Make a mental image for “spirit level”, and half of us are already thinking about bricklaying. Of all the trades, it’s arguably the one that – to the observer – looks the most like magic as the bricklayer puts together well over 500 perfectly-aligned and supremely-levelled bricks in a busy day. And the best of the best can handle hundreds of bricks in a single hour.
But it’s not just the sheer number of bricks that a bricklayer can put together in a session, it’s the fact that every single one of them simply must be perfectly level. Just one wayward brick can throw out an entire wall. It’s no surprise, therefore, that bricklayers are more than a little fussy about knowing how to separate spirit levels that are up to the task versus the ones to avoid.
Technically, every analogue spirit level is based on a very simple principle – and it’s why you’ll find plenty of brickies who refer to their favourite ‘bubble level’. The idea dates back to the Roman Empire, when the ‘agrimensores’ – early land surveyors – checked on those bubbles in the first, 30-foot spirit levels. And while the Romans used water, the modern liquid is an oil or alcohol – or ‘spirit’. Suspended in that spirit is a bubble, which – when the device is perfectly level – sits at the exact middle point. And even the slightest inclination will move the bubble from dead centre, prompting an adjustment by the user.
So what’s the talk of the town among the bricklayers as they head into a busy 2023 on the work sites? What innovations and clever spirit level features are the most professional bricklayers raving about?:
1. Coloured vials
Where the spirit and bubble is housed is called the vial – and they’re getting colourful these days. Some of the best are lit up with LED lights, putting that bubble in a neon spotlight that bricklayers can see in the dimmest of conditions.
2. Rotating vials
While it’s likely that the bricklayer’s go-to favourite spirit level might be up to several feet long, they might just have one handy in their pocket at other times. The best pocket spirit levels are impressively compact, but with that small size comes a sizeable limitation – little room for multiple vials. You need those multiple vials to check for both horizontal (level) and vertical (plumb) levels, but with a modern pocket level you don’t have to go without. Rather, just rotate a fully-lockable single vial to cover both 90-degree trajectories – or even dial in your own custom angle.
3. Cut-out vials
It’s no surprise that innovations to the vial itself that are making all the headlines. That’s because, apart from varying materials, sizes, styles, quality levels and certain cool features like magnetism, the non-vial remainder of the tool is relatively standard. So the third vial innovation that has caught our attention is a body cut-out that enables the vial to be seen simultaneously from both the top and the side – making plumbing vertical elements unprecedentedly fast and simple.
4. Laser line
Finally, the ultra-modern bricklayer may just have a spirit level that features – you guessed it – a laser! The beam shoots out from the end of the level so that after checking that bubble you can project a laser-accurate line to work upon. In 2023, the sci-fi future of spirit levels really is here.
As you can tell, it’s a full, innovative and impressive 2023 range of spirit levels for the bricklayer and all other tradespeople, organisations and professionals to choose from. Need a little help ensuring the level you grab is the absolute best and state-of-the-art performer for your site’s daily tasks? Our helpful industry guides at RS would be delighted to point you in the perfectly-levelled direction!