Laser Levels - any good


I have a load of decorating (tiling and paper hanging) to do at mum in laws house and was think about purchasing a not too expensive laser level that can be used to mark vertical and horizontal straight lines on walls and ceilings. There seem to be quite a few in the diy sheds. Do they produce a thin enough line for decent accuracy (<2mm), and how easy are they for getting a true vertical or horizontal? Any opinions or recommendations please? David.
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On Sat, 19 Nov 2005 16:57:42 GMT, "DavidM"

If you live near Bristol, you can borrow mine?
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wrote:

They're pretty good. The sort with a beam-widening lens on the end of a spot beam aren;t much good, as it's too hard to adjust the lens level. They're really only for making a more visible horizontal marker when adjust thin posts vertically.
The "flying spot" (whirling mirror) type is best for wallpapering. They have a good "reach" and a very long usable line. Ideally they should be self-levelling, some require manual levelling on a small bubble level.
The "projected cross" sort are best for tiling. They have a pendulum and a pair of line-projector lights. The cross is easy to set up, but the length of the useful line is relatively short (better in dim light) and a bit shorter than ideal for wallpaper. I pai 50 quid for mine from Screwfix and I notice they're now on offer at 30 quid from Axminster, which is an excellent bargain.
--
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DavidM wrote:

I tried a level from B&Q. Width of line was about 4mm. I had hoped for a razor sharp accurate line. No such luck. A distant memory from the optics section of my engineering degree suggests it's to do with the "mode" of operation of the laser. Maybe a high quality laser gives a finer line.
Alternatively, for a few pounds, buy some clear tubing from the local DIY store that's at least 10mm diameter. Fill with water and make sure that there are no air bubbles. The miniscus of the water at either end will be at the same height. This system can go around corners, down stairs and back up again etc.
Simple.
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wrote:

You're nowhere near that limit. The limit in operation here is more about the lens diameter and the near/far field transition.
Besides which, the better levels have a nice wide line for better visibility and for better range (it's that near/far limit again). However the edges of this line are sharp, parallel and well defined. Although the illuminated area is wide, then useful accuracy is better than this.
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<snip>

More likely to do with (deliberate lack of) collimation. The optics are probably set up so that the beam diverges - otherwise, the laser might take your eye out!
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On Sat, 19 Nov 2005 16:57:42 GMT, DavidM wrote:

The 20 one with leveling base and tripod I have has aline width of about 2mm but also a narrow dark line down the middle.

Verticals still use a plumb bob but project that onto the wall with the laser. Probably not much of an issue in a modern plasterboarded box with flat walls but one of our bedroom walls is so bowed that to get the 6' plumb line to hang freely it had to be at the end of a 2" nail at the top and the weight was 4" away from the wall, the line just clear of the bulge... The laser made it a doddle to accurately transfer the vertical to the wall.
The accuracy of the bubbles and ease of use of the leveling head leaves a little to be desired but to put a line around a room for a border or dado rail it's worth spending the time as you are guaranteed to get a plane not a spiral...
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Dave Liquorice wrote:

I'm sure numbers of people are hovering to buy, so please can we name specific models that do (or don't) work well?
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wrote:

Seconded. I've been tempted by one of these for a while,
Cheers,
John
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I bought a Black & Decker level laser, it 'levels' by a pendulum system but should be hung off a nail/screw - I have difficulty inserting an appropriate nail or screw _exactly_ where I need it in the hard-walls of my 'thirties' house. Although the thing self-levels there's no mechanism for vertical (heave) adjustment - other than a different nail/screw- might work on plasterboard where one can pepper holes. Still: holding the thing by hand, so the laser-line projects through the pencil mark I've previously scribed, does enable a level-line to be marked by someone else around a room and a picture rail married up and didn't spiral - I wouldn't buy one these again - but having acquired it; I'll keep it 'cos it's OK for 'Quick' levelling. but IMHE - it's a two-man job. I later, purchased a gizmo off QVC which is a tripod mounted level (switchable) and plumb (switchable) projector. The cross hairs and the vertical (heave) adjustment on the tripod mean that a pencilled mark can be matched exactly and the rotating (yaw) projector head enables a line to be marked around a room . It's dead handy for lining up pictures, mirrors, architrave, curtain rails etc. etc. I'd definitely recommend the use of one of these - it permits 'one-man' to mark off a room for tiling etc. etc.
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On Sun, 20 Nov 2005 10:37:59 GMT, John Anderton wrote:

The cheapies are mass produced in China and badged, they probably all come form just one or two factories. I got mine off eBay it's badged "Power Master". An identical looking model, with all the same accessories, was for sale in Focus DIY under a different name. They had shelves full of 'em for a week or three on "when it's gone it's gone" sort of offer.
I wouldn't trust it's levels for anything particulary critical, after all it does say on it 0.5mm/m... Which may only refer to the main bubble not the laser part. With care it does make transfering plumblines to walls more accurate and for marking out a plane for a border/dado or even the bottom of a row of tiles irreplaceable.
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laws
enough
When I came to do the bathroom tiling I thought about buying a laser and changed my mind when I saw the prices of decent ones. Instead I bought a good builders level for 20 and pencilled around the walls. I then screwed battens under the line, this has given me a perfect horizontal plane and of course being right-angled tiles I have also got perfect verticals.
I have since used the level to wallpaper and that was fine.
The best is that I have also laid a patio with the level and I don't think that could have been done using a laser.
Cheers Steve
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Has no one ever thought of glueing one of them laser lights on a normal spirit level?
I have. :-) -- Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite
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