Accuracy Matters

Marking out a level line for a decorating or building job can sometimes be tricky. It is the first stage in any constructive project and if you go wrong in this step you will certainly regret it. Flat walls are easy but what if you have a lot of features with curved surfaces or pillars. Getting it right can make or break the whole project so how can you be sure that your marking out will be accurate? One way is to pay a lot of money for laser level devices and tripods and all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff, but I want to tell you an old fashioned trick that not many people know but everyone can understand.

Gravity is Always Right

Water is under the influence of gravity as is everything on earth. Because water is a liquid calm water will always be level. This can be used to our advantage when we want a level line because if we can encapsulate water somehow it can be used as a reference in order to achieve a level line. This article will explain how this is done in detail but first you will need some items.

Household Items

Firstly you will need a plastic bottle made of colourless transparent plastic. You will need a length of clear plastic hose also which should be available from a DIY store. This needs to be fairly wide because water in a vessel tends to curve up at the edges (for your information only this is called a meniscus and is an effect of water's chemistry) so inch wide tube should be ideal. You will also need a step ladder, a piece of wire to make a hook from, some duck tape, a pencil and optionally some temporary adhesive such as "blu-tac" and a straight edge. I should say that the longer the piece of hose the better as far as this trick is concerned because if the tube is long enough to get to all the points that need to be marked then the ladder will not need to be moved as much and therefore accuracy is assured.

Put it Together

Fashion the wire into a hook that will hang on a step ladder for indoor work, a lamp should not be used, water and electricity do not mix! Outside you can use a fence ora tree. The duck tape may be useful in attaching the hook to the bottle. Carefully drill or cut a hole in the lid of the bottle the size of the hose. The diameter of the hose will determine the bottle you will need. Then put the hose through the cap to be screwed onto the bottle later. Use PTFE tape or glue gun glue to form a seal between the bottle neck and the hose by wrapping it around the end of the hose that is inserted into the bottle neck. Wrap an excess of PTFE tape so that by screwing the lid tight it compresses the excess hanging out causing a pressure seal around the pipe that should be watertight. raise the other end of the hose to the same level as the bottle then fill with water. fill to a level and mark it on the bottle with a marker pen and the same on the pipe.

How to Use It

You are now ready to mark your line. Go to the positions you want to mark with the end of the pipe away from the suspended bottle. Gravity ensures that any mark you make relative to the level of the water will be accurate. You can use a straight edge to draw lines from mark to mark. You may need to use temporary adhesive such as "blu-tac" to steady the pipe so you are free from the shaking of your hand, and I will be glad to shake your hand if this has helped you on a job.


As Seen On The Back of an Envelope