Winter 2013/14 Tool Swap: Plumb Level and Center Marker

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Project by Rick M. posted 178 days ago 1162 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The plumb level is a modernized reproduction of the plumb level as drawn in Peter Nicholson’s The Mechanics Companion, 1831. My version replaces the string and lead weight with a brass rod, axle, and roller bearing. Made from cherry (frame), walnut (axle & plumb bob), and holly (center mark); and finished with bees wax and oil. Gravity pushes the pointer down, toward the low side. Plumb levels can be extremely accurate.

This is actually the 2nd plumb level I built and benefits from lessons learned. Most importantly I did not glue the center portion and used brass screws instead of glued pins on the angle brackets, that way it can be adjusted if it ever gets out of whack.

I will write more about plumb levels in a separate project that will post tomorrow.

Bonus item:
The center marker is cherry with maple dowels, the pin is from a rivet. I used the pin as a pivot point so both dowel holes would be equidistant from the center. It’s used for finding exact center on the edge of a board.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

12 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


4012 posts in 1076 days

#1 posted 178 days ago

Rick, really neat plumb bob. The book you refer to, is there a printed version still avalable?

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3860 posts in 1005 days

#2 posted 178 days ago

You can buy the book from Amazon. If you buy a printed version make sure it has the illustrations, I seem to remember there is a version without them.

You might also be interested in Thomas Martin’s The Circle of Mechanical Arts, 1813. Here is a similar plumb level from his book.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View johnhutchinson's profile


590 posts in 254 days

#3 posted 178 days ago

Very cool tool !!! Let’s see, if I put 20 in a row, and lifted them on alternate sides with a series of cams … but I digress. :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View CFrye's profile


2797 posts in 464 days

#4 posted 178 days ago

I love the vintage-ness (that’s a word) of this plumB level Rick! The center marker is a great bonus. Thanks for sharing the projects and the book references.

-- God bless, Candy

View fatandy2003's profile


138 posts in 868 days

#5 posted 178 days ago

Very nice. Glad to see traditional tools live on!


-- -- Andy, Naples Italy, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it” - Thomas Paine

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Don W

14824 posts in 1192 days

#6 posted 178 days ago

Well done Rick

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View doubleDD's profile


2377 posts in 668 days

#7 posted 178 days ago

Great to see tools like this being made. I like it.

-- --Dave, Downers Grove, Il. When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams

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Rick M.

3860 posts in 1005 days

#8 posted 178 days ago

More about version one and plumb levels in general in a separate project page.

Click for details

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View BigRedKnothead's profile (online now)


4665 posts in 607 days

#9 posted 178 days ago

Proud to have these in my shop. Thanks man.

-- Red -- "That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." W. Whitman

View JL7's profile


7103 posts in 1590 days

#10 posted 178 days ago

Very cool Rick. Learned something new today…....

-- Jeff - I have not failed. I've just found 10,002 ways that won't work.

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2387 posts in 578 days

#11 posted 178 days ago

That is cool! I would have never thought of something like that. Nice work!

-- Eric -

View Tim's profile


1238 posts in 586 days

#12 posted 178 days ago

Very nicely done and great information, thanks. You can download free copies of three different versions of Mechanic’s Companion from Not sure what the differences in the editions are, but they are different years. They each seem to have the illustrations. You can get pdf or epub or other file formats. There’s lots of other good vintage woodworking books on there too including all 5 volumes of Turning and Mechanical Manipulation by Holtzapffel. (1832) (1842) (1845)

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