Don’t the ancient structures dazzle you while you wonder how did those people build those perfect structures? They may have used the measuring instrument to get flawless horizontal objects, but what about the vertical things? How on earth they even built gigantic structures like bridges with precise vertical columns, whether those are wooden or of any material?
The answer lies within the ancient simple tool, plumb bob. Using the law of nature, this ordinary yet magnificent tool bestows you with the supreme vertical line to help you out with any elevated object. You may think only carpenter, mason, architect or civil engineer should have the tool, but even if you are a regular person, it won’t hurt to keep the best plumb bob within your arm’s reach.
In this post we'll cover:
- Plumb Bob buying guide
- Best Plumb Bobs reviewed
- What is A Plumb Bob?
- How to Use A Plumb Bob: A Step by Step Guide
- What does a plumb bob do?
Plumb Bob buying guide
A plumb bob provides the vertical reference identically as a chalk line provides the horizontal counterpart. Whether you have or don’t have any ideas about the specification of the plumb bobs, the following article is going to help you to know what you have to keep in mind before buying this tool.
Up to the present time, we have mainly two types of plumb bobs, one is the traditional type that comes with string and bob, and the other one is the laser type. Although traditional type tools are being used from ancient times, their basic structure didn’t change. Some additional services like string stabilizer, attaching magnets are provided with some tools nowadays.
The laser one is blessed with scientific advantage as it uses only laser light and gives you correct results on the vertical axis.
You may think that the weight of the bob doesn’t matter, but that’s not right. The heavier a bob is, the better it is. Since the bob needs to be steady after hanging to take the measurements, the heavier weight rests faster than the lighter weights. Although you can use a mild bob if you’re measuring small heights, you must need a heavier one to measure gigantic things.
Not only a bob must be heavier, but also a smaller one. Because accuracy, speed, and ease of use is the essential part of any tool. Though the earliest bobs were usually made from stone, bronze, and sometimes from bones and ivory, in the present brass and steel are mainly used.
Most of the time the brass bob is equipped with a steel tip as the magnetic material helps the bob to align with the center of the earth.
The shape of the bob needs to be symmetrical as the thread needs to be attached to the bob’s axis of symmetry and must have a pointed tip for accuracy. The bobs have mainly three basic types of shapes, naturalistic shape, geometric shape, and formal shape.
The naturalistic shape includes the shapes of pointed fruits and vegetables. The geometric shape includes the pointed hexagonal, cone and cylindrical shapes. And the formal bobs are also pointed bobs that become more stylistic by combining different shapes altogether.
As the tool is mainly the bob itself, you can say the longevity of the tool depends on the material. For example, if the bob is made with iron or steel, it can rust and erode faster than others. Provided strings are usually made of cotton and nylon, between two of them, the nylon thread is stronger and does not tangle like the cotton thread, ensuring a longer lifespan.
Some of the tools have safety features to secure the bob or the entire tool. Such as some bobs are equipped with any of the elastomer materials. Elastomer materials are those materials that have high elastic power, so if you try to change their shape to an extent, they will eventually go back to their previous shape. So wrapped with it, makes the bob secure.
To maintain the sharpness of the tips of the bobs, caps are provided sometimes. Some tools come with a protective case to secure the product and for storage purposes.
Though most of the manufacturers offer warranty features with their items, some don’t have the service. You don’t wanna buy a product if that has defects, do you? Even if you got a faulty product, the company providing warranty will change or fix the faults for free within the specific time of warranty.
Best Plumb Bobs reviewed
Searching the huge list to find the perfect tool to add to the plumbing toolbox is a time-consuming matter. We have sorted out some ideal plumb bobs up to the present as we care for your valuable time. It can help you to find the perfect bob that matches your desired criteria.
1. General Tools Plumb Bob
General Tool Manufacturer offers you traditional types of plumb bobs. You can choose from five different weights with two different materials and shapes, round brass and hexagonal nickel-plated steel. The lightest weight they offer is 5 ounces and the heaviest weight is 32 ounces. Their prices differ with their weights, the heavier the bob is, the costly it is.
Although the round brass bob is made of brass, it is equipped with a replaceable hardened steel point for accuracy. Unlike this one, the hexagonal bob is thoroughly made of steel and coated with nickel and its total steel body helps for accuracy.
This tool includes extra tips and a thin 3mm braided cord of 10 feet length. Also, to adjust and to replace the cord, the bob is equipped with a removable cap. The lengths of the bobs differ from 3 to 8 inches and widths not more than 2 inches according to their sizes.
Thin threads can tangle and split up easily. And placing the cord requires more work. In spite of being normal plumb bobs, they are quite expensive.
2. Tajima Plumb-Rite Plumb Bob
Along with a 14-ounce steel bob, this one is equipped with a plastic plumb bob holder. The holder is compact and fits comfortably in your hand, in addition to the advantage of ribbed eyelet that helps to set it on nails or studs while working.
To ensure safety, the Tajima Plumb-Rite plumb bob is wrapped with an elastomer material, which is capable of recovering its original shape after receiving any force. Additionally, a thick tip is given to protect the bob tip from losing sharpness. Being an automatic magnetic product, its thread can stop wavering within 6 seconds by its quick stabilizing cap.
A long thread of 14.5 feet is provided with the toolset and the total weight of the set is less than 2 pounds, making it more convenient to use. The product can fit in tight areas, helping you to be tension free about placing the setter.
This tool doesn’t come with any replaceable item, so once it becomes faulty, you need to buy another one. No warranty information is given for this product.
3. Swanson Tool Brass Plumb Bob
Swanson Tool Co., Inc offers you the simplest traditional plumb bob of 8 ounces which is made with solid brass. Although the bob is solid brass, the tip of it is made of hardened steel which can be easily removed and replaced with a new tip.
A removable cap is provided with the tool to easily adjust and replace the thread attached to it. The provided orange color thread is about twenty feet long, which is the longest length comparing to others on this list. And at the other edge of the string, a steel hook is provided to help the bob set on nails or studs and you can re-knot the string at either end.
The manufacturer warrants its products for one year from the date of purchasing. You can replace or repair the item if you find an item with defects. Moreover, this handy product is one of the cheapest bobs you can find anywhere.
A negative side of this cone-shaped bob is, it can slide and fall from a height. There is neither any safety feature to protect the tip nor an extra replaceable tip.
4. AWF PRO Plumb Bob Kit
Unlike the others on the list, this manufacturer provides you two plumb bobs with different weights, one is 8 ounces and the other is 16 ounces. Both of the bobs are made of solid brass and the tip of each bob is made of hardened steel. A total of 4 steel tips are provided and all of them can fit both bobs.
Each of the bobs is provided with the same sized replaceable cap. A 14 feet braided nylon cord is provided along with two carpenters pencils and a pencil sharpener. And all these things come with a protective tool case!
A retractable line reel is attached to the other end of the thread that has rare earth magnets to attach to steel or iron and a hanger to hang the reel on a screw or nail. The reel also works as a holding tool. And the total weight of the tool case is more than 2 pounds. Provided locking lever helps to lock the string at any height.
Rare earth magnets are weaker, so if they fall out, you won’t be able to attach it with steel or iron surface. Also, there is no warranty information about this product.
5. Rack-A-Tiers Magnetic Damping Laser Plumb Bob
Our latest plumb bob comes with a solid brass body and fascinating laser lighting. The laser works as the thread of traditional bobs. Having no thread means no need to worry about splitting. You don’t need to wait for stopping thread wavering as laser light will remain straight even in a windy place.
You can measure anything, anywhere, even an inclined ceiling and of course without defecting the surfaces, because you don’t need to put nails or anything to put up the strings. The main tool comes with the brass bob attached to a base, the bob is where the laser light is produced and the light goes straight up until anything blocks it.
The weight of this tool is around 2 pounds, which makes it a piece of cake to carry around. The height of the Rack-A-Tiers bob is about 6 inches and about 3 inches base diameter makes it smaller and you can put that inside the provided durable plastic bag and store easily.
Laser bob is way more expensive than others while being battery-operated, so you need to keep spending money. And the warranty on the tool is not provided.
What is A Plumb Bob?
If you don’t know what a plumb bob is, or have a little knowledge, let’s know what this tool is. The word ‘plumb’ means a thing is exactly vertical to the earth’s surface. And ‘bob’ means a weight that is used for any kind of experiment. So altogether, the word ‘plumb bob’ means a tool that is to find the perfectly vertical line or plumb-line to locate the nadir, the direction pointed directly below a top point.
You don’t need to be a science geek to understand that the center of gravity of an item aligns with the center of the earth, as a result, the line becomes completely vertical to the surface. This is the simplest way to find the desired plumb-line with the help of one of the simplest tools of all time.
How to Use A Plumb Bob: A Step by Step Guide
Plumb bob is one of the simplest tools to use. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to use one. The following few steps can help you to know how to use the traditional tool like a pro:
- Measure a few inches away from the top of the thing you want to measure, that can be a wall, a door or anything vertical.
- Mark the measured point.
- Set a nail in the center of the mark.
- Hang your traditional bob’s other end on the nail using the provided hook. The string gonna hover for few seconds and then stop oscillating.
- Mark the exact spot below the tip of the bob and measure the distance from the thing you are measuring.
- If the bottom measurement matches the previous top measurement, then congratulations! Your walls, doors are properly vertical.
For a laser tool, the stated steps won’t help you 100%, there’s a little difference. You need to set the laser bob at the bottom for the first measurement and the second measurement at the top part.
Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers.
What does a plumb bob do?
A plumb bob, or plummet, is a weight, usually with a pointed tip on the bottom, suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line, or plumb-line. It is a precursor to the spirit level and used to establish a vertical datum.
When would you use a plumb bob?
The plumb bob is useful in establishing vertical for a wall in construction or a doorjamb when hanging a door. A spirit level will also accomplish those tasks, but some jobs are much more easily done using the tool.
What can I use instead of a plumb bob?
Many chalk lines can be used as plumb-bobs as they are essentially a weight tied to a string. Some even have a pointed bottom to make accurate marking easier.
Why is there a hole in the tip of a plumb bob?
Weight. The weight or “bob” is the part of the plumb-bob that is suspended by the string. The weight is symmetrical for balance, and typically has a pointed end for accurate alignment. At the opposite end there is a hole for the string to be fed through and tied.
How do you attach a plumb bob?
To attach the cord to the plumb bob, thread it through the center hole until it projects into the cross channels. Using a pin or toothpick, bring the cord out of one of the cross channels and hold the tip of the cord near a flame until a small molten bulb forms at the end.
How do you plumb a straight line?
To make a plumb line, rub a string with colored chalk and tack it to the top of the wall. Then attach a plumb bob (or other small weight) to the loose end. Holding the bob where it falls naturally, pull the cord taut. Then pull it and let it go, snapping it against the wall.
What is a plumb bob made of?
Traditionally, plumb-bobs were made from stone, hardwood, lead, or bronze. Other models, which were usually reserved for decorative purposes only, were carved from bone or ivory.
How does plumb bob measure verticality?
The heavy weight will hang under gravity and offer a precise vertical line which is called plumb line. This method is applied for checking or controlling vertical line of structural elements especially indoors such as lift shaft. Added to that, it is used to control verticality of foundation, walls, and columns.
What is a plumb bob in the Sims?
The Plumbob (sometimes spelled differently — see below) is a green crystal used in most titles of The Sims series (including the MySims series) to identify the character selected and to which the player can give commands. It is also used to show the mood of playable Sims.
How do you make a plumb bob on a lathe?
What is plumb line method?
Drawing a line along the plumb line enables us to see the vertical line between the hanging point and the centre of the earth. … This is why we hang the shape at a different point and draw another line along the plumb line. The intersection of the two plumb lines is the object’s centre of gravity.
What is the plumb line posture?
The posture plumb line is an imaginary straight line from the top of the head to the floor. Perfect posture means our ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles stack up along this line. … However, we do need to watch for significant deviations from the plumb line such as: Cervical lordosis (forward head posture)
Q: Why can’t I use a bob that doesn’t have a pointed tip?
Ans: You can use a bob that doesn’t have a pointed tip, but the problem is with accuracy. You won’t be able to find the exact middle point of the bob if the tip is not pointed. This is why you should avoid a non-pointed product.
Q: How can I replace the string?
Ans: Every bob has a cap on it that the string is tied with. First, you need to untie the string from the cap, then untie the other end from hook or holder. Take a new string and tie both ends with the cap and the hook.
Q: Are batteries required to operate a plumb bob?
Ans: You don’t need any battery or other power to operate a traditional bob, it helps you in a naturalistic way. But the laser ones need batteries to produce the laser beam.
Q: Would a plumb bob work on an airplane to determine a level horizon?
Ans: The answer is no. stabilizing the bob is hard especially when it’s on an airplane. This makes it inaccurate for precision flight.
After going through the product review and buying guide section, you shouldn’t have any problem to find out which tool is the best plumb bob for you even if you are a noob or pro about the product.
But if are at a loss about what you need to buy, then we are gonna recommend the Tajima Plumb-Rite plumb bob. This tool comes with the advantages of elastomer material, a holder, and an automatic stabilizer. You won’t regret buying this one if you want to use the tool very often.
If spending more money is not a problem for you, then you should go for the Rack-A-Tiers magnetic damping plumb bob as it is comfier to use, and you can measure anything with it. But if you want to use the tool in rare cases, then buy Swanson Tool brass plumb bob cause it offers almost the same result at the cheapest price.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.