August 25, 2011

Channellock Levels - Review


Channellock, known specifically for things like pliers and wrenches have recently made a leap and expanded their line to include levels. Their first release in this area consists of three torpedo levels. One of each of them showed up on the doorstep, courtesy of Channellock, and we brought them to the site and handed them out in order to get some feedback. Here's what we got....


As for functionality, the torpedos (Channellock only officially refers to one of them as a torpedo, but we use the term for any small level, so we'll use the term in a general sense) all have three vials; level, plumb, and 45. They've also all got a groove running down one side, making them nice for plumbing up pipes. All in all, they seem like nice, functional levels. One of them has laser pointer functionality (the one not pictured), which could help if you have to install a couple windows to the same height, or something like that.

So the function seems fine, but the strange thing about these tools is the design. We're a bit befuddled, actually. The industrial design of Channellock tools, to us at least, is superior due to its simplicity. Their hand tools are very basic, but that sparse feel bleeds quality and durability. Take their linesman pliers for example: there isn't a single item, bend, or flourish on those pliers that plays a role beyond the function of the unit as a tool. Everything you see is necessary, nothing is unnecessary. On these levels, Channellock has added a layer of aesthetics that is not only unnecessary, but is also kinda cheesy.


Most egregious is the plastic in-fill piece in the center. A big blob of plastic?..on a Channellock tool? Huh? Add to that the bizarre pattern on the plastic part and you've got us completely confused. And the larger of the two levels looks like it was designed to be a superhero's mask and not a construction site tool. At least those were our first impressions. We were reassured when the fellas at the site thought the same. The carpenters said things like, "gadgety," "plastic," and "looks sorta silly" and "huh?"

So like we said, they seem to work fine, but as far as the look goes, we'd be happier if Channellock stuck with the vibe that made their name. Maybe we're just being bitchy, you tell us.

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at August 25, 2011 5:42 AM
Recent Comments

Looks like it was the brainfart of some non-technical, non-builder, newbie, girlie man "product manager" type who thought it went well with the pliers because it was blue. Genius. Coming soon to a clearance bin near you.

Posted by: Roy Ames at August 27, 2011 3:37 PM

Thank you for being honest and not being polite because they sent you free samples. I love Channellock and always buy their hand tools over other brands as I find they are the best quality you can get for the price and they have not sold out to china.

But the first time I saw a link for Channellock levels I was excited at first then quickly realized they were weird looking offshore junk with the channellock name stamped on.

It doesn't matter what a level looks like, it has to be functional, durable and accurate. That is it.

Posted by: Chris at August 26, 2011 8:48 PM

Looks like a toy.

Posted by: Eric R at August 26, 2011 1:39 AM

for the money it's hard to beat an Empire or Johnson level. I don't really get the design or price point of these.

Posted by: Kevin at August 25, 2011 6:20 PM

They definitely didn't make me think Channellock when I saw them. They take something away from the Channellock name as they appear to be refugees from Craftsman's weekend-warrior line of tools.

Posted by: Dave Brown at August 25, 2011 12:34 PM

My favorite color is blue, and one of my favorite brands of tool is the Channellock brand. I still am not too excited over these. For me to purchase one it would have to come bundled with some other pliers (not likely since I now have more than enough) OR I'd consider picking one up when one of my small Empire torpedos wear out, which isn't likely to be soon.

I'm not digging the looks of these very much. They should have gone with a more straight-forward and simple look.

Posted by: Moose at August 25, 2011 10:06 AM
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