Saturday, August 30, 2014

Modernized Plumb Level

Plumb levels have been around for at least 4500 years. Egyptians used them to build pyramids and the Romans used variations for surveying and construction. This is a modernized reproduction of the plumb level as drawn in Peter Nicholson’s The Mechanics Companion, 1831.

Nicholson's plumb level


Plumb level in Thomas Martin’s The Circle of Mechanical Arts, 1813.

Moxon’s carpenter and bricklayer level


My version replaces the string with a brass rod, the nail or pin becomes a wood axle press fit into a roller bearing. The frame is cherry, the plumb bob is striped ebony, the inlay strip is American holly, finish is beeswax and oil.



The brass rod is canted back toward the frame and the plumb bob is flat on the back. On a level surface the pointer will be centered on the holly strip. The bearing is a 1/4×3/8×1/8” metal shielded bearing press fit into a hole drilled top center. The ebony axle has a small tenon that fits into the bearing. Gravity forces the pointer toward earth and when centered within the holly strip, the base is level.




I built a second level and used brass screws instead of pegging the corner braces so it can be adjusted. The second version was given away in a swap so I can't say how well the adjustable feature worked.




The bearing I used.


With the addition of a protractor, you can easily make a gravity inclinometer.