Tripods & Tribrachs

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Tripod Components

  • Legs: Tripod legs can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, fiberglass, steel, and aluminum. While steel is the most durable one of these options, it’s also the most dense, so consider that if you’re planning to haul your tripods a significant distance. Aluminum, on the other hand, offers a great balance of durability and portability. If your priority is accuracy, you’ll want to go with wood or fiberglass since they’re not as susceptible to temperature changes.
  • Points: Metal points on the end of tripod legs keep tripods stable and prevent leveling tools from shifting too much during measurement. This is especially important for outdoor projects, but practice caution when using them indoors, as the points will scratch the floor.
  • Head: Different types of heads can be attached to the tripod’s legs depending on the application. Flat heads are the most common for laser levels, but dome heads and threaded bases also have their place in survey projects.

Tripod Setup and Care Tips

  • During setup, pull the legs apart carefully and space them out so that they’re in the shape of an equilateral triangle.
  • Each point on each leg should be pushed into the ground for optimal stability and balance.
  • Make sure the tripod’s head flat before attaching your laser level.
  • Never bend the tripod’s legs. Push them into the ground at an angle.
  • With adjustable leg tripods, clamp the legs at a height suitable to the user.
  • Be careful not to torque or twist any of the joints when adjusting them, as this can cause them to break over time.
  • Keep the tripod clean and ensure that all the joints are lubricated by using a silicone-based oil every few months.
  • When transporting the tripod, wrap it with a piece of heavy material in case it falls.
  • Do not place equipment on top of the tripod.
  • Store your tripod in a clean, dry place, either in a corner or on a hook.
  • Place a protective cap on the head of your tripod to prevent damage between uses.


Are wood tripods more stable than steel or aluminum?

As mentioned earlier, aluminum tripods are lighter and less expensive than steel tripods, but they are also less stable and can vibrate more when working. Steel tripods are heavier and more expensive, but they are much more stable and dampen vibrations better than aluminum models. Wood tripods fall somewhere in the middle of these two options, offering good stability and vibration damping while still lightweight enough to carry around easily.

Why are tripods used in surveying instead of four-legged pods?

Most surveyors prefer tripods with three legs because they are more stable and can handle uneven ground better than pods with four legs. They’re also easier to calibrate and position than four-legged ones.

What are the benefits of using a tripod for leveling?

Tripods allow for accurate leveling by giving users the ability to extend the legs to the necessary height for leveling instruments and maintain stability the whole way through..