Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Stoney Knoll 1m Drawing Square

1m Drawing Square in use
 We took a couple Stoney Knoll 1 metre drawing squares with us into the field this summer.  I love mapping, but hate measuring, so this is probably my favourite new piece of field gear.  Its sturdy, collapsible, and accurate.  I've tried making 1m drawing grids in the past, but they always warped and I never figured out a way to make them collapsible.   The Stoney Knoll squares come apart into four 1 metre long rods and eight elastic grid strings, and come with a sturdy canvas shoulder bag for storage and transport.

Bungie strings stretch over obstacles 
Each of the red grid strings is a bungie cord with a ring on each end.  The rings fit over knobs attached to the yellow frame.  The stretching grid strings make them quick to assemble and disassemble, but they are also handy while you are using them.  They stretch over and around rocks that might be in the middle of your unit and if you are careful, you can even step onto the screen while you are mapping, without fear of moving or breaking your drawing square.

20 cm grid squares - good for big rocks
 The hollow square aluminum rods are held together at each corner by plastic "L" connectors to create a solid 1m x 1m frame.  The version that we bought had 8 strings and was divided into 20cm grid squares, which seemed to work well with the scale of rocks and features that we were mapping.  Occasionally, we wished for 10cm grid squares.  I see from their website that Stoney Knoll, now has a Deluxe drawing square with 10cm grid squares. Nice!

Legs would be awesome!
If the Stoney Knoll designers are looking for an Ultra Deluxe model, it might be great if it had collapsible legs on each corner.  Occasionally we were mapping very uneven ground surfaces and had to balance the screen on makeshift supports using buckets, nails, dustpans, camera bags, files, or whatever else we could find to level it.  If the square had built in or attachable legs it would solve that problem.

Great product.
Even when it wasn't being used to map, the 1m square was handy to have on site as a guide to quickly set up new units - just line it up on your existing grid and pop in stakes at the corners and you are good to go.  It came with a sturdy canvas bag with a shoulder strap for the frame and a smaller nylon bag to store the strings in.    Our screens are still in good shape after 3 months of daily use and I'm sure that we'll get several more field season out of them.  Everyone maps at a different pace, but for me, these grids let me map a 1x1m unit in about 1/4 the time of using a measuring tape to measure in each rock.  At $140US, they are worth the investment and pay for themselves with time saved and frustration averted.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. An excellent tool.

    For the legs, how about a simple split tube of somewhat flexible plastic attached vertically at each corner that would grip a detachable hollow rod? The split tubes should be fabricated to grip well enough to allow each leg to be individually adjusted up or down. The leg length needed to reach the ground under the frame could be adjusted and the surplus leg length would protruding above the frame.

    I could sketch this, but I see no way to include the sketch here.

    I'm a new reader here, a completely novice amateur knapper, and I admire this site enormously.


    Bruce Thomas

  2. That's a good idea, Bruce. The L connectors that come with the square are sturdy enough that you could probably drill through them and slide a small tube or rod through the hole to act as legs. Its could slide up and down as you suggest. If it doesn't grip well enough with friction alone, then a small screw could be set in the side to tighten or loosen like the screws on the legs of some tripods.

  3. I see from your sidebar that you already know that your blog has been nominated in the 2011 NL Blogger's Choice Awards> Just stopped by to tell you that and figured while I was here I'd wish you good luck!

  4. Thanks Stephen - you put a lot of time and effort into organizing the categories and nominees - much appreciated!

  5. Stoney Knoll writes: btw, Tim, perhaps you'd be interested to know how our company got its name: Back some 16 years ago Paul Bock (co-owner) stumbled across a fluted point site where he lived, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, on a location that was known by Don Noyes (Paul's father-in-law at the time,) as Stoney Knoll. That site later became part of a much larger complex known as the Israel River Paleo Indian Complex...spatially one of the largest grouping of Paleo Indian sites in the North East US. (aka: 27-CO-28) Love your photos. Love your website. Cheers...

  6. That's a cool name with an interesting history. Thanks for your comment. I'm sure you'll spot some Stoney Knoll 1/8" screens popping up in the photos from time to time as well!

  7. Stoney Knoll writes:
    That's great, Tim - we look forward to seeing our screens on your site. We are always looking for testimonials (with pics) to put up on our site, if you care to donate...

  8. Stoney Knoll writes:
    btw, I forgot to tell you that we have taken the legs idea into advisement - thanks!

  9. Thanks Stoney Knoll for valuing your customers' feedback :-)


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