How to use a spirit level

Home building tool tips that make DIY so easy

No DIYer, Home Handyman or builder should ever be without a spirit level - small or large. A spirit level is used for determining horizontal and vertical levels and can be used on a variety of DIY projects in and around the home.

A spirit level is used to designed to indicate whether a surface is level on the horizontal or vertical planes, and there are a variety of sizes and designs for every project.

The most important feature on any spirit level is the glass or plastic vial. This vial contains a coloured liquid that has a bubble of air that moves horizontally or vertically along the vial.
The best spirit level to buy is one that features both a horizontal and vertical vial.
The vials feature two graduation marks that are spaced to allow positioning of the bubble between these two graduations, which then indicate horizontal or vertical level.

Accuracy of level depends on the quality of the spirit level used. Obviously, a quality spirit level, such as that manufactured by Stabila, will offer a more precise and accurate reading than a cheaper, more inferior model.
To use a spirit level properly the level should be positioned in the centre, on a firm horizontal or vertical surface. If the plane to be checked is not even, place a straightedge on top and the spirit level on top of the straightedge.
The bubble should sit between the graduation marks.
Where the bubble sits over or out of the graduation marks, adjust the left or right side.
When the left side is too high the bubble will sit on the right side of the graduation marks and vice-versa for the opposite side.
Using this as a guide, you can now make the necessary adjustment to create a perfectly level project.

spirit level diyspirit level vertical

When you need to check vertical levels, place the back edge of the spirit level against a straightedge, which is then positioned against the vertical plane to be checked.
If the bubble is between the graduations, the plane is level. Where the bubble lies outside the graduations, move the straightedge until the bubble is centrally placed.
This will allow you to determine any uneveness on the vertical plane.

Tips for using a spirit level

Use a spirit level to check that timber or board is not bowed. This is important when looking for pieces to make projects with large flat horizontal or vertical sections.
It is always better to invest in a spirit level that is at least one metre in length. The longer the spirit level the more accurate the reading.

Contributed by Janice Anderssen from Home-dzine.