Simple Water Level
You Can Make Your Own
Simple tools were often the easiest to make on the ranch. Many of the daily tools we have now a crafty pioneer adapted from a similar tool he had seen at another ranch, a mercantile, or even adapted from Native Americans.
Using the simple concept of water always finding its own level due to gravity, this water level is something you can make and use today.
Consider that you need to find a level piece of ground for pouring a cement slab or a new patio, a water level can help in long runs where a string level might not work as well. String levels tend to sag over long distances.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
25-foot garden hose
2 wooden flat garden stakes
a ruler and felt-tipped marker
36 inches of 5/8-inch clear plastic tubing, cut in half (18” long)
2 adaptable hose ends with 5/8-inch hose clamps
PREPPING THE STAKES
Take two wooden stakes and holding them with points upward, allow about 6-8 inches of room before marking lines. Then by using a felt marker and a ruler, measure off one inch increments on the flat sides of each stake upward from that first mark. You don’t want to use the pointed ends on the ground or the measurement will be off. Compare your stakes to be sure they match.
PREPPING THE HOSE ENDS
Both stakes will be fitted with hose ends attached at the base of each stake. One male and one female. This will allow a standard 5/8-inch garden hose to be filled with enough water to show level when held upright. Actually, you can use larger hose lengths or hose diameters. I just chose a standard 5/8th size to start.
ADDING THE TUBES
Take the clear plastic viewing tubes, such as the type for evaporative coolers. For this tool, 5/8-inch thickness will work. Use duct tape or Mylar clear tape and position the two tube ends with hose adapters and hose clamps to the base of the garden hose ends. Wrap the garden hose ends securely to the stakes with duct tape. Be sure to anchor the hose well enough so it doesn’t shift on the stake. (See photo for detail)
ADDING THE WATER
Pour enough water to fill the garden hose so that, when both stakes are upright, you can see water standing in the clear viewing tubes. Adjust for best viewing, not too full. This tool is so forgiving that you can use long hoses, just be sure the hose is full without trapped air in it.
USING YOUR SIMPLE WATER LEVEL
With one person at each end of the level, lay out the garden hose flat. You can place it in a serpent style pattern on the ground, but don’t let it lay over any part of the hose. By taking measurements around your work area, you’ll see what soil will need to be moved to bring the ground level. Watch the water levels at the inch mark and you’ll see how much difference the ground is to a natural level.
Adjust several times as you work and measure again. Once you have the concept working, you’ll adjust until both viewing tubes are showing the same leveled mark. I’m not sure of the earliest use of this invention, but it may go as far back as the Egyptians measuring their pyramids.