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The Importance of a Plumb Line

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The ancient tool that operates solely on gravity is still under-utilized by today’s craftsmen. The plumb line or plumb bob is mentioned repeatedly in the Old Testament of the Bible as a measure for what is right. It is not high tech nor flashy like the spinning lasers that have replaced the old water tube levels, but it still is a necessity for a professional appearance to the work.

Take this brick wall that can be seen on 23rd Street (78 Highway) in Independence. The bricklayer appears to have been fairly skilled and competent. He laid up the wall straight both vertically and horizontally. There is no doubt that a level on a string pulled tight was utilized to keep the rows truly horizontal and a hand held level constantly checked the verticality of the courses.

All went fairly well until the slope of the roof terminated the rise. The starting point of each course now shifted. Instead of cutting each starting brick and keeping the courses aligned vertically, the bricklayer used a full brick and let the joints land where they may.

A plumb bob should have been used to keep the joints vertical. Set an interior brick in the correct spot and then determine how much to trim off the end brick. Instead, a short cut was taken.

Perhaps I am the only that finds this disconcerting. I notice things, appreciate good work and wince at poor work that will stand for decades. The regular pattern of the lower bricks that gets lost into randomness at the top of the wall catches my attention every time I drive by.

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