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Levels measure true horizontal (level) and true vertical (plumb) either with vials (spirit levels) or sensors (electronic levels). These vial-type mechanisms are incorporated into rails of wood, plastic, aluminum or magnesium. The rail or body of the level may be solid, I-beam or box-beam. High-quality levels feature both top- and side-reading windows and non-adjustable vials. Brass or aluminum edges are featured on high-quality wood levels.

Level vials may be adjustable or non-adjustable, straight or bent, replaceable or permanent. Some vials are constructed of a precision-machined block of solid acrylic and ere virtually unbreakable. Lasers have been integrated into this tool, providing increased capability, while still employing bubble vials for leveling.

Electronic levels employ sensors rather than vials. One model uses an audio signal or colored lights to indicate level and plumb, another includes a visual display. More sophisticated models read angles as well as level and plumb and offer a reset button so the level can be recalibrated if dropped.

Laser technology is incorporated into some models, providing the ability to quickly and accurately locate level reference points over long distances. This is accomplished by projecting a beam of light up to 200'. Laser levels feature either self-leveling or manual leveling methods.

* Rotary laser levels rotate 360[degrees] and project a level reference point on all vertical surfaces within range.

* Pocket lasers are also available as a small, lightweight, easy-to-use alternative.

New features for electronic levels include having preset angles commonly used in construction, a self-leveling feature, and offering a graphical display that tells the user the direction and extent to rotate toward level or plumb.

Laser level accessories include a variety of mounting devices such as clamps and magnetic mounts that make setup and use easier and more convenient. Specially tinted glasses can extend the visible range of the laser light.

Better wood levels come with brass edges. These edges prevent chipping and help to protect the frame from distortion due to warping. Better aluminum levels come with top-reading windows, non-adjustable vials and protective end plates.

Levels are available in lengths up to 10'. Magnetic edges are also available to free the user's hands when used around ferrous metals. Some levels use graduated vials to help determine very shallow slope.

* Line levels are used where no fiat surface is available. For instance, a line level can be attached to a string stretched between two points, allowing the user to make an accurate comparison of heights between the two points. Chalk lines and plumb bobs are also used to mark the distance or compare heights.

When it comes to calculating angles or dealing with sloped surfaces, some electronic levels can read roof pitches, stair slope and drainage angles, and show them on an LCD display in degrees, percent slope or inches per feet (rise/run).

* A torpedo level, usually 9" long, is used for obtaining readings in close quarters. Magnetized models and models incorporating a battery-operated light for working with metal pipes and in dark areas are also available. Because of their compact size, mechanics, plumbers, electricians and homeowners often choose torpedo levels.

* Carpenter's levels are made of wood or metal (aluminum or magnesium). They employ bubble and spirit vials positioned in the center and both ends to check vertical and horizontal surfaces. Lasers have been integrated into this tool to provide increased capability, although bubble vials are still employed for leveling. Carpenter's levels are typically 24" to 48" long.
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Title Annotation:Hand Tools
Publication:Hardware Retailing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2006
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