Best Buys: Laser levels

(National) Dec. 9, 2004 - A laser level commercial, targeted to the klutz-y do-it-yourselfer, says buying a Strait-Line laser level will make many household tasks a lot easier, "Its 30-foot laser line will get everything laser straight from wallpaper to frames to shelves."

Consumer Reports' Peter Sawchuck tested ten laser levels, including Strait-Line. Some send out a horizontal beam of light. Others also send a vertical beam.

The laser levels ranged in price from $35 to $280.

Sawchuck said some had problems, "The less expensive units give a much weaker beam of light. And, if there is any curvature at all in the wall, the beam starts to break up and then disappears."

Another problem, he says, was most of the less expensive laser levels have to be leveled by hand. They have an air bubble, just like the old-fashioned levels. And, most mount on the wall, which can leave marks.

More expensive laser levels can sit on a tripod, and they're self-leveling, which makes them more accurate.

The $100 Black & Decker Crossfire got Consumer Reports' top rating, but testers say for most do-it-yourselfers an old-fashioned level is just fine. You should be able to get a good one for about $25.

If you're looking for a holiday gift for a do-it-yourselfer, you can get some ideas in's free Holiday Giving Guide, where you'll find tips on buying a host of gifts from tools to electronics to cooking gear.

posted 6:00pm by Chris Rees

Copyright © 2004 Consumers Union of U.S. , Inc. All Rights Reserved.