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For the deck or fence builder: a sure way to get all the post tops even.

For the deck or fence builder: a sure way to get all the post tops even

Water seeks its own level, whether it's in a lake or a mud puddle or a hose. Use this law of nature to your advantage for those infrequent back-yard projects when a level surface is important--building a deck or foundation, or aligning the tops of fence posts.

For about $4, you can turn a common garden hose into a water level. And short lengths of clear tubing to each end; this lets you see the column of water inside. Then you can make sure that points located 100 feet apart (or as long as the hose can reach) are level with one another. Since the hose is flexible, it can run around corners, which is helpful if you are building a deck that wraps around a house. Starting at one location, you can use this technique to make all ledger beams level and to mark the cut-off point for posts that will support beams, even if they rise from piers set in uneven ground. You'll need to buy both male and female hose repair ends (about $1 each) like those shown above. Also buy 2 feet of clear plastic tubing with a 1/2-inch interior diameter (about 75 cents a foot).

Cut the tubing into 1-foot lengths and slip one end over each of the hose repair ends. Crimp the outside barbs to hold the tubing in place and make a watertight seal.

Thread the tubes onto both ends of the hose. Fill it completely with water so all air bubbles are removed and the water is visible in the tubing. Hold the tubing ends together vertically, and check for leaks-- you may have to install hose washers to stop any water loss.

You'll need a helper to hold one end at a reference point to which everything will be level. He holds the hose so the top of the water column will align with the reference point, while you move to the other locations and mark the points for cutting or aligning. When moving around, hold your thumbs over the tubing, or insert corks. This will prevent water from pouring out of either end if the hose is raised or lowered too much.

When you reach the points to be marked, remove the corks or your thumbs, and let water shift until it settles in the tubing. Both ends will be level, but you may have to raise or lower them simultaneously until the water line aligns with the reference point. When the water movement has stopped, you can mark the post or wall.

For posts that are in a straight line, start at the first one and go directly to the last one. Snap a chalk line to mark posts in between.

Photo: Water level in plastic tube shows where to cut support post so it's level with rear girder

Photo: Columns of water are visible and level in both pieces of tubing mounted to hose; mark that level on board or post
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1988
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