February 25, 2011

Johnson Glo-View Heavy Duty 48" Aluminum Box Level - Review


We've always found that of all the levels, a four footer is the most useful. It's long enough to deal with framing and it can also handle most trim applications as well. The shorties are too little for twisted and crooked studs, and the six footer is a bear to deal with on the horizontal. So when we leave the shop, it's usually with our four foot Stabila, the level that we hold head and shoulders above all others. But Johnson recently sent us their new four foot box-beam level so, for a few projects, we used that one instead. Here's what we thought....

First, the Johnson level has something called Glo-View, which we talked about when we looked at their torpedo level here. Basically, there's an area around the vial that glows so the bubble can be seen in low light. It's a useful feature, but we wouldn't call it essential. As with the torpedo level, there's little attention called to the feature, but it's there when you might need it, which is nice.


Otherwise the level looks and acts like most other four foot box levels. There are nice beefy hand grips on it that can be easily used with gloves on. The vials are clear and easy to see, and the edges have that nice precision milled look and feel about them.

johnson_box_level_end_w_s.JPG johnson_box_level_end_w_s_2.JPG

But...there was one feature that drove us a little bonkers about the level. The rubber ends aren't removable. They look like they're removable....but they're not...and they're slightly tapered, so the straight edge line of the level is not continuous to the end of the level. It stops at the metal end and then slopes away for the last little bit. This hurts the level as a layout tool (which is what we use our levels for half the time anyway). Also, if you're drawing a level line off of a mark on an inside corner, how can you be exact with this level? Maybe we're too used to the Stabila with it's removable caps, but on more than one occasion we muttered, "Why...why...why?" when using the Johnson level.

So, it's a nice level, but it's not a perfect one. It's going to set you back almost $60, which puts it in the mid-range for 48" levels. Our Stabila that we compared it to costs almost twice as much.

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at February 25, 2011 6:03 AM
Recent Comments

Good honest detailed review!

If you want a really good low light level Stabila makes a 24" and 48" available in a 2 level kit with a case and a 48" under license with Festool. If I didn't already have 24" and 48" Stabila levels I'd be all over these.

Posted by: Ethan at February 25, 2011 1:33 PM
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