Practical alignment tools around the home

March, 2013 by

To reduce down-time in a piece of machinery and to reduce wear, misalignment must be kept to a minimum. In industry, major pieces of equipment are kept in alignment as a part of the routine maintenance programs. However, in industry or around the home, the most used alignment tool in San Antonio is the spirit level.

There are a number of simple tools used to check and maintain alignment and to make sure they are straight, flat, level, plumb and square.

It all depends on the required accuracy as to how these measurements are taken and how big the device being measured may be. The greatest majority of alignments checks can be taken with very basic tools, they are:

* A machinist’s precision level

* A long straight edge, preferably eight feet

* A box level

* A set of feeler gauges

Machinist’s precision level:

This piece of equipment is by far the most important. A carpenter’s level, although functional for construction, is not accurate enough when aligning anything. Machinist’s levels are calibrated on the vial so that it is possible to be quite accurate when reading within these divisions. Each division on the vial equates to 0.005″ per foot in slope. This is more than enough for use around the home but if more accurate levels are to be taken, machinists levels are available that allow for the distinguishing of 0.0005″ per foot.

The beauty of using an accurate machinist’s level is that the thickness of a shim required to improve the level can easily be calculated. For example, if the vial reading is 0.010” and the thing being leveled is 18” wide, then it is easy to determine that a shim of 0.015” is required.

The straight edge:

Another important alignment tool San Antonio is a long aluminum straight edge. This straight edge is usually a machined I-beam type section and in conjunction with the machinists level can be used to check the elevation of an object. If you have something in your home where there are three objects that are all supposed to be level, by putting the straight edge across them and with feeler gauges you can easily determine if one of the three is high or low.

Box level or Sine Bar:

Either one of these devices is used to determine if something is plumb or not. These devices also have divisions marked on the vial and the same calculations can be made to ensure that an object is exactly plumb and at right angles.

These are all rather simple devices used for simple jobs. In the real world of industry, much more complex equipment is used to assure perfect alignment.


When major pieces of equipment are being installed, an alignment tool in San Antonio such as a laser is used to insure perfect installation. This service is available from Laser Precision in Fort Worth.