May '02: Built the setup form on our deck. The deck is at grade with 3 levels, each level a step (6-7") lower and I'm using most of it. Best I can tell the deck framing members rest on p.t. timbers on grade. I estimate the deck to be about 10 years old and I keep my fingers crossed settlement is complete. I did my best to level the whole thing with a 6 foot spirit level but over 20 feet it is difficult. When I set up the frames I found anywhere from 1/16" to 3/16" difference over the first 7 frames which are called to be dead flat. I think this has as much to do with the construction lumber as spirit level inaccuracy. I then got a hold of a builders (surveyors) level. These are very simple to use and I believe can be cheaply rented. The accuracy over very short distances (20-30 feet) is remarkable. Resting a combination square on the top of the frame bottom, while my wife made sure the frame was plumb, I could read the scale to the 64th of an inch. I then shimmed the frames to within a 32nd of true. If you use this technique it is imperative the frame is plumb and the scale is plumb for a true reading.
June '02: All frames plumb, level, square to the centerline, and at the proper set up level. Repeated measurements indicate the deck is a stable building platform (whew!).