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

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Project by Rick M. posted 52 days ago 952 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


3235 posts in 949 days

#1 posted 52 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.

3357 posts in 878 days

#2 posted 52 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


382 posts in 127 days

#3 posted 52 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


1563 posts in 338 days

#4 posted 52 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


110 posts in 741 days

#5 posted 52 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

View Don W's profile

Don W

13922 posts in 1065 days

#6 posted 51 days ago

Well done Rick

-- There is nothing like the sound of a well tuned hand plane. - (timetestedtools at hotmail dot c0m)

View doubleDD's profile


2020 posts in 541 days

#7 posted 51 days ago

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

-- --Dave-- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3357 posts in 878 days

#8 posted 51 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


3518 posts in 480 days

#9 posted 51 days ago

Proud to have these in my shop. Thanks man.

-- Red -- “I ain't as good as I'm gonna get....but I'm better than I used to be."

View JL7's profile


5974 posts in 1463 days

#10 posted 51 days ago

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

-- Jeff - I have not failed. I've just found 10,001 ways that won't work.

View Airframer's profile


1952 posts in 451 days

#11 posted 51 days ago

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

-- Eric -

View Tim's profile


906 posts in 459 days

#12 posted 51 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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