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Level, Plumb and Square
by Judy Brown

What did you think when you first read the title? Level, as in level-headed? Maybe you thought a plumb assignment or a town square? When it comes to home improvement these words mean something completely different. It is important to realize that level, plumb and square are not only important, but often critical components in the success or failure of a project.

Let’s look at some new definitions for these words and how to make them work for you in your next project.

Level – having no part higher than another; having a flat or even surface; being in a plane parallel to the plane of the horizon; horizontal.

Plumb – true (exact or precise) according to a plumb line (a cord with a lead bob attached to one end that is used to determine perpendicularity); perpendicular: vertical

Square - to bring to the form of a right angle or right angles; set at right angles to something else.

How to Measure:
Level – sometimes called a ‘spirit level’. To determine if a floor, shelf, countertop or other flat surface is level you will need a level. I recommend a 2 ft. level for most projects because it is the most versatile. If you have a very long surface you will get more accurate results with a longer level. To use a level place it onto the surface you want to measure. Be sure that surface is smooth without bumps or debris. Look at the liquid filled, glass tube in the center of the level and make adjustments up or down until the bubble is sitting between the 2 black lines.

Plumb – To determine if a vertical surface like a wall, fence post or pole is plumb you can use your level for this job, too. Place the level up against the surface you are check for plumb being sure the surface is smooth and free of debris. For this measurement you will use the liquid filled tube on one end of your level. Make adjustments until the bubble is in between the 2 black lines.

Square – To determine if the place at which 2 surfaces meet are 90° apart you will need either a speed square or a framing square. When you place either of these tools at the point at which 2 surfaces the sides of the tool should sit flat on both surfaces. If there is a gap on one side or the other you will need to make the necessary adjustments.

As you can see these 3 features work together when building a room, a fence, installing cabinets or building a deck to make the final product usable. If your floor isn’t level, your walls are not plumb or your corners are not square, every time you sit in that chair you’ll have a constant reminder of the importance of level, plumb & square.

About the author:

Judy Browne is the creator and founder of Workshop for Women, LLC. Workshop for Women offers fun hands-on classes in basic home improvement skills especially designed for women. Classes include: Power Tools, Carpentry, Pluming, Electrical, Drywall Repair and more. Visit for more information or give Judy a call at 303-284-6354.

Judyapostrophes next workshop is:

"Envisioning Your Space – Color, Space Planning and Furniture Arrangement"

Are you an HGTV junkie, but cannot figure out how to create the right design in your own home? In this class you will learn how to use color, space planning and furniture arrangement to create the perfect space. You will learn which colors work best together, and how to create the ideal color scheme to match the mood and setting for which you are seeking. Come to class with a space in mind that is causing design problems. You will have the opportunity to learn about space planning and optimal furniture arrangement in your chosen room. At the end of the class you will know how to use these three elements to help you meet the principles of design and to create a room that you’ll love!