Restoring a spirit level

This spirit level was black and grimy, the original finish on the wood was decaying and sticky to the touch. It belonged to my father in-law and possibly originally belonged to his father in law. It had been sitting in a box of tools and junk in a garage for over ten years. It had been well used and had obviously been knocking around in a tool bag with other tools as the wood had plenty of knocks a bumps as well as some old paint on one end. It was almost thrown out with the junk.

Having seen the remarkable restorations of old musical instruments on Rosa String Works YouTube Site, I was inspired to see if the spirit level could be restored. After all this would be an easy job compared to fixing a musical instrument.

I carefully disassembled it removing the top plate and the two brass feet. I then cleaned all the debris off the pieces. For the wooden parts I used 180 grit sand paper to remove the old damaged coating, then smoothed the sides and the base with 320 grit sand paper. I cleaned the brass top plate and feet I with Brasso and for the stubborn corrosion a small piece of 800 grit wet and dry paper.

Once cleaned up and reassembled I coated the wood with teak oil to bring the wood back to life and provide it some protection. The restoration is not quite complete, I need to find a replacement for a missing screw in the top plate, and it needs a couple more coats of the teak oil. 

The horizontal level works fine and didn’t require any adjustment, although the vertical level doesn’t appear to have a mark to centre the bubble, but that could be fixed. Despite this, it is once more a serviceable tool, and is a much more attractive device than a modern plastic level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.