‘Ceiling GPS’ Using an Ancient Tool

I wanted to move our 35 year-old wood stove out of the kitchen to paint it last weekend, and needed a way to ensure it went back into the same spot. Its stovepipe has to line up with the overhead stainless steel chimney and there’s little room for error. 

She sits on an old piece of 2” flagstone, with that resting on a 3’ x 4’ stove pad I was replacing with one of a slightly different size, so marking the floor wasn’t an option. Somewhere back in the deep, dark recesses, a neuron fired and I was reminded of one of the earliest tools man invented – and still a very handy one – ye olde plumb bob.

A Plumb Bob

Before moving anything, I used the bob to locate and lightly pencil a small x on the ceiling directly above each rear corner of the flagstone, and another one above each of the stove’s rear corners. This worked great to re-position it from above, hence the term “ceiling GPS”. (I know, it’s not a technically accurate name for it as we’re not triangulating anything here, but it sounds cool, doesn’t it?)

If you don’t have a plumb bob and don’t want to make one (it’s a good metal lathe project) or spend the few bucks they cost, an old fishing sinker, steel nut, dead cat, or any other weight on a string works, too. A plumb bob’s string is centered exactly above its point, though, so it’s very accurate.

Anyway, we were able to get the old girl back into her favorite spot, and she looks pretty happy wearing her two cans worth of 2000F flat black paint. I lit the first little Fall fire a couple of days ago, which always feels good, especially to Gracie the Wonder Dog, who resides in front of this stove nearly all winter! 

The Newly Painted Old Woodstove

Lining things up perfectly is easiest with two people, especially with a high ceiling, so next time I may try rigging up a hanging laser level, or possibly tiny screw eyes to attach the string to the ceiling…

Note: After replacing my bob’s aged and frazzled string with a couple of different types I had on hand, I ditched both and ended up using 6# test monofilament fishing line, at least until I can find something better. Both types of woven/twisted string I had here made the bob spin like crazy, making accuracy difficult. The fishing line works great, causing no spinning. 

PS – Just kidding about the dead cat. Mostly. 

Hope that’s helpful!

God bless,

John 14:6


About Dave Harnish

I've been an appliance repair tech since 1972, with interests in most everything, including Bible study (I'm one of those KJV-only geezers), old Sunbeam Mixmasters, Maytag wringer washers, the outdoors, birds, hunting, metalworking, firewood cutting, and most anything going on outside on our mountain here in N. PA's 'Endless Mountains'.
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