September 1, 2010

Bosch GLL2-80 Laser Level - Reader Review (Adam B.)

...and here's the second of our Bosch Laser Level reviews. This time around, Reader Adam B. discovers a few ups and downs with the tool (mostly ups)...

bosch_laser_AB.jpgIt wasn't terribly long ago that a crafty engineer thought, "I can build tools with frickin' laser beams!" Since then, there have been a plethora of tools ranging from useless (laser guided scissors, anyone?) to "How did we ever manage without these things?" Laser levels are a shining example of the latter. I have used a number of them myself, ranging from $15 "Is my picture straight" levels to Hilti cross-hair and rotary levels. Such levels have proved indispensible on job sites, particularly when restoring homes built over one hundred years ago. Thus, I was very excited to find a shiny Bosch GLL-80 sitting on my doorstep.

The Design
The Bosch level fires two lasers onto reflective cones, which then paint two perpendicular 360 degree lines around the room. I was initially concerned with how well the lines would be defined after being split by the cones, but they are easily comparable to any other cross-hair laser. The controls are fairly intuitive, with one caveat: The power switch requires one flick to turn on the laser, and another to unlock the self-leveling pendulum. Failing to flick it twice means that the lines will not be level. The pendulum was rather quick to level out, though, and I found it to be very accurate.

bosch_laser_AB1.jpgPutting it to Use
I used the laser to do a number of projects, including framing walls, hanging cabinets, and laying tile. The beauty of the 360 degree system is easy to miss at first glance; While traditional lasers required that I set up in a corner to maximize it's reach , I could set the Bosch up wherever it was convenient. Thus the placement of the laser requires almost no thought. A clever bonus of the 360 degree design is that the vertical cone sits in front of the main housing as well as a couple of inches off of the floor. This means that I could install a bottom plate, set the front feet of the laser anywhere against it, and I had a perfect line laying out my top plate placement. While I did not have many opportunities to use the horizontal beam (other than as a cross-hair), it is incredibly well-suited for applications such as leveling floors or installing drop-ceilings.

Is it worth It?
While you can find decent lasers at a slightly lower price, the added functionality and ease of use makes the laser well worth the price tag. I did have a few minor complaints: The out-of-level beep was rather obnoxious (I would have preferred that it defaulted to "off," since the flashing beam already let me know it was out). While the stand makes it easy to fine-tune the horizontal beam, the swivel base does not lock, meaning that the vertical beam is easily bumped out of position. Even with these slight issues, I would give the GLL-80 a 9 out of 10. If anything happened to this one, I would probably find myself purchasing another-- It's hard to go back to a simple cross-hair after having two solid frickin' laser beams shooting the entire way around the room.


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Posted by Doug Mahoney at September 1, 2010 5:00 AM
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