Johnson Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser - Review
After the Big Bosch Laser Bonanza that we had going on a little bit ago, we thought we'd never want to write another word about laser levels. But we got to talking to the folks at Johnson Level and Tool and they suggested that we test out their new Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser. We had a bunch of projects coming up that would be perfect testing grounds and we were really impressed with their Laser Level and Angle Locator so we happily agreed.
Basically, the Johnson laser is a really stripped-down affair. It's about the size of a grapefruit and it has a single dial on the side. When the dial is clicked to off, the laser pendulum in the housing is locked in place so it won't get damaged during transport. When it's clicked on, the pendulum swings freely and projects a cross laser line (one on the X and one on the Y). There's no way to switch off one of the beams, so you're getting the cross whether you like it or not, and there are no alarms when it goes out of level (but the beam does shut off if it's too far out of level).
This isn't to say anything bad about the tool, just to explain that it's not a feature-laden one.
We compared the Johnson line to the Bosch Dual Plane laser and found that at about 5' the Bosch's line is just a whisker brighter. At around 15', the Johnson is also slightly thinner (which we actually see as a good thing). In the image, the vertical and the lower horizontal belong to the Johnson.
What we really liked about the Johnson laser are the accessories that come with it. Of these, the most important is the tripod. The level screws right on to it and there's a little crank that raises the level platform up and down. The crank isn't that smooth and it's tough to make micro adjustments, but with a little patience, it works. The tripod also has a little bubble level to ensure a level set-up. Having the ability to position the laser with the tripod far outweighs any issues with the tripod itself. It means that you can actually put the laser where you want it (particularly the horizontal) rather than being forced to use benchmarks and off-sets.
The tool also comes with a pair of red glasses which allow the user to not only look like a Tron extra, but also to see the laser lines in bright sunlight. You'll look foolish, but it's great that Johnson added them to the kit.
If you're a DIYer or a contractor looking for an inexpensive laser set-up, this one is definitely worth considering. It's not the most elaborate laser on the market, but when you consider all that you're getting, $100 is a really nice price.
Actually, we just saw that Amazon is selling the full kit (with the tri-pod, hard case and glasses) for $80 and for some reason the smaller kit with only the level and a soft case is $95.
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at December 22, 2010 10:02 AM