumpy level can be an excellent option. This type of level is meant to be used with a tripod, but it’s wise to select a tripod that also includes a built-in bubble level. Obviously, if your tripod isn’t level, the measurements you take with the dumpy level won’t be accurate.

Theodolites – These can look similar to a dumpy level on first observation, but they are typically larger and they allow the user to take measurements in both the vertical and horizontal plane, unlike the dumpy level, which is used only for vertical measuring.

Of course, there are actually many different types of theodolites in addition to those used by surveyors and engineers. At Warren Knight, we have theodolites are used primarily for meteorological and navigational purposes, such as our WK-20-9100 Series Electronic Meteorological Theodolite or our WK-20-8400 Pilot Balloon Observation Theodolite.

These theodolites aren’t meant for use in levelling tasks, but rather to track the angles of elevation and azimuth of weather balloons as well as aircraft, ships and other moving objects.

Abney Levels – These levelling instruments have been around for nearly two centuries, and include a sighting tube, a protractor scale and a spirit level. Abney levels are lightweight and portable, which makes them a handy tool for suveryors, foresters and other professionals who go out into the field.

Our WK-40-1750 Abney Level was built for use in rugged environments. It includes an internally adjustable bubble magnifier that can be focused to the user’s eye thus eliminating the need for refocusing. It also comes equipped with four scales, allowing the user to obtain one a combination of slope readings, including degrees, percent of grade, topographic arc and chainage correction.

Spirit Levels – These also are known as bubble levels, and we all probably have at least one of these in our house. There are many levelling instruments that include a spirit level. For instance, our aforementioned Abney level includes a bubble or spirit level. These are known as “spirit” levels because the liquid inside the little level tube is actually alcoholic, thus it is a “spirit,” although we doubt it’s a fine 25-year-old Lagavulin.

Electronic Levelling Instruments – Digital levels and electronic protractors are handy leveling tools, and these don’t require the user to interpret a spirit or bubble level or a Vernier scale, you simply read what’s on the digital display. Other options include electronic altimeters and construction lasers.

If you wish to take your levelling to the next level so to speak, take a look at our selection of quality levelling instruments here at Warren Knight. Our items include electronic protractors, digital protractors, precision frame spirt levels, our Abney level and much more.Warren Knight has been a leader in the precision instrument industry for more than a century. We can provide you with quality levelling instruments, surveying instruments, clinometers, optical tooling and calibration services. If you don’t see the precise instruments you need, give us a call as we may be able to provide you with a custom design that meets all of your specifications.

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