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Thread: Builders Level - Optical or Laser?

  1. #1
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    Builders Level - Optical or Laser?

    Need a builders level - need to buy one this week. I'm looking at a Bosch optical level, but there are lots of laser alternatives.Opinions?

  2. #2
    Put the word out, someone will likely give you one- there are many sitting unused.

    Lasers are handy and work well solo, but not great outdoors in bright light and for longer distances.

  3. #3
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    I opted for a Stabila over the Bosch and some others I considered. IMHO, it was a step up and will be more attractive for resale later on when I'm done the last project I intend to use it for. Because I chose the green laser, it was also helpful for some of the interior work in my shop building after it went up, although it's not a replacement for what's typical for interior projects. Red is technically better outside. The primary job for mine was for doing the pad for my shop building and some additional concrete work. I bought from ToolNut and was happy with the cost.

    I have to respectfully disagree with Cameron about outdoors because you're not really needing to "see" the line...you use a sensor for that...and that's an advantage over an optical transit that typically requires two people to operate. Distance is also not an issue for a quality laser. If you want to see a layout for a "yuge" building using laser, check out RR Building's latest project video on a new project for a 300x90 building.
    --

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

  4. #4
    With my builder's level (transit, actually) you can easily split a pencil line at 200'. The laser level that I have does not have a sensor beyond a colored plastic thing, and it's often hard to see a line at all at 40 or 50' in brighter light.

    But for utility use- cabinets, light fixture layout etc., it's fine and very handy.

  5. #5
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    I have used both. A good transit level is extremely accurate. I used one 50 years ago to layout the positioning of a GCA radar used for landing aircraft. That said, I use a Bosch laser level for my occasional use around my home. It's good enough for most things.
    Ken

    So much to learn, so little time.....

  6. #6
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    An optical level needs two persons, one for the level, another for the rod. A laser can be a one person operation and allows you to roam around. I have an old K&E KE 6-e optical transit, a step between an old fashioned transit and newer digital models. Great optics, one minute resolution. Used it in the 1960's when I was on a survey crew in the summers when school was out. My dad was a surveyor/engineer and at one time had one of those old transits that had been polished up for display. Bummed that he somehow lost track of it, would love to have it on display in my man-cave. New high end digital levels use a rod that is marked with what looks like a upc code for automatic reading and can be used for running long distance precise bench marks loops.
    Last edited by Ole Anderson; 06-24-2024 at 7:31 AM.
    NOW you tell me...

  7. #7
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    Depending on the level of accuracy you want. My David White that I bought new in 1974 can split the width of a laser line easily into ten parts at 100 feet. Iíve used it on every building Iíve built since then.

    I also have a decent laser level, but for me itís good for dirt work. A laser line is too wide to suit me for anything else.
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    Last edited by Tom M King; 06-24-2024 at 7:55 AM.

  8. #8
    I have used one with the audio feature. They are a game changer for excavating, building concrete forms and laying pipe. I am not sure of the brand but will find out. I do know it was expensive. I have a 2nd tripod and a bungie cord to hold the traverse rod when I try to use the optical transit without a helper, it is silly.

    I took a peek in the neighbors truck. He has a Fluke brand. He is a concrete contractor.
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 06-24-2024 at 5:31 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cameron Wood View Post
    The laser level that I have does not have a sensor beyond a colored plastic thing, and it's often hard to see a line at all at 40 or 50' in brighter light.
    Rotating Laser levels designed for outdoor layout work...at least the pro level ones... have an electronic receiver and are extremely accurate. That goes for Stabila, Bosch and others. The specific tool matters. Simple line lasers are not suitable for this work, but are great for setting cabinets, etc.

    Here's the unit I have...the receiver is shown on the pole. The green card is for indoor use when using the receiver is inconvenient for whatever reason.

    Last edited by Jim Becker; 06-24-2024 at 9:03 AM.
    --

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

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the replies. After reading about the accuracy of the lasers (1/4"@100") I decided on a Bosch 26X optical for resolution and durability. Due here Wednesday.

  11. #11
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    I decided to look at what David White is currently selling. This looks like their better one now. I'm pretty sure the cost is fewer in dollars than the one I bought in 1974 and dollars were worth a lot more back then.

    https://www.engineersupply.com/David...-45-D8932.aspx

    although this one looks pretty cool

    https://www.contractors-tools.com/david-white-25-sdl32-power-digital-level-for-building-construction/?
    Last edited by Tom M King; 06-24-2024 at 12:51 PM.

  12. #12
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    Thanks Tom, I looked at the David white but got a pretty good deal on the Bosch - $240 landed with tripod and target. Hopefully, good enough.

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