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The history of spirit levels

Hultafors - United Kingdom

No one knows how old spirit levels really are. However, it is known that the Romans used water filled tanks as primitive spirit levels when building their famous aqueducts.

By studying the water surface mode in the vessel, the Romans could determine if the base was completely flat or at an angle.

To find a more modern tool we need to travel to 1661 when the French scientist Melchisedech Thévenot invented the modern spirit level. Although, it took til the beginning of the 18th century before the invention spread.

For a long time though, many builders still preferred old bottles with water and used these as a sort of spirit level.

Nowadays, spirit levels do not contain water, but alcohol or oil.

The spirit level consists of a profile, a horizontal vial, one or two vertical vials and end caps.

There are spirit levels for a wide variety of purposes from building stairs and laying pipes, to applying tiles and checking that the caravan is standing straight. When selecting spirit levels, there are several important factors to consider, in addition to the main purpose.

More to explore ↓

Why length matters

The strength of the spirit level is determined by the shape and thickness of the profile, as well as the holes for the vials.

Learn more about the profile and end caps

5 facts about our vials

The fluid-filled containers that give you a level reading are called vials. The liquid in the vials is usually oil or alcohol so that the air bubble inside can move freely.

Learn more about the vital vials

Why sensitivity matters

The higher the sensitivity the more precise the spirit level is. This means that the bubble of a more precise spirit level reacts more when one end of the spirit level is lifted.

Learn more and watch our video

How accurate is your spirit level?

Manufacturing tolerance is the sum of all possible minor and microscopically small errors during production. Tolerance is thus the divergence from sensitivity, and the smaller the value the better.

Learn more and watch our video

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