Using Different Kinds of Levels

Levels Safety Tips

  • Never drop a level. It is a precision instrument and the impact could jeopardize the integrity of the tool.
  • Always keep a level in its protective case if it has one.

    Carpenter's Level

  • Tool that employs bubble vials positioned in the center and both ends to check vertical and horizontal surfaces for level or plumb.
  • Made of either hardwood with brass binding, metal (aluminum, magnesium) or high-impact plastic.
  • Typically 24" to 48" long, but some models (generally mason’s levels) are longer and can be up to 72” in length.
  • Some models include split level or graduated vials that have two sets of lines, with the outside line representing a 2 percent grade that conforms to the slope required for gutters and waste lines to drain properly.
  • Some models include electronic features to calculate angles on sloped surfaces (roof pitches, stair slopes and drainage angles) and display reading in degrees, percent slope or inches per feet (rise/run).

    Torpedo Level

  • Usually 9" long and 1” wide, it is used for obtaining readings in close quarters where a typical carpenter’s level won’t fit.
  • Because of its compact size, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, hobbyists and homeowners often choose torpedo levels.
  • Enhancement features include magnetized models and models incorporating a battery-operated light for working in dark areas

    Laser Level

  • Also called laser chalk lines, they are used to level and provide reference lines for hanging pictures, tile work, etc.
  • New features for electronic levels include having preset angles commonly used in construction, a self-leveling feature, and offering a graphical display that tells the user the direction and extent to rotate toward level or plumb.
  • Accessories include a variety of mounting devices such as clamps and magnetic mounts that make setup and use easier and more convenient.

    Plumb Bob

  • A small, tapered, pointed weight suspended from string or cord used to measure true vertical plumb or depth.
  • Commonly used in construction and framing.
  • Many chalk line reels can also be used as plumb bobs, hanging the tool from its string.

    Line Level

  • Used for checking level over distances, such as when installing a patio, floor or a suspended ceiling, and when there is no flat surface available.
  • Generally attached to a string stretched between two points, allowing the user to make an accurate height comparison between the two points.

    Circular Level

  • Circular in shape, this tool is used for leveling flat surfaces over a 360 degree plane, such as table tops and appliances.
  • Also called Bull’s Eye or Surface Level.
  • When bubble appears in center of circular vial, piece is level.

    Angle Leve
  • Locates angles and pitches (slopes) from 0 to 90 degrees.
  • Commonly used when installing drain lines to check for proper fall of pipe.
  • Generally reads slope or pitch with inches per foot rise scale.

    Post Level
  • Used to set and plumb posts and columns
  • Attaches to post and displays level in two directions.
  • Also available in magnetic models for positioning waste lines in plumbing applications

    Rotary Laser Level

  • Most units come with either a self leveling or manual leveling base as well as floor and wall mounts.
  • Generally accurate to 1/4 ” at 100’ for manual leveling units and 1/8” at 100’ for self-leveling units

    Laser Plumb Line

  • A self-leveling device that projects a vertical laser line onto any surface
  • The laser line is always visible because it is not covered up with a pencil mark and it is not affected by wind like a plumb bob


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