What Is a Level Tool (and Why Does Every Builder Need One)?

by Jenna Whitaker

Oct 13, 2023 10 minute read

What Is a Level Tool (and Why Does Every Builder Need One)?

Imagine trying to build a house without a level tool. It's like navigating a treacherous sea without a compass. Your final masterpiece would be a wobbly mess, lacking the precision and beauty it deserves. And let's not even talk about the nightmare of hanging kitchen cabinets or trimming out a door without this trusty companion.

What Are Levels Used For?

Enter the level tool, the unsung hero of construction and DIY projects. Its purpose? To reveal the hidden truth about surfaces – whether they dare to be horizontal (level) or proudly stand vertical (plumb). This humble instrument holds the power to transform ordinary materials into perfectly aligned structures that defy gravity and ooze sophistication. 

At the heart of the level tool family lies the spirit level, the stalwart companion of builders around the world. Picture a delicate bubble, suspended in a liquid-filled vial, confidently revealing the secrets of balance and orientation. With a glance, it whispers, "Fear not, for this surface is level, and that one is plumb." Simple yet effective, the spirit level has served generations of craftsmen with unwavering loyalty.

But wait, there's more! Prepare to be dazzled by the pinnacle of leveling technology – the laser level. This futuristic marvel takes precision to another dimension. Imagine, with a press of a button, beams of light effortlessly projecting flawless lines of level or plumb onto any surface. It's a dream come true for layout work, where speed and accuracy dance hand in hand.

However, when it comes to physically confirming the positioning of an object, the laser's fleeting lines fall short. That's when the bubble vial takes center stage, ready to deliver the final verdict. With its gentle resting on the workpiece or a firm butt against it, it ensures that everything is "on the level." No more doubts, no more second-guessing. Just pure confidence in the quality and precision of your work. 

How Do You Calibrate a Spirit Level?

If you want your trusty spirit level to perform its leveling wizardry flawlessly, calibration is the name of the game. Don't worry, it's not as daunting as it sounds. Let me walk you through the steps:

1. Find a flat surface and place your spirit level on it. Note where the bubble settles, as it indicates precise measurements.

2. Flip the level end over end and observe the bubble's movement. A trustworthy level will return the bubble to its original position, confirming its accuracy.

3. If your level needs adjustment, look for replaceable vials. Fine-tune their position to restore harmony. A twist or nudge can bring your level back to top form.

4. If your level lacks replaceable vials, you have options. You can say goodbye to the faulty level or use tape to temporarily silence a misbehaving bubble. Improvise and continue leveling with confidence.

What Are the Outer Lines For?

💡 Spirit level vials often feature two sets of lines. When the bubble rests in the center between the inner lines, it signifies a level surface. However, if the bubble touches one of the outer lines, it reveals a 2-percent grade, equivalent to approximately ¼ inch per foot of run. This precise slope ensures proper drainage for waste lines, sidewalks, and rain gutters, optimizing their functionality.

How to Use a Laser Level

Laser levels are versatile tools that come in various models, each with its unique features. Some laser levels boast the added advantage of built-in bubble levels, guaranteeing their own levelness. However, if you don't find a bubble level on your specific model, fret not. Many models offer a self-leveling feature, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions for your particular laser level. 

Different projects call for different laser levels, but they often require setup on a tripod or a level surface like a table. Once positioned, adjust the height to your desired level, especially when determining the perfect bottom edge for a large, framed piece of art to adorn your wall.

Once your laser level is impeccably leveled, the beam it projects becomes a beacon of precision. Whether it's a larger laser level using suction to stick to walls or a smaller variant, the underlying principle remains the same. With a level tool, the projected beam remains perfectly horizontal, ensuring accurate alignment for your project.

So, whether you're a seasoned builder, a budding DIY enthusiast, or simply a lover of all things level, never underestimate the power of this unassuming tool. It’ll save you a lot of trouble in the long run!