Tools & Workshop

Radio: Plumb Bob

A plumb bob is an amazingly simple tool, basically just a pointed weight on a string. But whether you're putting up a new wall, hanging a door, or wallpapering a room, this little tool can be a mighty big help.

Listen to ON PLUMB BOB or read the text below:

A plumb bob may seem like it does nothing except hang, but while it's hanging it's using gravity to show you a perfectly vertical line. That's why the weight should be heavy, well balanced, and pointed at the bottom. That allows the weight to pull the string taut and create your vertical line.

To use a plumb bob, attach the string at a starting point and let the weight swing free. When it stops, the line is vertical. You can use that line for jobs like putting up the first panel of wallpaper, which is especially handy for old houses that are not exactly square any more. Or if you're installing a flooring pattern that you want centered under a light fixture, hang the plump bob from the middle of the fixture to establish the exact center point for your floor. And when you're using a plumb bob, you're taking your place in history, since it's a tool that goes back to the ancient egyptians, who used them to help build the pyramids.

Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to-or reading-Bob's 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

For more on tools, consider:

Laser Level
Tin Snips