Spirit Level

The ability to obtain a measure of true horizontal (level) and vertical (plumb) surfaces is of pivotal importance to a bricklayer, both when laying bricks and as part of the setting-out process prior to construction.

Horizontal level and vertical plumb are obtained by using a spirit level, which has existed, in one form or another, since the seventeenth century. A spirit level comprises an elongated steel frame, lightweight aluminium box section or, sometimes, hardwood straight-edge, into which are fixed holders or ‘vials’. The vials contain short, sealed tubes of glass which have a slight radius to them. The tubes are almost completely filled with spirit but with sufficient air left inside to create a bubble that will sit centrally when the radius is aligned at the top. Most spirit levels will incorporate one longitudinal vial for horizontal levelling and one or two transverse vials, at the end/s, for vertical plumbing.

A spirit level is more than just an air bubble inside a tube of liquid; it is also an invaluable straight-edge for measuring the line, flatness and face plane of brickwork. It will provide a bricklayer with vital clues and information about how bricks are positioned and the extent and direction of any adjustment that may be needed.


Fig. 64 A selection of spirit levels.