laser level suggestions

    My wife and I will be replacing the kitchen cabinets soon and will probably get a laser level to help do the job as well as possible. Since I will probably never use the level again I don't want to go hog wild on this purchase. Any suggestions on horizontal line levels would be appreciated. I don't want to spend money on features I will not need,(only gonna set cabinets level), but I don't want a piece of garbage either. Thanks.
--
Ed Mc
Nam Vet '66-'67
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*You just need to strike a few lines on the wall and then check for levelness before finalizing the mounting. A 4' level should suffice. Maybe need a 2' level for the sides.
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Why on earth do you think you need a laser level for this? People have been hanging cabinets for literally centuries with traditional carpenter's bubble levels, and it works just fine.
Or use a water level. Size is limited only by the length of the tubing you buy. It's dead-on accurate. And the accuracy is not affected by distance. http://www.factsfacts.com/MyHomeRepair/WaterLevel.htm

That's easy: don't buy one. The laser levels available at home centers really aren't worth the money at all. Among other things, you'll find that the lasers aren't very well collimated: the dot spreads out to about 3/16" wide across a large room, and that's not really sufficient to enable you to locate a level line with any accuracy.
And they really are nowhere nearly as accurate as traditional levels anyway. Here, check the specs on the Skil 8201-CL (retails for $99.98 at Lowe's): http://www.skiltools.com/Tools/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?model 01-CL "Angle accuracy: up to +/- 1/4 in. @ 30 ft".
Compared to what you can achieve with five bucks worth of vinyl tube and a few ounces of water, that's CRAP, absolute garbage. Twenty years ago, I laid out the wooden skirt around the base of a 16x20 shed using a water level (25' of vinyl tube from Lowe's). Started from a pencil mark at one corner and worked my way around. To verify accuracy, I struck a level line from the last post to the first one -- off by 1/32". In 72 feet.
That's twenty times as accurate, at one-twentieth of the price.
To get a laser level with that kind of accuracy, e.g. http://www.dewalt.com/tools/lasers--instruments-optical-instruments-dw096pk.aspx you need to spend in the neighborhood of $350-400, which for levelling cabinets is IMHO completely insane. (Just for the record, the stated accuracy of the DeWalt unit is 1/32" in 100 feet.)

Stick with traditional methods.
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Agreed, I have installed several sets of cabinets using a simple 4' level. Never had a problem.

I used a water level to layout the foundations of our garage (24'x28') and our house (40'x40'). It worked great. In my case, I used a large bottle as a reservoir, and secured the clear tubing to the bottle with a zip tie (just be careful not to compress or kink the hose which would affect it's operation). I set the bottle on a bucket somewhere in the middle of my project, then used the open end of the tubing to measure my level point. From there I measured down as needed to find my exact height. To minimize measuring errors, I zip tied a stick to the end of the hose with a marking on the stick to show the level water mark. That way I didn't have to keep taking measurements, when the water level lined up with the mark on the stick, I knew the bottom of the stick was at the level it needed to be.
We started laying out the forms for one corner of our house, and by the time we got all the way back around to the start (1600'), the forms met up perfectly. I checked and double-checked and everything worked out perfectly level (diagonal measurements made sure everything was square).
Water levels are great when you have to work around corners, or in your case, on completely opposite sides of a building.
Just be sure to plug the open end of the hose when you set it down, so you don't lose water and throw off the measurements. And, if you're project takes multiple days, verify your level water marks each day to make sure you haven't lost water due to evaporation.

If you absolutely must use a laser level, you could probably rent one.
Anthony Watson Mountain Software www.mountain-software.com
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Doug Miller wrote:

http://www.dewalt.com/tools/lasers--instruments-optical-instruments-dw096pk.aspx
Second that. There is no reason to believe more modern technology, in this case, is any more precise than that which came before. (Harbor Freight Multifunction Miracle Tool being one of the few exceptions. Also dentistry. )
I understand the ancient Egyptians used water to level each course of the Pyramids. Once a course was laid, they surrounded it with a copper cofferdam. Then they filled the enclosed area with water. As the water evaporated, irregularities would stick up above the waves. When that happened, a platoon of apprentice masons would scurry over and take down the protrusion. Seems to have worked...
Water is your friend.
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http://www.dewalt.com/tools/lasers--instruments-optical-instruments-dw096pk.aspx
I bought a HF self leveling laser for less Than $50, for my $5k deck. I thought it was cheap. I even used a water level to compare. Everything good. I was using it to measure the sag in wooden beams downstairs. Forget water !!! It also has the vertical mode which I'm laying down studs into the cement basement cement.
The laser will stick if tilted too much, but you can easily identify when the mechanism is settling or just plain stuck. For simple wall level, the water will work well. All you need is a chalk line between points.
Greg
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From experience, you may have to compromise if the room is not square. There is REAL levelness and PERCEIVED levelness.
Something like around 1/4 inch shifts just to make the eye agree with gravity.
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On Thu, 2 Aug 2012 04:59:48 -0400, "John Grabowski"

It is really more important that they are even with the "level" of the floor and ceiling. If you make the cabinet tops perfect and the ceiling is not level it will look funny. I would measure down the desired distance from the ceiling and strike a line from that.
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*I have experienced in several homes built by one particular builder where the ceiling height varies from one side of the room to the other. The same goes for the floor. Thank goodness for shims and crown molding.
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On Wednesday, August 1, 2012 11:19:01 PM UTC-4, Motor T wrote:

If you're only going to use it once then don't waste your money. The difference between the laser level and laying out the lines with a cheap old bubble level is only a few minutes.
In fact do it the easy way... Just screw a cleat to the wall using the level to "level" it. Then set the uppers on top of the cleat while you fasten them to the wall.
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Steve B wrote:

I am a believer in the "French Cleat." Not so much a believer that I want to start a new religion or anything like that, but your point about subsequent adjustment is considerably easier when using such the technique.
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On 8/1/2012 8:19 PM, Motor T wrote:

    Thank you all for suggestions. In our kitchen everything is cock-eyed. The sub-floor rises and falls like the sun. I do believe a laser will help (hopefully) keep things from rolling off the counter top. I'll let you know how things work out. We're patiently awaiting the cabinets to arrive. Thanks again.
--
Ed Mc
Nam Vet '66-'67
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No doubt you've already made up your mind. Here's my project I'm just finishing up, all used with just a 4' level. To me, a lazer level is not a magic wand if your project turns out well or not. My advice, put your money into a often used desired tool. https://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/August22012
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