5 Best Level Tools for the Workshop in 2020

After thorough research, we believe that the best level tool for the workshop is the Tavool Self Leveling Laser Level Tool. It has a user-friendly design thanks to its self-leveling capabilities that provide accuracy to within four degrees. You can also switch between displaying horizontal, vertical, and cross lines. But most of all we liked that it came with a magnetic mount that allows you to use this tool hands-free.

To create our guide for the best levels, we looked at the following criteria: level type, display, size, and additional features. When choosing between manual versus digital levels, we know that the most popular options tend to be spirit levels and laser levels so we presented a good balance of both. But we also focused on compact and heavy-duty models that would be best either for the home or on the job site. And with laser levels, we wanted robust options that gave users the greatest level of control and flexibility. Keep reading to learn more about our criteria and to shop for other high-quality level tools for the workshop.

5 Best Levels

 #1  Tavool Self Leveling Laser Level

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: A self-leveling laser level that can offer three display modes with the ability to project up to 50 feet proves this is the best digital level.

Pros
  • Best digital
  • Indicates when accuracy has shifted to beyond 4 degrees
  • Toggle between vertical, horizontal, and cross laser displays
Cons
  • Not ideal for outdoor use

If you’re not a fan of analog tools, then a laser-based, self-leveling option is going to be your best bet. We’ve picked this option from Tavool as the Top Pick because we think it’s the best digital level and one of the best laser levels we found through our research. While it’s best for indoor use (as the red laser isn’t as easily visible for outdoor projects), we like that you can project the laser up to 50 feet. And all self-leveling displays offer accurate readings to within four degrees.

In addition to that, you can shift the line laser level between vertical, horizontal, and cross laser displays. We like that this pick comes with a magnetic mount that can be connected to a tripod so you can operate it hands-free — giving you the ability to actively mount or hang items while this tool projects the level markings. This compact laser level comes with four AA batteries and a carrying case to keep it protected between uses with a total runtime of 15 to 20 hours before you need to change the batteries. This laser level tool will help you make the most accurate cuts when you’re using your best tile saw.

 #2  3M Johnson Torpedo Level

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best torpedo level for plumbers because of its compact nine-inch length and ability to display plumb, level, and 45-degree readings.

Pros
  • Best on a budget
  • 3 block vials that read plumb, level and 45 degrees
  • Non-conductive and non-corrosive design
Cons
  • Plastic frame has the potential to crack

When you’re working in tight spaces, an oversized level doesn’t make sense. So, we’ve selected this heavy-duty option from 3M as the best torpedo level for plumbers. The small nine-inch length makes it perfect for working in more confined locations — like under a sink. But the other reason we think this is the best torpedo level for pipefitters is that it’s a classic spirit level that displays plumb, level, and 45-degree readings thanks to the three vials.

The large vials are easy to read and the v-groove edge is designed to easily fit on a pipe or conduit. The small size is also complemented by the fact that the ends are tapered so you can slip it into your pocket between uses as you work. You’ll also appreciate that the bright orange frame is non-conductive and non-corrosive for improved durability. If you’re doing work at home, you might also like our guide to the best chisels.

 #3  Stanley 8-Inch Magnetic Torpedo Level

Award: BEST FOR DIY PROJECTS

WHY WE LIKE IT: One of the best tools for DIYers and their home improvement projects that shows plumb, level, and 45-degree readings, with a magnetic strip that lets you work hands-free when need be.

Pros
  • 3 vials to easily read the most common orientations
  • Magnetic strip allows for hands-free use
  • Made of durable high impact ABS plastic
Cons
  • V-groove is on non-magnetic side of level

The average person may not need more high tech laser levels. So, we picked this option from Stanley as the best bubble level because of its compact size and user-friendly design. While it’s a standard spirit level, we think it’s the best spirit level set because it features a magnetic strip and is only eight inches long.

This is a gamechanger since a magnetic level means that you can use this tool hands-free — a common pain point for anyone that’s used a level in the past. More importantly, we like that this is another spirit level that has three vials that display plumb, level, and 45 degrees. It’s also made from durable high impact ABS plastic and has tapered ends so you can slip it into your tool belt or pocket — proving that it’s one of the best tools for any DIYer to own. Speaking of the best DIY tools, you’ll definitely want to read our guide to the best chainsaw.

 #4  Tacklife 50 Feet Self Leveling Laser Level

Award: BEST FOR INDOOR USE

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best laser level for builders to push through indoor projects thanks to the magnetic mount, 50-foot projection, and the ability to shift between manual and automatic modes.

Pros
  • An excellent option for builders
  • Magnetic mount base allows for hands-free operation
  • Self-leveling with horizontal, vertical, and cross display options
Cons
  • Laser display can be harder to see in bright indoor light

When you’re mounting larger items like cabinetry or larger wall hangings, a standard handheld level might not be the most practical tool for the task. We liked this pick from Tacklife because it can be mounted for hands-free use — making it the best laser level for builders. While this is a relatively standard feature among laser levels, it’s still important if you’re attempting to find and mark your correct positioning before hanging larger items. The bright red laser display is great for high contrast against walls.

As is standard with laser levels, this option is also self-leveling and can project up to 50 feet with indoor use being the optimal scenario. You’ll also get the magnetic mounting base, a carrying pouch, and two AA batteries. The level can run for up to 20 hours before you need to change the batteries. You can also switch between horizontal, vertical, and cross laser displays and you’ll appreciate the accuracy to within four degrees. But you’ll also like that you can switch between automatic and manual modes, which is a big plus if you prefer to double-check the projections before mounting or hanging anything. Another necessary mounting tool can be found in our guide to the best nail gun.

 #5  Hychika 50 Feet Self Leveling Laser Level

Award: BEST QUALITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best laser level for homeowners that can switch between manual and automatic mode, with an included magnetic mount for hands-free operation and confident readings that are within four degrees of accuracy.

Pros
  • Great for homeowners with an accuracy to within 4 degrees
  • Displays vertical, horizontal, and cross laser indicators
  • Comes with magnetic mount, batteries and carrying pouch
Cons
  • Red laser display isn’t compatible for outdoor use

Our Best Quality recommendation is for this Hychika self-leveling laser level. Whether you’re a DIYer or a professional, if you’re working on a larger project where you need to be hands-free, you’re going to appreciate this option. The Hychika model can project lasers up to 50 feet for indoor use, with the option to switch between the manual and automatic self-leveling modes. In their operational mode, you can choose to display the vertical, horizontal, or cross displays. And all self-leveling readings are accurate to within four degrees. This is why we think it’s the best laser level for homeowners and the best laser level for hanging pictures.

This is another battery-operated level that comes with two AA batteries and a carrying pouch to keep it protected between uses. You’ll also get a magnetic mount that allows for that hands-free operation when you need it. This level is designed for longevity as you can operate it for up to 20 hours before you need to change the batteries. If you want the best for your next home project, you might also want to read our guide to the best cordless drill.

How We Decided

Level tools are a must-have item whether you’re a professional in the construction industry or just a tinkerer at home. To create our guide, we focused on the following key features — level type, display, size, and additional features. In our guide, we focused on two spirit levels and three laser levels.

With our spirit levels, all of them were torpedo-style, meaning that they both had three vials that displayed plumb, level, and 45-degree readings. While this isn’t always the case when you shop for a laser level, all of our laser level recommendations were self-leveling models with two of them giving you the option to switch between automatic and manual modes.

We also know that the display is going to matter to many people. If you’re working with smaller projects, a manual spirit level may be preferable. But laser levels are ideal when you need to work on larger projects where a handheld level wouldn’t be realistic. With our laser level recommendations, all of them give you the freedom to shift between vertical, horizontal, or cross displays.

All of our level tool recommendations were fairly compact. Even the classic spirit level models were between eight and nine inches long. That made them perfect for use in smaller spaces and to put in a pocket or tool belt between uses. Our laser level picks all came with a carrying pouch and are designed to be handheld or mounted on a tripod.

Best Level Tool for the Workshop Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Type of Level
    Even though the main purpose of a level is to make sure that items are properly oriented either vertically (plumb) or horizontally (level), there are many different types of levels that you can choose from depending on the task. You can choose from specialty levels such as torpedo, bull’s-eye, plumb bob, post, or two and four-foot i-beam levels.
  2. Display
    With levels, you usually have two options, classic vials with bubble indicators or the more modern laser displays. Laser levels are great if you’re planning to pre-mark a wall before hanging or mounting a larger item such as cabinetry. But if you’re simply trying to hang a picture or mirror, you’ll be better off with a classic level also known as a spirit level that has the vials with a bubble that indicates when your item is perfectly plumb or level.
  3. Size
    Depending on your project, you may need a larger or smaller level. For the average household, a torpedo level that is usually no more than a foot, or even a two-foot level should be sufficient for most DIY projects. For professionals, the four-foot I-beam level might be preferable or even some of the more advanced laser levels.
  4. Additional Features
    This isn’t always required for most people, but some levels can do more than display plumb and level indicators. Some of the more advanced laser levels can even include useful options like stud finders or the ability to self-level.

Level Tool for the Workshop FAQs

What is the best spirit level on the market?

The best spirit level is going to work properly to display at least level and plumb — although many also include a 45-degree vial. In our guide, we recommend the 3M Johnson Torpedo Level or the Stanley 8-Inch Magnetic Torpedo Level.

Why do some levels have two vials?

Some spirit levels come with two vials so that whether you’re using the level on its top or bottom edge, you’ll still be able to accurately get a reading.

How accurate are bubble levels?

Bubble levels tend to be pretty accurate as long as you’re using them properly. Usually, spirit levels have an accuracy to within plus or minus a half a millimeter or 0.005 inches.

Can a bubble level be wrong?

Bubble levels tend to be fairly accurate tools. With that being said, if the vials haven’t been properly installed in the level, there’s a chance that your readings could be inaccurate. If you’re concerned that your spirit level is defective, test it by placing it on a flat surface that you know is perfectly horizontal. Use all four sides of the level to check if the surface is level. If the results vary between orientations, then there’s a good chance that your level isn’t calibrated properly.

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Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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