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How to get things Level and Plumb

Skill Level: Beginner

Introduction

Whether you are tiling the bathroom wall, fitting shelves in the bedroom, or building a patio wall, ensuring everything is level and plumb is absolutely essential in order to complete the job satisfactorily. With just a couple of easy to use bits of equipment, and no previous experience necessary, you can get the results you want, and save money too.

 

Spirit levels

A spirit level is a handy piece of kit…you will find use for it, time and again over the years to come, so it makes sense to get a good one! The best you can afford. When choosing a spirit level make sure it is of rugged construction-they tend to take a few knocks and bumps over the years.

The best levels have adjustable tubes bubble(vials) When checking a level, lay the it down on a suitable flat surface, then turn it round in the opposite direction – you should get the same reading, both times.

Longer spirit levels are more accurate, although shorter ones are better in some situations, especially when working in odd corners and recesses. Generally, a good quality level will have more than one tube (vial) and can therefore be used when working with different angles.

A spirit level is a handy piece of kit…you will find use for it, time and again over the years to come, so it makes sense to get a good one! The best you can afford. When choosing a spirit level make sure it is of rugged construction-they tend to take a few knocks and bumps over the years.
 
The best levels have adjustable tubes bubble(vials) When checking a level, lay the it down on a suitable flat surface, then turn it round in the opposite direction – you should get the same reading, both times.
 
Longer spirit levels are more accurate, although shorter ones are better in some situations, especially when working in odd corners and recesses. Generally, a good quality level will have more than one tube (vial) and can therefore be used when working with different angles.

Using a Spirit level over longer distances

When checking the level over a long distance, you will need to “extend” the working length of the level. One way of doing this is to set the level on top of a length of rigid batten or board which span the points you are checking, but only after you are satisfied the timber is straight. If the timber is bent or warped, you will simply introduce errors, often glaring, into your work.

 

Levelling jobs – Laying concrete

For jobs such as laying concrete, you can use levelling stakes, a mallet, and a spirit level, to check and cover quite large areas.

This is relatively simple and involves cutting a number of wooden stakes, and driving them into the soil around the perimeter of the area to be covered. Start by levelling just two stakes using a batten or board, and work your way around the border, levelling the stakes, each in turn.

For jobs such as laying concrete, you can use levelling stakes, a mallet, and a spirit level, to check and cover quite large areas.
 
This is relatively simple and involves cutting a number of wooden stakes, and driving them into the soil around the perimeter of the area to be covered. Start by levelling just two stakes using a batten or board, and work your way around the border, levelling the stakes, each in turn.

Levelling using wooden stakes

Use a batten and wooden mallet, as you move round the marked out area to correct the tilt of the stakes; bringing each in turn level with the previous stake, until eventually you have established a level surface to work from.

 

Levelling a wooden fence

For jobs such as erecting a wooden fence, a line level is the most useful type of level. A line level is simply a small spirit level designed to hook onto a line fixed taught between two points.

 

Vertical plumb

As mentioned previously, most quality spirit levels incorporate a second bubble tube which is set upright across the body of the level. When the bubble is centred in the tube, the body of the level is perfectly vertical.

 
Although this vertical bubble will cover many working situations, it is not much use when trying to fit or hang something flexible…like wallpaper!

 

Plumblines

A plumbline can be a good substitute for many little jobs where ordinarily you would reach for the spirit level, if handier if you did not have a spirit level. You can purchase a plumbline from any good hardware store, but you can actually make your own very easily and cheaply. All you need is a ball of string and any heavy weight.

 

If you hold up the weighted length of string, and just let the weight settle, it will find its own vertical. When the weight has stop swinging about, simply tape it secure against the wall, and rule a line along its length. If you purchase a chalk plumbline, there’s no need to mark the line by hand; simply snap the string against the wall, and you’ll have a perfectly visible chalk line to work to.

A plumbline can be a good substitute for many little jobs where ordinarily you would reach for the spirit level, if handier if you did not have a spirit level. You can purchase a plumbline from any good hardware store, but you can actually make your own very easily and cheaply. All you need is a ball of string and any heavy weight.
 
If you hold up the weighted length of string, and just let the weight settle, it will find its own vertical. When the weight has stop swinging about, simply tape it secure against the wall, and rule a line along its length. If you purchase a chalk plumbline, there’s no need to mark the line by hand; simply snap the string against the wall, and you’ll have a perfectly visible chalk line to work to.

Tools you will need:
Stabila 196-2 Double Plumb Level - 3 Vial
Stabila 196-2 Double Plumb Level - 3 Vial
- Black & Decker BDL120 Manual Laser Level
Black & Decker BDL120 Manual Laser Level
- Stanley 0-47-720 Post Level
Stanley 0-47-720 Post Level
- Stanley 0-77-018 Intellimeasure Untrasonic Distance Estimator
Stanley 0-77-018 Intellimeasure Untrasonic Distance Estimator
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