Get Back to Basics: Learn About Levels

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A level is an essential part of any complete toolbox, but not everyone knows how to use it properly. The way that you use this particular tool should be determined by the length of the area being worked on. Levels come in a variety of different sizes and types, and for good reason.

You do not need a 4-foot long level to accurately work on a short distance. On the flip side, you can’t possibly get an accurate reading from a mini level if the area at-hand is 20 feet long. The tips below will help you get familiar with the different kinds of levels and when to use each one.

  • Short/Long Level – Short levels are usually about two feet long, and are ideal for hanging pictures on walls and leveling other areas with short distances. Long levels can run up to four, six, or eight feet long. Use a piece of wood to extend the surface when leveling if necessary.
    Learning how to accurately read the bubbles inside the vials on a short or long carpenter’s or mason’s level is critical, otherwise the tool is useless. The goal is to get the bubble as centered as possible, and some levels even allow you to read angles.
  • Water Level – Ideal for distances greater than six feet. Start by putting the main part of the water level on the side of the designated area. Next, place the tube on the item being leveled and open the valves. Optimally, you want to hear a steady beeping sound. If the rate of beeping is high, you are also too high. If you are too low, no sound will be detected at all.
  • Laser Level – For distances that are between 50 and 100 feet, and for heavily involved projects, it might be best to rent a laser level. The laser does all the work for you, but be sure not to look directly at it.