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Thread: good level

  1. #31
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    I've gone more and more to laser levels (I have the Bosch, but bought a sturdier and taller tripod for it). I little finicky self-leveling sometimes, but great for hanging stuff on walls. Red laser. Green would definitely be more visible.

    Also use digital levels for woodworking. Several sizes. Shefio is the brand. Bought it on Amazon. Seems very accurate when tested.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
    - Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowell holmes View Post
    Go to Lowes and Home Depot. Both stores have them. You will know when you when you find one you like.
    The stuff at the 'borg isn't even on the same level as the good stuff most of us are recommending. (pardon the expression) The OP wants a pro-level level, as it were.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    The stuff at the 'borg isn't even on the same level as the good stuff most of us are recommending. (pardon the expression) The OP wants a pro-level level, as it were.
    Could you explain how an Empire level, that actually measures level, is not as good as a high-end level that also claims to? For example, if you have a level that measures level, and you flip it around and it measures the exact same level, how is that not good enough, at least for construction and installation purposes (which is most of what all of this is for.)

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Dawson View Post
    Could you explain how an Empire level, that actually measures level, is not as good as a high-end level that also claims to? For example, if you have a level that measures level, and you flip it around and it measures the exact same level, how is that not good enough, at least for construction and installation purposes (which is most of what all of this is for.)
    I'm with you, Doug. But think how much wer'e gonna enjoy readin' about how much better the platinum plumb-bobs
    are than the brass ones ! I'm guessing someone will say ...."well,for one thing ,they come with a starched string for
    better straight-ness. "

  5. #35
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    Doug, it's true that a "level level" is certainly within the realm of the more budget friendly products and it may very well satisfy a particular individual when they find it. So yes, you are correct in calling me out here. But what you do tend to get with the higher end levels is more consistency and durability over time. Some have more features for flexibility, too. So it's more likely that the first one you try/use will be dead on as opposed to the mass market products.

    I honestly no longer buy the "good enough for construction" thing after seeing the level of precision that some folks put into "construction"...it rivals what many of us strive to do in our shops when building furniture, honestly. I've compromised the ease of my own work by thinking "good enough" too much in the past, honestly.

    After all that, my thinking here has gravitated more toward what Ole mentioned. For cabinet work and a lot of other construction things, I'd like to have a good laser level involved. The level is as long as it needs to be and takes away some of the small challenges that a hand-held level has with movement. It's kinda like having a third hand.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by richard poitras View Post
    1st choice would be a Stabila as they are top quality, but if on a budget the Empire .
    I sometimes wonder if Empire is under rated. I have a couple Empire squares that are as square as I can measure. They're not made as heavy as something like Starrett but with reasonable care they seem fine and it's not painful to replace them if need be. I also have their 12" level that seems accurate when using the 'swap ends' method. It is easy to read and has a 'slope' vial or whatever it's called. Lines for 1/8" slope per foot, 1/4" slope per foot etc. If it matters, most Empire stuff is still made in Mukwanago (sp?), WI. or at least was a few years ago.
    Last edited by Curt Harms; 03-25-2021 at 7:19 AM.

  7. #37
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    My favorite levels are 4', and 78" Stanley magnesium ones, that I bought new in something close to 1975. They're lightweight, and should be fragile compared to some that are supposed to be more durable, but 46 years is not too bad out of such lightweight tools. They've built more than a few million dollars worth of stuff, and still read fine. They are just a couple in the pretty good arsenal of levels, but I've somehow managed to get by without spending high dollars on levels. I am still using a couple of the original Smart Levels too, when it's nice to know a digitally presented angle.

    Much like squares, if they read level, or square in the store, they should be plenty serviceable, especially for a hobbyist.

  8. #38
    Empire used to make a line of ebony levels to compete in the ultra premium market.
    Alas, they proved too heavy and pricey for even the most cultured carpenters. Facing abysmal sales, the line was abruptly discontinued. The headline in trade news read,

    “Empire strikes black”.
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 03-24-2021 at 8:35 AM.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Dawson View Post
    Could you explain how an Empire level, that actually measures level, is not as good as a high-end level that also claims to? For example, if you have a level that measures level, and you flip it around and it measures the exact same level, how is that not good enough, at least for construction and installation purposes (which is most of what all of this is for.)
    If I may, the most important detail of levels is how accurately my old eyes can read the bubble. In a perfect world, the bubble is exactly as wide as a set of calibrated lines on the vial, so there is no mystery as to whether it's centered. Very many levels do not do this because the lines are not correctly registered or the bubble is to big/small. Another issue pertaining to old eyes is bubble visibility. I like colored fluid because it is easier to see the bubble in. The Empire blue in my 6'er have faded, they are now a very subtle light blue, which is still ok. I prefer the yellow or green fluid (Stabila or Milwaukee) though, however my oldest Stabila is faded from yellow to nearly clear now too. Someone mentioned the machined corners being beveled so using the level to draw a straight line or as a straight edge is very complicated, and this is pet peeve #3. Lot's of levels in my tool shed, only a few get used every day because they are user friendlier.

    Oh, then there is the "disposable" level category, the ones made of a weak casting that will bend if accidentally dropped or bumped hard. These are usually the cheap store brand levels, so disposable is ok. They can serve a purpose, but don't expect a lifetime of use. Unfortunately the wood ones seem to fall into that category often. I collect old tools, levels included, and I would not use many of my 100 year old levels for accurate work, usually because the wood has moved and they are no longer very straight.

  10. #40
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    Sep 2009
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    Putney, Vermont
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    I bought a 4 foot Stanley aluminum level in 1980 and it is still as good as the day I bought it. Also got a 2 foot stabila from Cripe distributing that was as level as level is and it confirmed my Stanley. You may want a more robust level then the Stanley, but they should all be handled with care.

  11. #41
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Cambridge Vermont
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    I have a couple Johnson 4' wooden mason levels. They are fine for most of what I need them for. I just went through the whole batch until I found the most accurate one. Checking a level is simple. Check something, spin it around and check it again. If the bubble is in a different spot then it's not perfectly level.

    I did have a 8' Stabila until a wooden beam fell on it while building my house. My father bought it at a garage sale for $10. Loosing it was a crying moment. To replace it would mean buying off the internet and trying to deal with shipping something over 8' long. That same week a contractor backed over the empty case for my Trimble laser level (thank god it wasn't in it). Great stuff is nice but the good stuff doesn't hurt much if it's damaged.

  12. #42
    maybe those guitar builders were buying up ebony levels for fret boards. Alex you are making up a new thread. I loaned my cement mixer to a friend and his son backed over it while they were building a home. I should have got the extended warranty.

  13. #43
    When I was a kid my father bought a wood level. Occasional home repair use. In reading his Popular Mechanics mags. I saw the level your
    level then turn it around and see if it reads the same thing, thing. It did not read the same, but Dad was stoic. I seriously doubt any of them were accurate. Johnson wooden level with routed and puttied vials.... today that would be vile.

  14. #44
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    San Benito, TX
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    +1 on a laser for cabinet installs. Huge time saver and more accurate.
    I have a bosch 2 line red laser with tripod I'll sell if you're interested. I think it's a GLL55, built need to get it out and check. I upgraded to a green 3 line a year and a half ago and no longer use the red one.

  15. #45
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    Mar 2015
    Location
    San Benito, TX
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    Buddy of mine worked on a trim crew in late 80's. Boss had to change out his alternator on the job site one day and used a new 4' level to pry on the alternator to tighten the belt. He broke the level in half. From then on every level was referred to as "the prybar."

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