July 30, 2012
It wasn't until last year that we even knew about Sola levels. We were approached out of the blue by the company, an act that leaves us with two distinct thoughts:
1. Thank the heavens that they contacted us.
2. How the hell did we not know about this company?
Sola, a company with a big market in Europe and is now making inroads in the US, makes some top-notch levels that use a unique method of vial stabilization. If you cut open an inexpensive level you'll see that the vial is probably held in place by wishes and unicorn dreams. A Sola, on the other hand, uses a two part system, one rigid and one flexible, that ensures the vial won't move even in extreme temperature situations (more info on that here). According to Sola, it's a system that is superior to the one that is used by the mighty Stabila. We reviewed Sola's 4' level here.
The company recently sent us one of their torpedo levels to check out. And check out we did...
Continue reading: "Sola MM 5 25 Torpedo Level - Review"
March 30, 2012
So when you think "high-end level," you think, "Stabila." Right? Well, yeah, but as it turns out there is another player in the arena. We were contacted by Sola Levels last year and thought, "why not, we'll give anything a try." Honestly we had never heard of the brand and thought it was just another mid-range level vying for some market space. We got to talking to them and it wasn't long before we were convinced otherwise.
Continue reading: "Sola Focus Vial 4' Level - Review"
August 31, 2011
OK, it's official. We're totally inundated in levels. It feels like this is the 50th one we've reviewed this year, and it's getting tough to come up with interesting things to say. This one, made by Swanson, is the torpedo version of their Lightning Level that we reviewed a while back.
This one has all of the same features; an aluminum body, a little button that lights up the vials and a timed shut-off (10 minutes), so you won't drain your battery dead the first time you leave it on in your tool bag. It also has a groove along the top, so you can work with pipes.
We generally liked the larger version, but feel that the technology is actually more practical in the smaller format. A lighted 2' level is OK, but how often are you going to be using a 2' level in the dark? A torpedo, on the other hand, gets used in wall cavities, under sinks, in crawl spaces, and plenty of other areas where visibility blows.
We used it a bunch at the site and we liked it quite a bit. So yeah, this one falls in the positive side of the ledger book. It's going to cost about $25.
So there you have it, yet another review of a torpedo level! Huzzah!
August 25, 2011
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....
Continue reading: "Channellock Levels - Review"
July 1, 2011
We're on the verge of renaming the site LevelSnob.com, given the sheer amount of levels we've covered in the past few months (and will be covering in the next few). The latest is Bostitch's Box Beam Clamping Level, which allows you to clamp the tool along a piece of wood, sort of like a magnetized level and a metal stud. Bostitch sent us a sample a couple months ago to check out and we've used it at home and on the site enough to draw some conclusions. Those conclusions are....(ahem)...
Continue reading: "Bostitch Box Beam Clamping Level - Review"
June 27, 2011
Well this is kind of an oddball. We've never seen a level quite like it. It's the Checkpoint U6 and it's a U shaped item, about the size of a nice skipping stone that is capable of taking level readings on six different angles; 0, 90, 45, 22.5, 30, and 60. It has a v-groove all around it, as well as a series of magnets, so it's perfect for steel pipes and conduit.
It's one of those tools that exudes the aroma of quality. Maybe it's the solid weight, maybe it's the look of precision machining, we're not sure, but whatever it is, just holding the tool justifies its $35 price tag.
It's a cool little item, but we don't have a whole lot more to say about it than that. Works as advertised...high quality...compact...there you go.
It's probably not a tool for everyone, the general carpenter probably won't have much use for it, but if you do a lot of work with pipes and want a pocket-sized reference, this is the way to go.
Available in a variety of colors at Amazon
June 24, 2011
Stabila, one of the leading names in high-quality, high-durability high-price levels has recently released an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow
polka dot bikini level. This one is really small, as in keychain small.
It's about $20 which might seem like a lot for something the size of a Matchbox, but when you take into account Stabila's stellar reputation (which we wholeheartedly vouch for), it makes sense. This level may be small, but it will last a lifetime and unless you're really careless with it, it'll probably stay accurate. Go here for a look at how the innards of a Stabila measure up to the competition. More info on the micro level at Stabila.
April 27, 2011
We've covered a number of Johnson levels lately and this latest is the smallest so far. Called the Mouse for obvious reasons, this one shoots a straight laser line against the surface that the unit is sitting on. It comes with bubble levels on the X and Y axis so you can make the line plumb or level, depending on your needs. Johnson sent us one to check out and our thoughts are as follows...
Continue reading: "Johnson Hot Shot Laser Mouse - Review"
April 12, 2011
Johnson recently released a torpedo level specifically intended for the welder and were nice enough to send us one to check out. Unfortunately, we didn't have any welding projects and, in fact, we've yet to hook up the 100 amp line that we buried out to the garage last summer, rendering our welder inoperative. So anyway, we just tossed the level in the tool bag and used it for a number of weeks as our primary torpedo.
Continue reading: "Johnson 10" Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level - Review"
March 14, 2011
Look at this thing. Just look at it. It's unbelievable.
This is one of those rare times when industrial design arcs up and breaks the sound barrier of art. Meet Origin Laser's Cornerstone Classic, a self-leveling three plane reference laser that's the damn prettiest looking tool we've seen in a long, long while.
There's a lot that this tool can do that no other laser can. We got in an email exchange with Tim Litvin, the inventor of the tool and we'll just let him speak for himself...
Our self-leveling system is not pendulum-based, but uses a precision tilt stage with two brushless DC motors; the motors are slaved to tilt sensors capable of leveling to better than 1/32" at 100 feet. The Cornerstone can also be manually leveled when necessary, and its alignment is unaffected by pushing its buttons... unlike a pendulum-based laser level.
The Cornerstone also features a "goniometer" steering function: this is a virtual pivot enabling the tool to be steered, pivoting around the axis created by the intersection of the vertical planes. Put another way, the laser cross on the ground can be positioned over a mark, and the Cornerstone can be steered pivoting around that mark. This makes for a very quick setup. The juice comes from rechargeable Li-ion batteries, helping us to keep the weight down to a solid 3.5 lbs, and the size down to that of a holster-able tool for spontaneous use anywhere.
Bosch recently released a similar item, the GLL3-80. The Cornerstone seems to be based on an entirely different technology that affords the phenomenal accuracy of 1/32 over 100'. According to Bosch their tool can attain 1/4" over 100' and doesn't have any of the manual leveling or 'steering' features.
The tool is completely made in the USA. That, bundled with the precision technology involved makes for a bank-breaker. We pulled this off their website,
Machined from 7075 aircraft aluminum, 360 brass and 440c surgical stainless steel; projecting three athermalized laser reference planes through patent-pending, diamond-turned aspheric optics, and powered by rechargeable Li-ion cells.
If you think that sounds expensive, you're right. The Cornerstone Classic is going to set you back about $5,000. Big money, no doubt.
Check out Origin Laser Tools for more information.
Press release and more insane images after the jump.
Continue reading: "Origin Laser Cornerstone Classic"
February 25, 2011
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....
Continue reading: "Johnson Glo-View Heavy Duty 48" Aluminum Box Level - Review"
February 4, 2011
Tiling is all about layout and once you get used to spotting bad tile layout, public bathrooms become even worse places than they already are. How could someone leave a 3/4" wide tile at one corner and a 4" tile at the other? Auuugh...the horror.
So anyway, Johnson Level & Tool recently sent us a nifty little item called the Tiling and Flooring Laser Level. Unfortunately, we don't have any tiling jobs coming up, but we are in the process of laying out some wall to wall bookshelves and so we utilized the laser for that project.
The tool basically projects two lines at a right angle. The unit is marked with degrees (sort of like a rafter square) and it has standard and metric measurements along the short sides. These latter marks were nice because we could position the laser against an inside corner and check for square using the measurements as offsets (5-1/16"). It also projects the laser lines a solid 1-1/4" off the floor, so you don't have to worry about the lines getting blocked as you're laying down thick tile.
In a short time we've come to think that calling this a Tiling and Flooring laser sells it a bit short. We'd suggest maybe going with "Right Angle Layout Level" or something like that. This tool will no doubt be a help to anyone laying tile, but also to anyone marking out a 90 degree corner of anything, whether it's a stud wall or (like we were doing) a set of shelves. It was great to be able to finalize our corner location and know where both walls of shelving would end up. Without the laser, it would have been a pretty tedious process.
One thing that did bother us about the laser is that the battery case doesn't stay on all that well. On a bunch of occasions, we would grab the body of the laser and the little black lid would fly off. There is also no easy way to use the tool on the vertical, like for a tiling job in a shower or something similar.
If you're a DIYer embarking on a tile job and you've invested all this money in tile and supplies, the $40 spent on this tool will go a long way to ensure that the results will look good. Also if you do a lot of non-tile layout, you might want to consider this as well. It sure took time off of our project.
The Tiling and Flooring Laser Level comes with batteries and a case.
January 25, 2011
If you've never dealt with bamboo on your own property, you probably hear the word and your mind goes to a tranquil image of a meditative panda bear quietly crunching away at the stalky plant. If, on the other hand, you've had the misfortune of actually having to contend with bamboo, the word probably causes you to see red and start to uncontrollably shake. Bamboo is a total nightmare to deal with. It makes mint look mild in its invasiveness, and it can grow up to two feet in a day.
So anyway, the folks over at Johnson Level have found a nice way to utilize this pest of a plant. They've started making levels out of it. Makes sense too, once you discover that bamboo has the tensile strength of steel. Who knew?
These new levels (there is currently a 2' and a 4') also have stainless steel edges and end caps. If you're looking for more information, the press release is after the jump.
Continue reading: "Johnson Level EcoTech Series Bamboo Bricklayer's Level"
December 22, 2010
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.
Continue reading: "Johnson Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser - Review"