The Earth might not be flat, but your DIY projects should be. That's why a good level is one of the most important tools in every homeowner's toolbox.
Levels come in many shapes and configurations, depending on what task you want to accomplish. Need a picture to hang? Use a torpedo level. Hanging wallpaper? You'll reach for a plumb bob. Heck - even the deceptively simply (but super accurate) DIY water level (basically just a long clear hose filled with water) can come in handy. Today, I'm checking out a super nice version of a very common, versatile tool: the box level.
I got a sample of Empire's True Blue, 16" Digital Box Level to try out. A box level (so-called because, when viewed from the end, it has a the profile of a box), is also referred to as a carpenter's level or a mason's level. They come in a variety of lengths, usually anywhere from six inches up to six feet, and as their name implies, they're most often used during framing, construction, hanging, and building projects.
Other types of levels
Torpedo/bullet level - this is a smaller version of the box level, and is meant to be highly portable and easy to use (for small adjustments where less precision is needed.
Plumb bob - essentially just a weight attached to a string, this type of level helps you find true vertical.
Post level - this tool is meant to be attached to a post (i.e. fences) or pipe, and has multiple level bubbles to help you find level and plumb when building decks, laying out plumbing, or installing railings.
The True Blue e105 Digital Box level has some pretty amazing features. It combines the best of classic analog and digital technology, and it never hurts to be extra accurate when attempting any DIY project, so if you pick one of these up, you definitely won't regret the added precision.
This level is self calibrating, meaning you can just take it out of the box and start using it right away. It has two digital read out screens (both with a back light), as well as a high-contrast level bubble, so taking a reading is never hard to do.
The seven measuring modes that you can dial in to let you know exactly how far off you are from level, in inches per foot, millimeters per meter, degrees, and as a percentage. It's accurate to one hundredth of a degree, which will make some of you out there (cough ... Alicia ... cough) very happy (Yay! My gallery wall pictures are level! Really, really level!).
My favorite feature of this tool is the audio indicator - it lets you know, using three different tones, whether you're under, above, or precisely at level. I can see that feature being really handy on a work site, or in less than optimal conditions (rain, darkness, etc.), or when your trying to do a job without an extra pair of hands.
Speaking of which, this tool is built to work in any condition. It has shock-absorbing end caps that mean you're not likely to break it, even if you do drop it. (Which you should avoid doing whenever possible, since levels are precision instruments.) And it's rated to withstand a spray of water from any direction, so it's fine in the rain, or if you need to hose it off after a day of setting concrete.
We even tried submerging it, and it seemed to do just fine:
(Note: you probably shouldn't try this with yours. That's what we're here for!)
I can tell this is a tool that's going to be in my workshop for a long time, and I can't wait to find a project where I can put it to good use.
Did you know?
Levels have been in use since ancient times. The Egyptians used an 'A-frame' level to make sure their stones were level when erecting walls or buildings. They also used rough water levels (narrow troughs cut into bedrock and filled with water)
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