(last updated on September 20, 2014)
I finally mounted my check rail, but before undertaking this momental task I went to Home Depot to buy some kind of leveling device. I was originally thinking of getting some kind of fancy auto-balancing laser level, but they’re expensive…$39 and up! The one I really wanted was about $80, but the packaging was done is such a way that I couldn’t quite tell if it did what I really wanted. So, I thought I’d check out what I thought would be the boring old-style levels and save myself some money.
What I didn’t expect was this sweet piece of machined aircraft aluminum:
The World of Levels
Levels deliver precision measurement in demanding construction environments, have to be shock-proof, lightweight, and easy to read. And of course it helps if they look cool. The one above is from the Empire Level Manufacturing Corporation website, which made the slickest ones I saw. Their claim to fame is some kind of innovation in the level bubble capsule itself, but I thought they just looked neat. Look!
Prices were about $16 for a 24-inch aluminum level.
Another neat purveyor of fine levels were the wooden ones from Johnson Level & Tool. They were made of laminated strips of wood, with brass edging and shock mounts on either side…really neat looking. These were a bit more expensive, at $25 for a 24-inch wooden level. I couldn’t find a decent picture on their website, but there was a fancy web page for their new product line. It’s called, er, “The Big Johnson”:
I spent about an hour looking at every different level there, admiring the design and construction of each manufacturer’s offering. It’s interesting to note that both Empire and Johnson are located in Wisconsin, the land of cheese and hearty wursts. Is toolmaking a tradition out there? The president of Empire Level is apparently fifth-generation member of the family that founded the business in 1919. There’s a cute picture of her holding the “the super-accurate True Blue® vial which is at the heart of Empire’s premium level’s and squares.” Adorable.
Money is Still Money
Despite all this looking and shopping, I just decided to get this $3.99 Stanley plastic level: