Square, level, and plumb

First off, I am nowhere near the league of most of you here. I've puttered around since about 1970, made a couple of pieces of colonial furniture out of pine, turned a few bowls, etc. I was transferred in 1984 to a house that didn't really have room for a shop, even though I took the tools with me. Transferred again in '88 to a place with a 1,200 square foot 5 1/2 car garage. Beautiful.
Well, one thing led to another, I never set up the shop, I retired in '92, started my own business, yada, yada, yada... Just in the last couple of months I have cleaned out half the garage and set up my shop.
All of which is just background to the subject of this post.
I've started doing very simple things to get back the feel of using power tools and I've been reminded of how much trouble I have keeping things square, plumb, and level.
I have the right tools. I understand the geometry. But sometimes things just don't work out.
Case in point.
I have a 36" chalkboard in my shop. I made a pair of legs out of 6' 2.4s each of which forms a "T" with a short piece of 2x4. Under the Ts I have casters so I can move the thing around. The chalkboard is screwed to the legs flush to the top edge.
So far, so good.
Last night I realized I have a white board sitting around unused, so I decided to mount it on the other side of the legs, giving me a two-sided easel. The white board is shorter than the chalkboard, so I mounted it a few inches lower than the top edge of the legs.
I clamped a 1x2 scab at the height I wanted the bottom of the board, got out my shiny new Craftsman laser level with digital readout, and leveled the scab to dead level. I set the white board on the scab and screwed it into place. When I stepped back to look at it, it was crooked. There was definitely more leg showing above one side than the other.
Took it all down, did it again, same result.
To make a long story short, I finally realized that the entire apparatus was sitting near a floor drain and the floor at that point slopes toward the drain. I had leveled the board to the horizon, but not to the frame it was attached to. I had never noticed with the chalkboard because it was mounted flush with the top of the legs.
I'd have been better off just marking six inches down from the top and mounting the white board accordingly. I'm leaving it crooked as a reminder about making assumptions when working on projects.
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RE: Subject
Remember the 3-4-5 right triangle (3^2 + 4^2 = 5^2.).
It is a good way to insure a square 90 degree corner.
As an example:
Measure 30" along one edge and mark, 40" along the adjacent edge and mark, then adjust edges until the measurement between the marks (along the diagonal) is 50".
Another technique is to insure the diagonals of a retangular piecem are equal.
Have fun.
Lew
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And if two lines are parallel, a line perpendicular to one must be perpendicular to the other. If three corners are square, the fourth must be square, etc.
Like I said, I know the geometry, but sometimes it seems like the laws of the universe are temporarily suspended just to mess with me. The source of the problem with the white board was more mundane, but there have been times I've tried to square up a simple box and given up in frustration.
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"Richard Evans" wrote:

Repeating with a clean copy from previous post:

It definitely solves your problem.
Sorry for the previous spelling problem.
Lew
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YES! YES! That's exactly what I'm talking about.
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He does. They're called bamboo and they masquerade under the illusion that they're a type of grass. :)
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wrote:

Richard, did the time of day (i.e. late evening, just about or slightly after bedtime) have anything to do with the laws of the known universe going slightly askew??
Real woodworkers wouldn't consume anything stronger than buttermilk. . . . . . .
Flash
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Another set of numbers 5 12 13
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Use a level when building a room or a permanent fixture, not a movable object.
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Here's a rule of thumb that may help. Things that are permanently fastended to the world are built level and/or plumb. Things that move around are built square using only itself as a reference. Several years ago, a contractor was erecting a steel building on a river barge for us. This barge was roughly 195' X 35', so it's sort of easy to forget your're floating. As each vertical post was installed, he carefully plumbed it. But when he tried to connect the horizontal members, they wouldn't fit. All of his posts were out of plumb because the forklift he used to set the posts upright caused the barge to list - first to one side, then the other. Only when he started building square to the barge instead of level and plumb was he able to make things work.
DonkeyHody "Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him". - Thomas Carlyle
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Richard Evans wrote:

Last fall I built a large builtin storage cabinet, in our sunroom, previous owner had enclosed a back deck, which sloped to let the rain run off. I hired out getting new windows and siding put on for the exterior, but wanted to do the interior myself. Anyway...
As the floor sloped, I just used a level for the top pieces, adjusted clamps for the supporting pieces for the pre-squared top rectangle until it showed level, then made my marks and cuts. It turned out perfect
--
Froz...

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Yabbut you knew it sloped and planned accordingly. I was assuming I was working on the level and couldnt figure out why the end result was crooked.
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Richard Evans wrote:

That is where your assumptions were wrong. A floor is never flat or level. Walls are never plumb and nothing is square. If that is your initial assumption, then you would have been working in the right direction to begin with.
Case in point; I was installing cabinets at one of my jobs and while checking to see how square and plumb a corner was, I discovered that it was square! A first at this site. I went and got the homeowner, showed him the square corner and asked him if he wanted to leave it that way or should I make it like all the rest? We all had a good laugh and then went back to work.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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LOL.. that's funny. But, I did a check for squareness at countertop level once.. and it was right on. At baseboard level it was out 3 degrees- and at ceiling height, it was 5 degrees+. They HAD to have TRIED to do that.
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I remember years ago installing shelves along the full length of a wall in my first house. This was an old brick rowhouse built shortly after the civil war, and both the floors and ceilings sagged quite a bit though they were still sound. I used a level to install the shelves and theylooked like crap when finished. I took off all the brackets and reinstalled by eye, splitting the difference between the "natural" curvature of the floor and ceiling, and they looked just right!
So, sometimes, even "square, level, and plumb" is not the right answer.
--
Better to be stuck up in a tree than tied to one.

Larry Wasserman - Baltimore Maryland - lwasserm(a)sdf. lonestar.org
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Larry W wrote:

My personal favorite is doors. Take a door at the end of a hallway where the trim is almost touching the adjacent wall. If it is an inch away from the wall at the top and almost touching at the bottom, I just hate it. I have done all sorts of tricks to minimize the difference without setting the door out of level (much).
You have to work with what you got.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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Robert Allison wrote:

It's right up there with landing an airplane in perfect conditions.
Every landing is unique, just like every installation and scribe...
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B A R R Y wrote:

That is what I try to explain to people when they ask me if it is boring work. It is never boring. Frustrating sometimes, but never boring.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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Robert Allison wrote:

_You_ understand! <G>
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