Q. It sometimes takes me forever to level the base for my builder’s level. Any tricks?

A. Clayton DeKorne responds: A lot depends on the speed of the vials and the thread of the leveling screws. Leveling a cheap instrument with slow vials and coarse leveling screws can be maddening. Even so, following this basic procedure each time can help:

Rough-level the tripod.If you’re setting up on a slope, place two legs of the tripod on the downhill side, and the remaining leg on the uphill side. The table of the tripod can quickly be "eyeballed" level by repositioning the uphill leg.

Set base. Before you begin leveling the scope, make sure the thumb wheels on the leveling base are centered on the threads of each leveling post.

Rule of thumb. To level the scope, start by turning the scope over one pair of leveling screws. Turn both thumb wheels in opposite directions at the same time (your thumbs should move toward or away from each other). The bubble moves in the same direction as your left thumb.

Next, turn the scope until it lines up over the next pair of leveling screws, and level the scope, again turning both thumb wheels at the same time. Make a final check, rotating the scope over each leveling point to make sure the bubble remains centered.