Learn Some Common Forestry Tools

Common Forestry Tools

All photos courtesy of Forestry Suppliers. Used with Permission.

Altimeter (Haga Altimeter shown)
- measures height of trees and can also be used to measure slope.

backpack pump

Back Pack Fire Pump (Indian Backpack Firefighting Pump shown)
- when filled with water, this hand-operated pump can be used to extinguish small areas of burning grass.

bark gauge

Bark Gauge (JIM-GEM® Wood-Handled Bark Gauge shown)
- measures bark thickness by driving the cutting edge through bark until wood is reached. Guard is slid against tree or log and bark thickness is read directly off the scale.

cant hook

Cant Hook (Malleable Clasp Cant Hook shown)
- used to roll and position logs.


Chainsaw (Solo® 633 Top Handle Arborist Chain Saw shown)
- used to fell trees, prune branches, and cut up logs

chainsaw chaps

Chainsaw Chaps (Elvex® ProChaps Chain Saw Chaps shown)
- made with specially woven fibers designed to burst apart upon contact with a chain saw chain and jam the chain against the saw’s bar and sprocket, protecting the user’s legs from injury


Clinometer (Suunto® Clinometer shown)
- used to measure heights of trees, slopes, and vertical angles

data recorder

Data Recorder (TDS Ranger Data Collector shown)
- used to electronically store data in the field for transfer to a computer back in the office


Densiometer (Forestry Suppliers Spherical Crown Densiometer shown)
- used to help estimate the spacing of trees and determine if thinning or other practices are needed.

diamter tape

Diameter Tape (Forestry Suppliers English Steel Diameter Tape shown)
- when wrapped around the trunk of a tree, provides readings of tree’s diameter (D=circumference/pi)

dot grid

Dot Grid (Acreage and Photo-Coordinate Grid shown)
- used to calculate acreage by dot count on any map or photo, regardless of the scale

drip torch

Drip Torch (Wildfire Pacific Drip Liter Torch shown)
- used to widen fuelbreaks by burning out fuels between the break and the oncoming fire. It is widely used in mop-up operations to burn out pockets of fuel remaining adjacent to control lines after a wildfire is contained. It is also used to ignite fuels as part of a prescribed burn.
measuring tape

Fiberglass Measuring Tape (Keson® Open Reel Fiberglass Tape shown)
- used to measure distance in meters or feet; does not automatically retract like a logger's tape.

fire rake

Fire Rake (Council Fire Rake shown)
-used for raking fire lines to mineral soil, digging, rolling burning logs and cutting grass, small brush or saplings.

fire weather kit

Fire Weather Kit (Belt Weather Kit) (JIM-GEM® Fire Weather Instrument Kit shown)
- used to measure wind speed and direction, humidity, and temperature. It is often worn on a belt.

fire swatter

Fire Swatter(Fire Flap) (Council Fire Swatter Flap shown)
For smothering fires in grass, straw and low weeds. Sliding the swatter over low flames will extinguish the fire without fanning the blaze or spreading sparks.

current meter

Flow/current Meter (WaterMark® USGS Type Current Meter shown)
- used to determine water velocity in streams.

gps receiver

GPS Receiver (Garmin® GPS III Plus shown)
- utilizes orbiting satellites to determine exact latitude/longitude position. This information is used to draw maps and measure acreage as well as aiding in navigation.

Hand Compass (Suunto® Locator shown)
- used to navigate to known locations and to determine one’s location.


Hand Lens/Field Microscope (Illuminated Pocket Microscope shown)
- used to help identify items in the field.

hip chain

Hip Chain (Hip Chain® shown)
- used to measure distance by tying the end of the string to an object and walking. Distance displays in meters or feet on an odometer inside the box.

hypo hatchet

Hypo-Hatchet (Hypo-Hatchet® Tree Injector shown)
- used to selectively kill undesirable trees in a forest stand without harming desirable trees nearby by injecting tree with herbicide.

increment borer

Increment Borer (Suunto® Increment Borer shown)
- used to extract cores of wood from trees or freshly treated poles, piling, lumber, or timbers to determine growth rate, age, tree soundness and chemical penetration by drilling into the tree or material and extracting the core.

log rule

Log Rule (Spring Joint Log Rule shown)
- used to measure logs and determine board foot volume. The three most common log rules (ways of estimating log or tree volume) are shown on these devices.

Logger’s Tape (Spencer® Logger’s Tape shown)
- used to measure tree diameter as well as ground distance; recoils back into case when released.

ph meter

PH Meter (YSI® 60 pH Meter shown)
- used to determine the pH (how acidic or basic a substance is)


Planimeter (K&E/Haff Compensating Polar Planimeter shown)
- used to determine acreage from aerial photo or map. The round part is rotated over the perimeter of the area being measured. Readings in acres are displayed.

plant press

Plant Press (Student Plant Presses shown)
- used to flatten leaves and other plant parts for preservation as part of a collection.

Plastic Flagging (Plain Vinyl Stake Wire Flags shown)
- used to mark utility line locations, plot corners, etc.


Pulaski Forester Axe (USFS Approved Pulaski Axe shown)
Combination grub hoe/axe. Designed for chopping, grubbing, and digging fire lines in brush-filled or rocky terrain. Also is used for trail construction and maintenance.


Relaskop (Spiegel Relaskop® shown)
- used to measure tree height, diameter, and basal area (a measure of tree spacing); has a variety of scales.

safety glasses

Safety Glasses (Elvex OVR-Spec Safety Glasses shown)
- protects wearer’s eyes while working in conditions where airborne particles are likely.
hard hat

Safety Hard Hat (Bullard® 3000 Classic Slotted Cap shown)
- protects wearer’s head from falling material
soil sampler

Soil Sampler (Soil Probe) (JMC Backsaver Soil Sampler shown)
- used to remove cylindrical cores of soil to determine soil type and other soil attributes.

Soil Test Kit (LaMotte Model AM-32 Soil Test Kit shown)
- used to determine soil properties such as pH and the relative abundance of various minerals.

staff compass

Staff Compass (Warren-Knight Forester Staff Compass shown)
-used in surveying - much more accurate than a hand compass, but less accurate than GPS survey units.


Stereoscope (Abrams Model CB-1 Stereoscope shown)
- used to observe and measure slope on aerial photos

survey level

Survey Instrument (Topcon® AT-G7 Automatic Level shown)
- used to determine slope

tally book

Tally Book (Hand-Held Tally Book shown)
Use in cruising timber or in tallying lumber - height, diameter, and number of trees are recorded when cruising.

tally counter

Tally Meter (U.S. Government Type Tally Counter shown)
Used in cruising, tree survival checks, and other applications where items are being counted. Fits in one hand and can be reset to zero by turning one knob.

tree caliper

Tree Caliper (Wood Calipers shown)
-used to measure tree diameter

marking gun

Tree Marking Gun (Nel-Spot Tree Marking Gun shown)
- used to squirt paint on trees to be removed during thinning and other operations.

Tree Planting Hoe (Hoedad shown)
-used to create a slot in which to plant tree seedlings.


Tree Planting Bar ((Jim-Gem® OST and KBC Bar shown)
-used to create a slot in which to plant tree seedlings

biltmore stick

Tree Stick (Biltmore Stick shown)
Use to determine number of logs in a tree, diameter, and volume and to scale logs.

water sampler

Water Sampler (Student Water Sampler Shown)
Used to remove a small quantity of water from a stream or other body of water for use in testing its quality.

water test kit

Water Test Kit (Shallow Water Test Kit Shown)
- used to determine water quality in terms of such measures as dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, and turbidity.

wedge prism

Wedge Prism (Basal Area Prism) (Rectangular Prism shown)
- used during cruising timber to help determine tree spacing as well as to decide which trees should be measured when sampling is being used.


Wheeler Caliper (Jim-Gem® Wheeler Pentaprism Caliper shown)
-used to measure diameter and height of trees

All photos courtesy of Forestry Suppliers(opens in a new window). Used with Permission.

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