who are only interested in original factory made tools,
in new condition, are welcome to skip this story
There will be nothing for you here and you will probably
hate the final product, so save yourself the heartburn.
Some months back I got some old levels. One day a
young guy I know, just walked in and dumped them on me.
He was the latest recipient and didn't want them. I
originally 5 of them. Only one was so bad it had
to be stripped for parts. All were well used.
This is understatement. All were used in masonry
work until rendered unusable, and then repaired a few
times (by hasty means) and then used some more until
finally retired. For some reason the "old guy"
didn't throw them away!
Mangy, beat up old levels kept for at least 2 more
generations, and probably 3. I suspect the
original mason went on and on about how much he'd paid
for them new, and it just stuck.
The first thing I did, even though he never asked me,
was fix one up and make a bracket shelf to hold it on
the wall. Then I delivered it back to him.
When he saw it, he decided a grandpa keepsake was
probably acceptable after all. I am pretty
positive he didn't have any idea what was underneath the
guck, and would never think it could ever look like
that, compared to what he dropped off.
The others got some care and are lounging around. Some
still needing more repair to even be functional.
But there was one level. It was different. A bit
thinner in section so easier to carry, yet the same
overall length and capacity. Not only full
featured but an extra feature I'd never seen before.
Unfortunately the last repair before I go it, had
chopped up some of the wood and installed a vial plopped
into a piece of copper tubing in a 1/2 cup of plaster. Functional but ghastly ugly. Also a large ugly
hang hole was drilled. Not a polite 1/4" hang hole or
something. A roomy 1/2 incher, done with a dull
But I still liked it. It was still a level I really
wanted. So the first thing I did was scrape off a
1/4 pound of crud with a putty knife. I didn't
think to take a picture. I was still on the fence
whether it was a project I wanted to take on, or even
had a chance of success. Sorry about that.
When I got the first layer off and got the old vial
chopped back out, and decided I was going to save it
regardless. This is when I took the first picture.
Yes that's right. Its a Stratton Bros. fully brass bound
level. Just a little the worse for wear. It had
been very well loved.
I needed a vial and had one of course. I wouldn't
pass a broken level with one good vial left for
anything. Long as it under a dollar, that is. I
didn't want to have to set it into a cup of plaster
though. I had a vial carrier from an old Stanley.
Cast iron and adjustable when mounted. It was too
big for the Stratton Bro, but I would figure something.
One of the best things Stratton ever did, was use a
piece of brass with a bead on it to mark the center.
Nothing else works anywhere near so well as that.
You can see and read it plain, in almost any light at
I needed one of these, so I took of thin brass rod
(.032) and cut a piece of tubing for the bead. I
knew I couldn't work the tiny bead when it was already
cut, so I tapered the end of the tubing first, and also
taper ground a divot. Cutting the bead free was the last
step. Then I soldered it on.
I cleaned the vial holder, mixed some plaster and put it
together, adding my beaded wire.
Stanly had originally used a spring affair to mount
their adjustable vial holder. I used rubber. It
cushions the holder well, and I think it will hold the
adjustment. I had to excavate a bit more wood to