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New Plumb Line Weights


A surprising insight into less is more.

For years, tungsten discs (which originally are cutting wheels for glass and ceramic tiles) have been the standard in plumb line weights for our Quadrants and thousands of them are in use worldwide.

Wndsn plumb line weights, old and new

Wndsn plumb line weights, old tungsten on the left and new stainless steel on the right.

Towards the end of 2023, a toxic mix of inflation and supply chain issues all of a sudden multiplied the sourcing costs and propelled them into prohibitive territory.

The original general design parameters for the use as plumb line weights were: as heavy as possible, while being as small as possible. The tungsten as a material was an added benefit, if only in theory, or from a material fetishism perspective.

Having to replace those weights led to extensive testing, trying out replacements but also revisiting the design parameters while exploring new ideas and dimensions.

One of the trial weights was an old telephone coin that comes in at about half the weight of the tungsten disc, ~5g vs 11g.

And surprisingly, it worked well as a plumb line weight, in fact, it worked even better than the heavy tungsten.

All those years, I had made it a habit to tame and calm that string when it would repeatedly bounce off of the degree scale, almost tipping the Quadrant over with all that weight of the tungsten.

Needless to say, the tungsten ultimately was too heavy to begin with.

As a result, we’re using ~4g stainless steel discs starting immediately, and all my personal instruments are converted already.

Try it for yourself. Less plumb line weight makes it easier to calm the string and leads to faster measurements. And hold onto those now valuable tungsten discs...

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