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  1. #1
    Platinum Member
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    Aug 2013
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    610
    Location
    Parker, CO
    Tractor
    Kubota L3200hst

    Default Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    Some recent snow melting & turning parts of my driveway to mud has informed me I didn't get the grading quite right.

    What ways do you measure out a grade before moving dirt? My eyeball it & guess method is close, but not quite good enough.

    I'm familiar with the concept of using stakes marked to the appropriate height, but probably looking for a good way to set them...

    String & level... Slow but cheap
    Rotating laser... Not so cheap & minimal range in the sun
    Surveyor's transit... Might have to recruit your wife to hold the stick, but reasonably quick. Any cheaper than a laser?

  2. #2
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    421
    Location
    Southern Alberta, Canada
    Tractor
    4410 and F-935 John Deere

    Default Re: Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    You can buy cheap laser levels. Just set one up at just above ground level to grade and pound your stakes in to grade in the evening.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    626
    Location
    Southern Utah
    Tractor
    John Deere 3120

    Default Re: Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    The absolute cheapest way I know is an A-Frame level. Slow and a PITA in the wind but can be just as accurate as a laser. Let me find a linky ... stand by.

    Here ya go:

    How to build and use an A-frame level - YouTube

  4. #4
    Elite Member Baby Grand's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    3,689
    Location
    Windsor, CT.
    Tractor
    Kubotas: L3240GST B2320HST B5100D & G5200H

    Default Re: Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    Get some 5/16" or 3/8" or 1/2" clear plastic tubing and mix up some food coloring in water.
    Set stakes in the ground and tie the tubing to the stakes, with the tube open ends pointing up.
    Mark the first stake at the desired elevation.
    Let the tubing in between the stakes rest on the ground, forming a squat u-tube.
    Using a funnel, fill one end of the tubing until it reaches the desired level.
    The fluid at the second stake will be at the same level, give or take 1/8".
    Mark and repeat until your contour is laid out with enough marked stakes to get the grade you need.
    Cheap-n-easy, like me!
    That's the problem with trouble.
    It always starts out as such fun."
    - Randall Brown

  5. #5
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    224
    Location
    Grand Lake OK
    Tractor
    Kubota L4600

    Default Re: Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    You can rent a laser transit from most rental shops and that will probably be the cheapest and most exact method.

  6. #6
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    1,493
    Location
    N. Yarmouth, Me.
    Tractor
    N. Holland tc30

    Default Re: Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    First time I ran into a laser level was in a welding supply shop. Reasonably priced, machined so lay outs would be a snap etc, picked it up looked it over good quality, set it down and turned it on.
    By then the counterman was beside me with a big smile on his face, "great product, whatta think?"
    I turn to him and say what's the attraction? And he walks away rather dejected.

    It wasn't till after I'd left I realized why I wasn't impressed.
    I'm colored blind, I couldn't see the red beam.

  7. #7
    Super Star Member murphy1244's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    16,786
    Location
    Ohio
    Tractor
    Kioti DK 40-Massey ferguson 135-Ventrac 4500 Diesel

    Default Re: Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    Quote Originally Posted by Baby Grand View Post
    Get some 5/16" or 3/8" or 1/2" clear plastic tubing and mix up some food coloring in water.
    Set stakes in the ground and tie the tubing to the stakes, with the tube open ends pointing up.
    Mark the first stake at the desired elevation.
    Let the tubing in between the stakes rest on the ground, forming a squat u-tube.
    Using a funnel, fill one end of the tubing until it reaches the desired level.
    The fluid at the second stake will be at the same level, give or take 1/8".
    Mark and repeat until your contour is laid out with enough marked stakes to get the grade you need.
    Cheap-n-easy, like me!
    I used to do suspended ceilings using that tube.style.
    Murph ------------

  8. #8
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,952
    Location
    Doniphan, Mo.
    Tractor
    Kubota L4240, B7800 & BX2660

    Default Re: Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    Quote Originally Posted by rsallen View Post
    First time I ran into a laser level was in a welding supply shop. Reasonably priced, machined so lay outs would be a snap etc, picked it up looked it over good quality, set it down and turned it on.
    By then the counterman was beside me with a big smile on his face, "great product, whatta think?"
    I turn to him and say what's the attraction? And he walks away rather dejected.

    It wasn't till after I'd left I realized why I wasn't impressed.
    I'm colored blind, I couldn't see the red beam.
    Good one...

  9. #9
    Veteran Member buckeyefarmer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    2,367
    Location
    MD
    Tractor
    Kubota L3940 L5030 MF205-4

    Default Re: Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    I layed out my house with just a hand held $2 sight level that has horizontal and vertical bubbles inside. trying to find a link on HD site, but all the advertise are the expensive ones.

    Maybe more than $2, but I didn't pay $20. It's like this.
    Johnson Hand Held Sight Level-80-5556 at The Home Depot

    also a line level works. It's around $2 plus the cost of some string.
    L3940HSTC, QA FEL, BH92
    L5030HST,QA,FEL
    MF 205-4
    Husqvarna YTH24V48LS (the other orange)
    KK Finish Mower, KK Tiller, 6' rotary mower, Pallet forks, PHD, Blade, Carryall, cultivator, 2 wheel barrows, assorted gardening tools,

  10. #10
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    213
    Location
    Elliot Lake, ON
    Tractor
    2012 Mahindra Max 22, John Deere D120

    Default Re: Most economical/efficient way to mark a grade?

    As mentioned above a water level is the easiest method and accurate enough for driveway grading. When using one outside the water level will bounce around a bit on a windy day.

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