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Top 10 Levels 2017

It's tough to imagine any activity that does not want a level, from fixtures making, to striking tiles, pictures, shelving or mirrors, or maybe full-scale professional construction. Find the perfect model for your next project from our comprehensive choice, which incorporates both traditional bubble styles and virtual shows in more than a few sizes.

Stabila 37816 48-Inch and 16-Inch Aluminum Box Beam Level SetSwanson SVT200 9-Inch Savage Digital Torpedo Level with Neodymium MagnetsIRWIN Tools 1000 I-beam Level, 48-Inch (1801094)Black & Decker BDSL10 36-Inch Gecko Grip Level with Accu MarkQooltek Multipurpose Laser Level laser measure Line 8ft+ Measure Tape Ruler Adjusted Standard and Metric RulersStanley FatMax 43-572 72-Inch Non-Magnetic LevelStabila 11995 Magnetic Pocket Level PRO with HolsterDewalt DWHT43003 Magnetic Torpedo LevelEmpire EM71.8 Professional True Blue Magnetic Box LevelStanley 42-324 24-Inch I-Beam 180 Level

A Brief History Of The Level

Whether you're a carpenter, an interior decorator, or an installation artist, If you want to get things straight, you need to use a level. These humble, handy devices use the basic physical attributes of gravity and buoyancy to help you identify angles quickly and accurately. And as simple as the properties at play within a level may be, there's more than meets the eye with these time-honored tools, both in terms of function and history.

Let's take a step back to a time before builders and DIY hobbyists alike could buy a cheap, reliable level anytime they pleased.

Early leveling devices were used to help builders erect everything from the pyramids at Giza to the Parthenon to the Coliseum and beyond. A simple level can be devised using a weighted object suspended below a carefully measured tripod, with the tilt of the string checked to establish a 90-degree angle (or to observe a lack thereof). Even an act so simple as placing a sphere on a flat surface can help to check how level it may or may not be, and determine the direction of tilt should it exist.

The first known level approximating the modern design was not invented until sometime in the mid 17th Century, likely in the year 1661. That was the year in which the letters of French inventor, scientist, cartographer, and author Melchisédech Thévenot first make mention of his new device, an early but functional bubble level. It took several decades for use of Thévenot's invention to become widespread, but by the early 1700s, levels were in wide enough use that we still have many surviving examples of these early generations of the now ubiquitous tool.

The proper name of the device usually just called a level is in the fact spirit level. This name comes from the fact that the liquid within the level's vial (that's the little glass tube with the green liquid and the bubble, for the record) is usually an alcohol such as ethanol or some other similar spirit. A spirit has a wider temperature range as a liquid than does water, thus is less susceptible to the expansion issues potentially caused by water as it freezes into its sold form, aka ice. This helps to avoid broken vials even when the level is used in freezing temperatures.

Projects That Call For Level Usage


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If you're trying to hang a single framed picture in your home, chances are that you can manage to get it looking ostensibly parallel to the ground without use of a level. However, if you're hanging multiple photos or paintings (or other pieces of media) in line with each other, then the eye will clearly be able to determine which is off level by contrasting the various frames. Hanging multiple pictures precisely, therefore, calls for a level.

As for work in the construction field, there is no option except for precision: safety and the longevity of a building or home absolutely depend on it. Most people in the professional builder's world will have at least the occasional need to use a level. While a plumber or an electrician may get away with only occasional level usage, their work is largely tucked away behind walls and in ceilings and floors, after all, other workers will use a level almost every hour of every day of the work week.

Masons and framers, in particular, will see plenty of demand for a level in their work, as each angle -- be it of a layer of brick or of the beams running the length of a roof -- must be precise. That's so because all subsequent work (the next layer of bricks, for example, or the lumber attached to the frame of the roof) depends on previous precision for its own accuracy.

If you have ever seen a crew working in the middle of a city street or standing on a construction site peering through a device perched atop a tripod, you have watched people using an advanced level for the purposes of surveying. In fact, this particular surveying technique is called leveling, and it involves using an optical viewing instrument paired with a level and a distant level staff, which is a rod held upright and marked with a numerical legend. The same basic level design devised in 17th Century France still informs the layout of the modern roadway or the foundation of a skyscraper.

Features To Look For In Your Level


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For certain projects, you simply must treat yourself to a laser level. Projects like placing tile, planning a long wall of hanging pictures aligned on the same axis, or other such projects where the end results will spread out over a distance and will be highly visible are made much easier thanks to that reliably straight beam cast by your level.

Most levels feature two different vials that are set perpendicular to one another, and for most people these two vials are sufficient. One allows for the easy establishment of properly upright positioning, while the other allows for proper alignment horizontal to the ground. However, if your work (or at least the project at hand) calls for precise angles that are anything other than 180 or 90 degrees in orientation, look for a level with vials set at angles to help you ensure your work remains precise. (Arguably, the next most important angle is the 45 degree. Some fine levels also feature vials set at 30 degrees.)

A level with a good built-in magnet can help keep your hands free while you work, helping you get the job done even when you're working alone. Some levels also feature other mounting options, such as an adjustable screw that can use to attach the level to a pipe, beam, or piece of framing lumber as you position and then lock the material permanently in place. These locking features are great for working with nonmagnetic materials.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, there are also times when you will want a level that is decidedly non-magnetic. From the metal studs used to hold up sheets of drywall in certain types of construction to the area under a sink filled with pipes to a project where the object you are trying to position is itself made from a metal that attracts magnets, a magnetized level can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a boon.

Non-magnetic levels can more deftly and accurately be placed near iron-rich metals without pulling themselves out of alignment due to the force of attraction. And they can more easily be moved out of the way once it's time to start drilling, hammering, or sinking a screw.


#10.Stanley 42-324 24-Inch I-Beam 180 Level


The 24 I-Beam 180 Level features a rigid I-Beam cross-section with a low profile, shock absorbing end caps for durability. It has a 180 rotating view for a range of situations. Plus the measuring scale is printed directly on the level to help ease the layout work. The powder-coated frame withstands nicks and gives you a comfortable hold.


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#9.Empire EM71.8 Professional True Blue Magnetic Box Level


Empire Level, the leading designer and manufacturer of levels, squares, layout tools and caution tape in the United States has further enhanced its iconic True Blue product line with a second generation series, the "True Blue Evolution" e2G. Features like Patented Vial Design, Advanced Concentric Manufacturing, and Removable Shock-Absorbing End Caps are the direct result of user feedback and field testing. Accuracy, Durability, and Readability with a Lifetime Warranty. That's the True Blue promise.


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#8.Dewalt DWHT43003 Magnetic Torpedo Level


Love it! It's rugged and you can transfer an elevation mark at the end. The rubber bumper is the width of a carpenters pencil lower so your mark is dead on.


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#7.Stabila 11995 Magnetic Pocket Level PRO with Holster


The Stabila 11995 is a magnetic version of the Pocket Level Pro with a holster for your belt. The Stabila 11995 is lightweight, compact and extremely portable with magnets that will stick to steel framing or other metal surfaces. The 11995 Pocket Level has permanently calibrated vials for accurate and quick reads. Trust Stabila to improve even the pocket level to a more useful tool you will always want to have handy.


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#6.Stanley FatMax 43-572 72-Inch Non-Magnetic Level


Built from a single piece of aluminum extrusion for increased durability and rugged use. Features 2 block vials on each end to provide maximum accuracy. A center Max Edge vial enables users to scribe continuous lines with an improved view. Dual bi-material hand grips for comfort with two shock absorbent end caps and non-marring side bumpers for durability. Aluminum. Top Read. Length - 72 in.


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#5.Qooltek Multipurpose Laser Level laser measure Line 8ft+ Measure Tape Ruler Adjusted Standard and Metric Rulers


Nice features. A level is handy as a torpedo level but serves for making the laser level too. Great that it has three beam orientations, horizontal, vertical, and crosshairs. Easily switchable. The only drawback is that it's not powerful enough to use outside hardly at all. Beam has good distance indoors. I have several other more expensive lasers for other specific uses, but this is good for quick beams.


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#4.Black & Decker BDSL10 36-Inch Gecko Grip Level with Accu Mark


Black & Decker's 36-inch Accu Mark level is designed to perform any basic leveling job with ease. Now you can hang pictures, shelves, decorative items and much more with all the precision of a professional -- and none of the guessing and re-guessing that damages walls with repeated drilling or nailing. The BDSL10 is a lightweight, handy home device that's packed with the high-grade durability and convenience features you expect from an industry leader like Black & Decker.


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#3.IRWIN Tools 1000 I-beam Level, 48-Inch (1801094)


Levels of this length and quality sell for twice the price or more at retailers, even those that claim to have the lowest prices. The magnet is sufficiently strong to hold it in place vertically for most applications, however, depending on the metal, it may not hold when suspended horizontally. The perfect level for installing door jambs, in which case the magnet is moot. You can save a few dollars by buying the non-magnetic version.


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#2.Swanson SVT200 9-Inch Savage Digital Torpedo Level with Neodymium Magnets


The SAVAGE Digital Torpedo Level is very easy to use. The digital level doesn’t rely on the user to determine if a bubble is accurately between two lines, and it has an Audio alert when it achieves level or plumb. The digital level is the most accurate on the market with a .01-Degree accuracy. It is nearly 3X more accurate than the most accurate spirit levels on the market. Other features include an automatic shut-off after continual non-use, so it does not to waste battery power.


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#1.Stabila 37816 48-Inch and 16-Inch Aluminum Box Beam Level Set


Stabila's earned the right to boast, "Always Trust, Never Adjust." They're known for accuracy and dependability. Stabila guarantees that every one of their levels has been electronically calibrated and inspected and has received a certification of accuracy. The vial system, permanently epoxy-locked in the frame by a patented process, is the clearest and easiest to read of any level we've seen. Everything about these levels is quality, from the removable rubber end caps for flush measuring to the big, comfortable handholds.


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