A level without a level is like a ship without a rudder. You may be able to move forward, but you’ll never really know where you’re going. The same is true of life. Without a sense of direction, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Many people ask me how I was able to progress so quickly in my career without any formal education or training. The answer is simple: I applied the principles of “leveling without a level.” Don’t have a level handy? No problem! With a few simple tricks, you can level just about anything without one. Read on to learn how.
Is It Possible to Level Things Accurately Without a Level?
There’s no denying that levels are one of the most essential tools for any DIYer or professional contractor. But what happens when you don’t have a level handy? Can you still level things accurately without one?
The short answer is, yes! Although it might take a little bit more time and effort, it is possible to level things without a level. Here are a few tips on how to do it:
- Use a long, straight object like a ruler or a yardstick to determine whether something is level. Place the object on top of whatever you’re trying to level and see if it’s balanced evenly.
- If you don’t have anything long and straight, you can also use a string or a cord. Simply stretch it out along the surface you’re trying to level and see if it’s sagging in the middle. If so, then the surface isn’t level.
- Another option is to use water. Pour some water onto the surface you’re trying to level and see if it pools evenly. If not, then the surface isn’t level.
While these methods aren’t as foolproof as using a level, they can still help you get pretty close! So next time you find yourself without a level, don’t panic – just try one of these tips instead.
6 Best Ways to Level Without a Level
There are a variety of reasons why you might need to level without a level. Maybe you’re trying to avoid pesky laser leveling fees, or maybe you misplaced your level and can’t find it anywhere. Whatever the reason, there are a few ways that you can get the job done without one.
- Use a tape measure: This is probably the easiest way to level without a level. Simply measure the distance from the ground to the top of whatever it is you’re trying to level (a post, a fence, etc.), and mark it on the tape measure. Then, measure the distance from the ground to the top of whatever it is you’re using as a reference point (another post, another fence, etc.), and mark it on the tape measure as well. The difference between these two measurements is your leveling factor.
- Use a string: This method is similar to using a tape measure, but instead of marking on a tape measure, you’ll mark on a string. Measure the distance from the ground to the top of whatever it is you’re trying to level, and tie a knot in the string at that point. Then, measure the distance from the ground to the top of your reference point, and tie another knot in the string at that point. The difference between these two knots is your leveling factor.
- Use an object: This method is best if you have something long and straight that you can use as a reference point, like a 2×4 or a ruler. Place one end of your object at the ground next to whatever it is you’re trying to level, and then hold up the other end until it’s level with the top of what you’re trying to level. The length of your object minus the length of what you’re trying to level is your leveling factor.
- Use your own body: If you don’t have anything else handy that you can use as a reference point, then you can use your own body! Simply stand next to whatever it is you’re trying to level, and raise or lower yourself until your eyes are level with the top of what you’re trying to level. The difference between your height and the height of what you’re trying to level is your leveling factor.
Use a Round Object
Place a round object, like a can of soup, on the surface you want to level. If the can rolls, the surface is not level.
Use a Square
If you don’t have a level but want to find out if something is level, use a square. A level is simply a tool that helps you determine whether or not something is level. You can use other objects to help you determine this as well.
A square is a great tool to use because it has four equal sides. This means that if you place it on something, two of the sides will be touching the surface while the other two will be in the air. If the square is level, all four sides will be touching the surface evenly.
You can also use a piece of string or a ruler to help you determine if something is level. Simply lay the string or ruler down on the surface and see if it rests evenly on all points. If it does, then the surface is level!
Use a Water Bottle with Water
If you don’t have a level, you can use a water bottle with water in it. Place the water bottle on the ground, and then mark the level of the water with a pen or pencil. Then, measure the distance from the ground to the mark. This will give you an estimate of how level your surface is.
Use Your Smartphone
If you don’t have a level handy, no need to worry — your smartphone can help. With a few simple apps, your phone can turn into a makeshift level, helping you make sure everything is nice and level.
First, open up the App Store (on an iPhone) or Google Play Store (on Android) and type “level” into the search bar. A number of different apps will pop up; for our purposes, any of them will work just fine. Once you’ve downloaded and opened the app of your choice, hold your phone parallel to the surface you’re trying to level.
If the app shows a green line, that means the surface is level. If it’s red, the surface is slanted; if it’s yellow, it’s very close to being level. Adjust accordingly and check again until the app reads green. And that’s all there is to it! Now you can go about your business confident that everything is nice and straight.
Use an Old Hose with Water
If you don’t have a level, you can still level your surface using an old hose with water. Just fill the hose with water and place it on the surface you want to level. The water in the hose will settle into a perfectly level line. You can use this line to check whether your surface is level or not.
Measure from a Reference Point
If you don’t have a level, you can still measure how level something is by using a reference point. First, find a straight edge or string to use as your reference. Place one end of the reference at the highest point of the object you’re measuring, then make a mark at the lowest point. Use a tape measure or ruler to measure the distance between the two marks, then divide by 2 to find the center point.
Even without a level, you can still get your project perfectly level. Here are a few tips on how to do it:
- Use a long, straight object like a ruler or a string to find the highest and lowest points.
- Mark these points with a pencil.
- Find the halfway point between the marks and make another mark. This is your level line.
- Use a spirit level or another long, straight object to check that your line is level.
- If it’s not, adjust it until it is.
- Once you have your level line, use it as a guide for where to put your leveling sand or shims.