How to Make a Water (Spirit) Level

How to Make a Water (Spirit) Level

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A water level, also known as a spirit level or a bubble level, is a very useful tool that is often used in construction and renovation projects to ensure that surfaces are completely flat and level.

That being said, if you’re in the middle of a project and you don’t have this tool on hand, don’t worry because you can make your own. After all, this tool uses just some simple physics principles that can easily be replicated with things you might already have at home or on your jobsite.

Are There Any Advantages of Homemade Spirit Levels over Store-Bought?

What you might be wondering here is why exactly you would even attempt to make your own homemade spirit level rather than just buy one from the store. Well, the obvious reason is, of course, if you don’t have one on hand and you don’t have time to go buy one. There is also of course also the fact that if you have the materials laying around, then making one on your own is totally free. Simply put, if you could build your own spirit level for free, why would you pay for one? Remember that the more advanced products out there can cost hundreds of dollars.

Some people will also say that homemade spirit levels are much more accurate in leveling surfaces over long distances, although this does of course depend on the quality of the build.  Of course, if you expect your DIY spirit level to function properly, it does need to be built right.

What we think is that if you don’t want to spend any money or you are in a pinch and you need a bubble level right away, then it is definitely worth it to make your own. After all, it is essentially just a housing that contains water and an air bubble. However, if you are a contractor or anybody who does construction on a daily basis, then you might want to invest a few bucks in a real store-bought bubble level.

Either way, making your own bubble level is a cool little DIY project, so let’s get on with it.

How to Make a Water Level: A Few Different Ways

The fact of the matter is that you can make a water level out of many different items that you probably have laying around your home. Indeed, there are many different DIY water levels that you can make with random things laying around your house. Let’s take a look at some of the most common and easiest ways to make your own DIY water level at home.

What we want to stress here is that essentially a bubble level is really just a tube that contains a liquid which could be water, but could also be olive oil or anything else of this sort, with a small space in it for an air bubble. As you could imagine, filling a tube with water and leaving a small space for an air bubble is probably not all that difficult.

Method #1: Using Two Pins and a Straw

Perhaps the easiest way to make your own spirit level is to use two pins and a straw. By pins, we are referring to thumbtacks, those little tacks you used to pin pieces of paper up to boards and walls.

To make a bubble level with these materials, all you need to do is to push one of the pins into one end of the straw so that it is waterproof (if need be, you can use some super glue to make a waterproof seal). Then, simply fill the straw with water almost to the top, leaving just enough space for an air bubble, so maybe a half-inch (not too much!).

All you need to do now is to put the other pin in the other end and make sure that it is also watertight. There you have it, a DIY bubble level made with two pins or tacks, a straw, and a bit of water. Keep in mind that it does not have to be water. Virtually any liquid will work just fine.

Method #2: Using a Hose

Although the above method is very easy, there is an even easier method. To make your own bubble level, all you have to do is to take a hose, preferably one that is transparent so you can see through it, and fill it with some water.

Due to the way in which gravity and water pressure work, when you lift up both ends of the hose, the water level within the hose will always be the same at both ends. Even if you hold one end of the hose up three feet higher than the other end, the water level will still be the same on both sides.

Therefore, to level something, all you have to do is hold up both ends of the hose over the thing being leveled. Make sure that the water level on one side of the hose is at the same height as the item being leveled, and then compare the water level on the other side. Since the water level in both ends of the hose always matches, it makes for a perfect bubble level.

Method #3: Using Your Smartphone

OK, so making your own bubble level is very easy and maybe even a bit of fun, but that said, it’s not totally necessary. The fact of the matter is that smartphones are super cool and technologically advanced these days.

Yes, what we were saying is that there are applications that you can download for free to do the job. In other words, all you have to do is download a bubble level app on your phone. It really doesn’t get much easier than that.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

Lastly, let’s go over a couple of tips to keep in mind when using the methods above:

  • Remember that any liquid will do just fine, as long as it is thin enough to move freely inside of the tube or item it is contained within
  • If you want to make a bubble level that you can use repeatedly, we recommend going with either method one or three
  • Don’t leave too much air inside of your DIY level; If you leave too much air inside of it, the level will not be effective


There you have it people, two DIY bubble levels, and a third “cheat” method.

The bottom line is that if you don’t have a store-bought spirit level on hand, you can make your own. Remember, it’s really just a tube with water and an air bubble.