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How to Use a Tube Level

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Learn all you need to know about using a tube level.

This tutorial series focuses on providing a foundation on which to develop an interest in masonry.

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In this video you will learn how to use a Tube Level

A Tube Level is essentially a transparent plastic tube filled up with a column of water. It is used to transfer a vertical level across a distance. It works based on the principle that water seeks its own level. When the two ends of the tube are held up, the water surfaces will always rest at the same vertical plane. This offers an advantage over a spirit level as it can mark the same height between large distances regardless of changes in the ground.

The tube level can also be adapted to easily transfer the level of a profile brick placed on the ground. Here, we have constructed one by attaching the Tube level to a Jerry Can on one end and a wooden strip on the other end.

To make the apparatus, start by creating two holes in the lid of the Jerry Can, one in the center and another one beside it. The hole in the center should be wide enough to fit the tube. The smaller hole next to it will enable air-flow. Use a marker to make sure that you know exactly how wide the hole needs to be. To create the hole, we have used a heated screwdriver for the large hole and a heated nail held with a pair of pliers to create the smaller one.

Once the holes have been made, push the tube through the center of the lid, as shown here. Pull it through so that it is slightly longer on the inside of the lid than the height of whole container.

Now, fill a bucket with water and mix a colouring solution to stain it so that it is clearly visible in the tube. Place a funnel on the mouth of the Jerry Can and pour the stained water up to the three quarter level.

Insert the section of tube below the lid into the can and screw the lid shut.

Use a section of flexible wire to support the tube where it falls from the lid of the Jerry can so that it does not fold. First make a hook on one end of the wire and run the hook through the handle. Loop the other end of the wire through the hook and around the base of the lid, fastening the wire securely. Now, wind the free end of the wire around the tube in spirals so that the tube does not collapse.

The loose end of the tube now needs to be secured along the wooden strip using three bits of adhesive tape, one on either end of the strip and one in the center.

To start using the Tube Level, hold the end of the tube secured to the wooden strip to your mouth and suck in air to create a vacuum that will draw water into the tube. Block the tube with your finger to slow down the water rushing into it. The water in the tube will finally settle at the same level as the water in the Jerry Can and will remain so. Any variations in ground level may now be noted by marking the water level in the tube on the wooden strip.

To set multiple profiles on a uniform level, place the wooden strip of the tube level on the first profile at a 90 degree angle and mark the water level next to the tube. This mark sets the reference level for all the remaining profiles. Now, place the wooden strip on the second profile and note the level of the water in relation with the reference level from the first profile. If the water level is below the reference level, as shown here, it indicates that the level of the ground or surface on which the wooden strip is placed presently, is higher than the first profile. If such is the case, simply remove a layer of mortar from below the brick until the water level at the second profile is the same as the reference level.

You have now learned how to use the Tube Level.


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