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The slight bumps on even a good brick are going to throw a torpedo off a bit.. They're only a few bucks.


Very true. A technique I use to approximate the base of a torpedo to a "real" level ,I glue two pieces of straight grained cedar cut to width of "regular" levels. Doing so insures that when or if you switch over in size,the reading corresponds. I use PL premium glue,lasts forever.
 

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Renaissance Man
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2-4$ plastic throw-aways for soldiers, a decent magnetic level for plumbing.... Try to avoid torpedo levels with the level vial marked out for fall...

The plastic/fiber reinforced cheapies can be cleaned in acid...

FYI the 'torpedo' level is named after 1880-1920 "torpedo boats" similar hull shape.

In my opinion, Aluminum tools aren't the way to go, mortar adheres to tightly.

Stabila makes some nice products, but for me the larger/longer vials of either Smith or Cricks are worth the hassles of caring for the wood.
Green tinted vials for inside work, clear alcohol spirits for speed/ outdoors.

Laying just one or two more CMUs a day of course will pay for a new level every month....
 

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M1911, Wood doesn't chemically bond to mortar like Aluminum does, The larger vials are easier, faster to read than the current competition.

Clear alcohol filled vials bubbles settle a little quicker than the Green tinted anti-freeze filled version, thus faster if you can see them.

Same mason building a multi- plumb point pier will get more done with Smith/Crick levels then using other brands of plumb rules with smaller vials.

A metal cast level will outlast most wood versions, but it will be reading out of tolerance much of that time from mortar stuck unequally to its bearing sides.:sad:
 

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I dunno, the wood levels have broken glass in them after about 6-10 weeks. I can drop an 8" block on my stabilla. I also think its quicker to look down on my metal level then to look to the side of a wooden one.

At the end of the day its the mason not the tool.
 

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Wood levels are so archaic, I use them along with my bit and brace for speed and efficiency... :laughing:



The wood is not the archaic part of the level. The archaic part is the curved glass vials. I have said this before and it still holds true. Smith and Crick make the prettiest levels out there,however after sending both of my brand new out of the box 2' and 4' Smith and Cricks back to the factories because they would not reverse themselves in plumb position,I just use them as wall ornaments. Pretty depressing especially since I called them and gave them a heads up. Both companies assured me they would get them spot on,yaddy,yaddy,yaddy.


I even suggested to both companies,get in the 21 st. century and start using solid block acrylic vials. Keep the curved glass ones for those that like to work with antiquated tools. They would not budge. Pretty soon,both of those companies will be in the same class as buggy whip makers.


A level that is a good option for those who like wood is the Starrett exact. It is a aluminum I beam with wood infill along with solid block acrylic vials for those who think it is nice to have their level read the same in all positions (not marking the good side ):laughing:
 

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Sad but true, never buy a Crick sight unseen...

Sometimes even the 5 ply levels will warp, and they are hand made....some hands are more skilled than others, and they 4:30 levels like we have 4:30 striking...

If you have a little patience you can rebuild the wood level by resetting the vials in fresh plaster of Paris, I can lay 100 brick faster then rebuilding all six vials and lenses...

In general isn't a Vial that can be read from all angles less sensitive than one with a simple arc (two vials in every opening.)

If they won't repair or replace the level, remove the lenses and remove the paint stripes, then just repaint the lines in the correct location or wrap with fine dark wire/thread for lines
 

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mason contractors
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Sad but true, never buy a Crick sight unseen...

Sometimes even the 5 ply levels will warp, and they are hand made....some hands are more skilled than others, and they 4:30 levels like we have 4:30 striking...

If you have a little patience you can rebuild the wood level by resetting the vials in fresh plaster of Paris, I can lay 100 brick faster then rebuilding all six vials and lenses...

In general isn't a Vial that can be read from all angles less sensitive than one with a simple arc (two vials in every opening.)

If they won't repair or replace the level, remove the lenses and remove the paint stripes, then just repaint the lines in the correct location or wrap with fine dark wire/thread for lines
I remember the old man resetting the vials in plaster....I did it a few times as well as painted the lines...takes a steady hand though.

imo wood is the best. Millers falls made some nice wood levels. I always mark one end and use it's end up as well as it's side toward the brick...a simple arrow carved!
 

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I remember the old man resetting the vials in plaster....I did it a few times as well as painted the lines...takes a steady hand though.

imo wood is the best. Millers falls made some nice wood levels. I always mark one end and use it's end up as well as it's side toward the brick...a simple arrow carved!



I hear you loud and clear,that is why I mentioned marking the level,we have all been there. With that said,I love the look,feel,mortar shedding aspects of a top notch wood level.What turns me off completely is the inability of them to consistently reverse themselves and for the 2' to match the 4' one.


When I grab a level,I do not want to have to give a seconds thought to "do I have it oriented correctly". And I certainly do not want to have to "rebuild " it out of the starting gate. Being the die-hard traditionalist I am,it was very difficult to bite the bullet and buy / use an aluminum level with solid block acrylic vials. I had to make the concession,the consistency, easier to read vials and reliability were impossible to pass up for just the pretty wood.
 

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mason contractors
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I hear you loud and clear,that is why I mentioned marking the level,we have all been there. With that said,I love the look,feel,mortar shedding aspects of a top notch wood level.What turns me off completely is the inability of them to consistently reverse themselves and for the 2' to match the 4' one.


When I grab a level,I do not want to have to give a seconds thought to "do I have it oriented correctly". And I certainly do not want to have to "rebuild " it out of the starting gate. Being the die-hard traditionalist I am,it was very difficult to bite the bullet and buy / use an aluminum level with solid block acrylic vials. I had to make the concession,the consistency, easier to read vials and reliability were impossible to pass up for just the pretty wood.


I have 3 aluminum levels. 18'' 24'' and 36'' millers falls.. bought them 30 years ago...nice but if dropped they get a fast bend. Mine are really machinist's ie not solid but nice. But there is nothing like ranging a 4' chimney with the 4' wood level with grip holes...nice and light.
As to keeping a level right end up it's easy..lol on chimneys it hangs ready to go....and Fred I never worry about a 2' level matching up i.e. and if it doesn't match, I merely stain it the same color!:jester:
 

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I can't see how a level that reads the same when reversed, not match every other level that reverses...also show the same reading on the same location? School me please.

For all but the finest work or fragile leads(wet brick,cold,glassy units) I strike the level to level the course with my trowel bumper, wears the level out quicker, but much faster than tapping each unit individually. I'm using solid Cricks, except on chimneys and other plumb point parties, the lighter weight is darn nice at the end of the day. I'd use a pine level if they were available more often, they're like balsa wood, and if you drop em, you didn't ruin a day's pay. You can cut them down to the exact length needed...They are pretty few and far between at garage sales/auctions now though.

Crick and Smith levels were/are almost mandatory in our union locals, it is hard some times to get your level back out of the gang box if it isn't clearly marked---In my dad's day in Chicago locals, you were fined if your Velander levels weren't clearly marked with your union # or the serial # of the instrument
 
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