Plumb Bobs have a rich and long history. This pendulum-like simple tool has been used since ancient Egyptian times. The purpose of a plumb bob is to point the true ‘plumb’ or vertical.
It is a string attached to a heavy pointed object. When it is suspended from a height, due to gravitational force, it points to the vertical and is perpendicular to any horizontal surface. They are precursors to the spirit level but are still used extensively today for various purposes.
In this article, we will be giving you in-depth knowledge on how to make and use a plumb bob. Whether you want the quick and easy-to-make variety or an industrial-grade plumb-bob, we have you covered.
How To Make And Use Plumb Bob – Step By Step Guide
Make A Plumb Bob
The Plumb bob is essentially a heavy pointed object tied to a string. The pointed heavy object can be of many different kinds. For a more precise and professional plumb bob, purchase it at the nearest hardware store or order it online. Here we will be teaching you how to make a DIY plumb bob.
Total Time: 1 Hour
Tie one end of your thread firmly around the head of the nail.
Hammer your nail into the wall high enough so that it goes the full distance from where you want your straight line to be.
Tie your heavy object to the other end of the thread. Keep the direction of the pointy end towards the ground.
Release the thread and wait for the object to stop moving.
Steps For Industrial Purpose
Wear personal protective gear and turn off the lathe machine. Take a piece of heavy cylindrical metal. Make sure it is not hollow. Take a long screw bolt and measure its thickness. Find the appropriate drill bit to match the screw bolt.
Attach a drill bit to the lathe machine. If the thickness of the screw bolt is too high, use a smaller drill bit to make the hole and then widen it to the matched drill bit. Fix the metal cylinder on the lathe machine such that one flat end of the piece is facing the drill bit. Turn on the lathe machine.
Drill a hole into the cylindrical piece. Widen and deepen the hole as per your requirement. The hole should be such that a little over half the bolt should be screwed in. Turn off the lathe machine and clean off the hole and remove any metal shavings. Screw in the screw bolt using a screwdriver.
Take a hand axe saw and cut off the head of the screw bolt such that about 0.5cm of the bolt is still sticking out of the cylinder. Turn on the lathe machine. Sand off the screw bolt to smoothness. This step can also be done using a sander without using the lathe machine.
Turn off the lathe machine. Screw-in the conical metal piece to the screw bolts such that the pointed end is on the outside. Make sure it is tightened. Turn on the lathe machine Turn and sand off the conical metal piece if required. Turn the cylindrical metal piece and the conical piece for a smooth finish. Make the pointed end sharp. Turn off the lathe machine. Take out the piece and attach the drill bit attached to the lathe machine. Drill an end to end hole into the piece. Turn off the lathe machine. Sand off the ends and clean off the metal shavings. Remove the finished piece.
Take a piece of nylon thread. Using a lighter, burn one end of the thread such that it becomes soft and can be shaped. Press down quickly on the softened portion of the thread to make it into a conical shape. Push in the conical end of the thread into the conical metal piece from the flat end. When the thread is through, make a knot so that it metal piece doesn’t fall off.
Your Plumb Bob is ready to use.
Steps To Use A Plumb Bob
Let us assume you have to fit the door of your walk-in closet correctly. The frames have already been added.
- Take some tape and the plumb bob.
- Place a ladder near the headboard and climb on it till you reach the top headboard piece.
- Take the plumb bob and suspend it via the string.
- Slowly release the string until it reaches the bottom.
- Wait for the string to stop moving.
- Take a piece of tape and fix the string of the plumb bob.
- Climb off the ladder and mark the spot where the plumb bob shows your true vertical or plumb.
- Repeat this procedure as many times as required.
Usage Of Plumb Bob
There are many uses to plumb bob. Whether you are a painter, a DIYer, or a professional job site worker, you can use the plumb bob to precise alignment. While the applications of the plumb bob are many, we will discuss the most common purposes.
- Checking the plumb or vertical: When the plumb bob is suspended from a surface like a pendulum, because of gravitational force, it points to the true vertical or ‘plumb.’ Think of this as an ancient compass that sailors used to find the true north.
- Matching the floor to ceiling points: During construction, for putting in load-bearing walls, the floor points need to match the ceiling points exactly. A plumb bob can easily be used for such purposes.
- Wallpaper hanging: The plumb bob can be used as an accurate reference line before applying the wallpaper. This is especially useful for walls with a height of more than ten feet.
- Painting: Artists often use the plumb bob on their canvases as a reference for vertical lines.
Tools You Would Need
Depending on what kind of Plumb bob you want to make, there are different tools that you would need.
For a simple DIY plumb bob, you would need the following things:
- A small Nail: Any nail can be used, whether a flat head or a Philips, a plain nail, or a bolt. Pick up any unused piece of nail lying in your garage.
- A piece of string or thread: While any string will work, there are a few things to be kept in mind. The string should be strong enough to hold the metal piece. We cannot use a sewing thread to hold a piece of brass. A thin nylon thread is the best recommendation.
- A heavy object: This heavy object can be anything that you can tie to a thread with. For more accuracy, a conical shaped metal object would be preferred. It would help in pointing the true ‘plumb’ or vertical.
- Hammer: Depending on the type of nail used, an appropriate hammer
Now for a more industrial purpose Plumb Bob, you would need a different set of tools. Here is the list.
- Lathe Machine: There are various lathe machines available. We do not recommend you buy a lathe machine to make this type of plumb bob. But if you already have one, you are good to go.
- Personal Protective Gear: This includes protective eyewear and anti-cut, anti-burn work gloves.
- Screw Bolt: Any type would do, but it should be a long one.
- Screwdriver: Any screwdriver would do. But make sure it matches the type of your screw bolt.
- Drill Bits and cutters for turning: Match the drill bits to the thickness of the screw bolt. The turning cutters are attachments that come with the lathe machine.
- Sander: a sander is a metal instrument that smoothens the surface of any metal.
- Hand Axe Saw: There are various axe saws available to cut metal. Use one with a toothed saw.
- Nylon Thread: The nylon thread should be strong enough to withhold the metal cylinder and cone. It should be long enough as per your requirement.
- A lighter or burner: Easily available, a lighter is an optional tool. If your nylon thread is thin enough, you do not need this.
- Two heavy metal pieces, one cylindrical and one conical: These will form the bob part of the plumb bob. Use any metal you have in your garage. Brass is preferable.
- Use a strong thread to hold the plumb bob. A nylon thread is a preferable one.
- For the heavy conical object, use a brass one as it has a long life and durability.
- Make sure the length of the string is long enough to suit your purpose. Tying multiple strings together will affect the accuracy of the plumb bob.
1. Are plumb bob and plumb line different tools?
No. Plumb bob and Plumb line is the same tool. It is used to point the true vertical. It is also known as a bob.
2. What kind of string and object should I use for my plumb bob?
You can use any string as long as it can hold the object that you would be attaching at the end of it. Nylon strings have adequate strength. As for the heavy object, you can use anything heavy. But a metal object, especially a brass one, would be recommended.
Plumb Bob is quick and easy to use solution for any application. Whether you want to fix the wallpaper in your home, or hanging things from the ceiling to the exact spot, or just finding the true vertical, plumb bob can cater to all your needs.
We hope that this article has given you enough knowledge how to make and use plumb bob.