Are laser levels any good?

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I was looking for one but many seem to not be very accurate.
I just want to hang shelves, tiles, etc. Does not need to be industrial grade but I do want accuracy. Any advice on what to buy?
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try a water level
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Unless you have a blackhole or neutron star in your back pocket, you don't have to worry about a laser bending... The only thing you have to worry about is getting the thing level to begin with.
There are a lot of places that sell quite inexpensive laser levels that work just fine as long as you check that their bubble levels are reasonably accurate, or know how to compensate for it.
For example, the Lee Valley cheapie is rated at better than 1" in 100 feet, and they have an instruction manual that shows how to compensate for it.
Yes, water levels are cheaper. But they can be as inaccurate as that too.
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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Chris Lewis wrote:
<snipped>

Huh?
I presume the only way that can happen is if the water isn't at the same temperature throughout the tubing. Like if one end is in shade and the other in sunlight long enough for the water to change temperature.
A quick look at a density/temperature chart for water shows that for say a 40 degree F temperature difference the density varies by about seven parts per thousand, so you'd have to have a "down and back up" between the ends of more than ten feet before you'd get an inch of error.
I suppose that IS a consideration regarding water levels I never stopped to think about before. I guess "water seeks its own level" isn't always a true statement. <G> Thanks.
Jeff
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It's a true statement within limits ;-) It starts getting fussy when you have 100' of thin tubing.
There are other things to consider like how well the tubing is wetting, air bubbles, air locks, and even microbubbles you can't see. Dye so old farts like us can see the water level. Detergent to minimize wetting/meniscus parallax problems etc.
You have to set it up carefully before you can trust it. It's not quite so portable. And sometimes you get wet ;-)
Decent tubing for a water level may end up costing more than an "adequate" laser level.
So they may not even be cheaper. But they _will_ go around corners ;-)
There are benefits to both.
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In fact, a poorly made or installed mirror or lens in the laser can easily result in a distorted laser line being cast.
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But the beam is still _straight_.
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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If you are just hanging shelves the $20 one will work fine. Just be sure you get the beam spreader. I have mine on a cheap camera tripod. When you set it up use a ruler to measure down from the ceiling to establish the right line. After all it is not as important that it "is" level than that it "looks" level. You will take your visual cue from the wall and ceiling and they might not be all that level ;-)
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poison snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (raymondj) wrote in

A laser marks a straight line, but lasers have no way of knowing whether the path of their light is level. Levelling is done the old-fashioned way, with a bubble level. So it is no more accurate.
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For your application, just get an 18"-24" conventional bubble level - unless you need to establish 1 level line along a whole wall.
RPG wrote:

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RPG wrote:

Actually it doesn't even do a straight line, what with refraction. A quarter mile roadside bookcase will sag into the road if it follows a laser line.
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Depends on the time of day ;-)
Even a perfectly straight line will hit the ground if you make it long enough. Think: horizon.
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Wouldn't a straight line go off into space? The curvature of the earth would be downward AWAY from the line.
Steve
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Nope. The earth is actually a sphere encompassing the known universe.
;-)
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Just be advised there are two kinds. One that throws a straight line, like an arrow, ending in a dot at the end. Very useful in some applications. There are "beam spreaders" that make the light like a sheet of light. Very useful for throwing a line all around a room on a horizontal plane, or on a vertical plane. Depends on what you are doing as to which one is best. I would imagine you can get a decent one for about $50, and that is a guess. Others will have to suggest brand names according to their experience.
Steve
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For what you want to do, they are just fine.
I bought a cheap one and all it does it put a spot on the wall across from the level. No all that useful. I bought the on advertised on TV for about $20. It shoots a line along the wall and even around a corner. That is the one you want for most work. You adhere it to the wall and use the line as a reference. You still have to set the level with a bubble, then the line is the reference.
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One warning about the beam spreader. Make sure the laser is pretty close to the height of the line you are drawing on the wall. If it shoots up or down the line will curve.
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If the wall is curved ;-)
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Chris Lewis wrote:

It will shoot a curved line on a straight wall--if pointed upwards and straight at the middle of a wall, the line will be lower in the middle of a straight wall and curve up on either side where it's further away.
Ken
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Oops, quite right. But if you're lucky, the wall will be curved enough to compensate ;-)
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