Spirit levels


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Wheal Triumph

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8 Nov 2020
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I'm gonna start doing my home up soon I have most of the tools I think I will need. Spirit levels are my next to buy, need for flooring, decking/slabs, curtain rails, kitchen units, shelving and maybe to see if things are flat.

I've seen a few and the ones I seem to like are
These or These ones

I will need 400-450mm length for some cupboard shelving.

Are the ones above good? Which one? Is there similar quality set for similar prices?

Most spirit levels are good for what your doing. If you go to a store and test any that take your fancy. Simply place on a flat surface look at where the bubble is, rotate 180 degrees and see if the bubble settles in the same place. If so, it’s good. Now try the vertical bubbles the same way.

If you want to buy a really nice level try looking at the Stabilia levels, I personally buy the R levels.

When using a level for a setting out a wall or something longer than your level, as you mark the wall say, and move it along, rotate the level end to end each time you move it along, this effectively cancels out any inaccuracies.
From your list of jobs i would highly recommend looking into laser levels, vastly superior in levelling over an area such as decking, slabs and joists, many people underestimate the impact of cumulative errors in these scenarios, of course you cant beat a spirit level at times but i will say hands down a cross-line laser level is more versatile, first fix; besides leveling to a singular datum of a large area, the laser can be used for alignment, plates on stud walls, headers for door linings, kitchen units, sockets, switches can all be set to a single perfectly level line cast virtually 360 degrees around a room or along a single line down a corridor through doorways etc (picture the crucial first run of boards for a floor) curtain rails and shelves can be levelled visually whilst you have free hand to fix brackets etc in place with ease.

they can as expensive or as cheap as you care to make them, i personally started with a stanley cubix ~£50 currently i use a DeWalt DCE089D1G and at work we use a hilti site laser circa £1600 o_O

I know all of the above is totally aside from your original question and i do apologise, in regards to levels those stanley sets are fine, I use stabila I would advocate stabila but stay away from the 70-2 Series types as they are too flimsy IMO

the 96 series are great, 196 are i think the same with handles and the type R are also great but probably not necessary for yourself.

in terms of lengths most of the industry get by on a boat level, 600, 1200 and 1800 if budget is tight id buy one at a time and get the best you can in the size you need for that part of the project, you can always attach a smaller level to a straight edge to cover a span if you're in a pinch and regardless of what you buy, use string lines they are overlooked by too many.

i hope some of my ramblings are of use to you and please feel free to message me if you are close by even if its just to show you how fantastic a laser level is! :ROFLMAO:
I've seen a few and the ones I seem to like are
These or These
From the first of your links, I happen to have the short torpedo level and the long (1200 ? 1500 ? mm) level. I also have a 600mm stabila digital - awesome.
These 3 sizes cover everything I need. The short magnetic one for making sure electrical boxes are fitted level, the big one for runs of cupboards, shed, etc, etc, and the 600m as the utility level that's easiest to use and more accurate than the shorty.
Stabila are my first choice, milwaukee / empire are worth a look and the Stanley ones are fine (one bought for a job, the other snagged when it went on sale).
Maybe it's just my levels but are there any out there where the bubble is actually the same width as the markings on the vial? That couple of mm "judgment " always bugs me.
Take a pack of playing cards with you to your local DIY store. Put the level on the floor and use the cards to get the level reading horizontal, then turn the level around 180° and chech it again. If the level remains central, it's a good one.
I‘ve found most branded’ ‘bubble’ levels to be accurate enough. I have had a Stabila one about 2’ long thats about thirty years old and still good. I bought a 6’ Stanley one to do a bit of decking at the back of the house and that was ok - I realise a laser level might have been the choice of professionals. I also have an old 4’ Rabone Chesterman rescued from my dad’s garage which was slightly bent sideways but still reasonably accurate in use. I’ve straightened it a bit to see if its maleable until I get around to trying careful application of clamps, blocks and a strong-back - its worth a shot!
I have 24" and 48" Stabila 196-2 levels which seem quite accurate (my eyes are likely the limiting factor in judging this), I've also got a 72" Wickes level that's definitely 'good enough' for blockwork/bricklaying.

I'm going to be doing some garden landscaping this summer which will require matching levels over longer distances and while I could whip up a water level, I'll use it as an 'excuse' to buy a 3-axis green laser level

Something like
I bought a set of 3 from Lidl - bright yellow stabila copies

surprisingly spot on level - sadly I bent the long one a bit - the steel is a bit thin.

for decking and a kitchen I’d use a laser level.

a red one is fine outside - just use it in the evening
I bought a long (6ft?) own brand B&Q level and checked the entire stock in both local stores before I found one that was accurate for all 3 bubbles. I’ve had it for years and it’s still spot on. We have started an extension today and I checked it last night to make sure it was still ok and all good.
Take a pack of playing cards with you to your local DIY store. Put the level on the floor and use the cards to get the level reading horizontal, then turn the level around 180° and chech it again. If the level remains central, it's a good one.
You don't really need a pack of cards just put the level on any near level horizontal surface and providing the bubble ends up in the same position in the phial when turned end for end it will be accurate.
Most laser levels are pretty good, some on here say the green light ones are better, but I only have red so can't comment on that, but one thing I found it useful for was tiling, especially where penetrations through the tiles are needed, position the laser cross hairs on the centre of the needed penetration then dry fit the tile and mark where the cross is.