Graham introduced two basic and inexpensive tools to use for finding contours in a landscape.
The water level consists of a length of clear hose (which costs 35 cents/foot) taped to two tall sticks and mostly filled with water. One of the sticks has a pointed bottom for sticking in the ground, while the other has a flat bottom.
Water always finds its level. If you leave the pointed stick in place and probe around with the flat-bottomed stick, all the locations where the water is at the same height will be on the same level.
The A-frame can be built wonky; it doesn’t matter, as long as it is well braced so that it doesn’t flex. The center is found by taking the mid point between the positions of the plumb line when the frame is facing one way and when it is facing the other, with its feet in the same place. Clear as mud?
We also learned to use a transit level. The laser level was introduced during the optional implementation week.