Long before lasers,
the water level helped build the pyramids — the low-tech
tool has some definite advantages over expensive laser levels.
Besides saving you $200 or more, water levels work around
corners and never need recalibration. Electronic models like
Zircon's WL 25 Pro sound a tone to indicate level, so you can
use it by yourself, even when you can't see the other end of
the tube. The WL 25 has some improvements over previous models,
including an adjustable wall bracket that holds everything
stationary while you tug at its 25 feet of tubing, and better
feedback that indicates when you're higher than the reference
point. For larger projects, you can use it with up to 150 feet
of garden hose. It costs about $40.
Wood Is Good.
Hardwood levels have a beauty and impact
resistance that's tough for an aluminum extrusion to match.
Stanley's brassbound FatMax levels have reinforced rubber end
caps and thicker glass covers on the vials for better impact
resistance. Hermetically sealed bezels protect the vials from
moisture and fogging. The 4-foot model has a foldout,
flush-mounted rafter hook that keeps the level within arm's
reach and prevents falls. The 2-foot FatMax sells for $50; the
4-footer sells for $70.
Levelution's System Level includes two
2-foot levels and a 4-foot level that can be combined to make a
6- or 8-foot level. Sections are joined with high-strength
alignment plates and large easy-to-use knobs. The levels also
feature "keyed inserts" that receive removable accessories like
rafter hooks and magnets. WoodTacs are one of the coolest
accessories. These little pins lock into the keyed inserts and
can be driven into beams and headers for hands-free leveling or
into sheet goods to create a saw guide or straightedge. The
vials are adjustable. The 8-foot system level with a padded
case goes for about $275. The WoodTacs sell for $32.
The telescopic Plate
Level from Stabila makes plumbing even the tallest walls
easier. The level is now available in three sizes: 5 to 7 feet,
6 to 10 feet, and 7 to 12 feet. Stand-offs on the side and
bottom prevent warped lumber or debris on the floor from
producing a bad reading. As with other Stabila levels, the
vials are set in acrylic blocks and epoxied into the housing,
making adjustments unnecessary, according to the manufacturer.
Prices start at $210.
aluminum that's 40% thicker than what's used for most
cross-over boxes, the Seal-Tite Storage Box from Deflecta
Shield promises greater security. Two permanent aluminum trays
and a removable tool tray keep little stuff from sinking to the
bottom, and a three-position lock resists prying and tampering.
The self-opening lid has a high-dome shape for greater strength
and weather resistance. Prices start at $400.
For many builders
and remodelers, the front seat of a pickup is the home office,
and things can get a little disorganized. The Cab Commander
from Duluth Trading is a heavy-duty nylon organizer that fits
over the passenger seat's headrest and provides plenty of
pockets for organizing papers and other office essentials. The
bag is secured with 11/2-inch nylon webbing, which doubles as a
shoulder strap. A side-squeeze buckle makes installation and
removal easy. The bag sells for $30.
Duluth Trading Company
The secret to Slide
System's line of toolboxes, racks, and truck accessories is a
special aluminum channel mounted on the bed rail. The boxes and
racks can then be positioned anywhere in the bed, and removal
is much easier. After unloading the day's materials, the box
can be slid to the tailgate for easy access during the rest of
the workday. The drill-free system uses the stake pockets for
mounting, and the low-profile design means that you can use the
system with bed covers, racks, and toppers from other
manufacturers. It sells for $1,028.
Truck caps are
great, but climbing inside one to retrieve tools or material
every day is tough on the knees and back. A better way to get
at your stuff is with an Extendo-Bed System. It operates
something like a full-extension drawer slide and provides easy
access to the farthest reaches of the bed. Latches prevent
getting run over when you open the tailgate on a grade, and the
design can be customized depending on your needs. The model
shown costs about $2,000, plus shipping.