Fast is fine but accuracy is everything. Check it out!

The common thread with all the projects I create these days can basically be called out as a continuous cycle of measure, cut, build. With that in mind, you can easily see how the quality of a project is going to rely heavily on the quality of tools you are working with. Here lately I’ve been working with The Home Depot which has exposed me to a tremendous amount of quality tools that all generally support the cycle of “measure, cut, build.” 

In my opinion, it’s hard to place a mark on which of these three steps carries the most weight when you’re creating something from nothing. But if I had to choose, I would place the pin on “measuring”. Whether your building tolerance is +/- 1” or +/- .0005”, knowing that you have a reliable means of measuring distances will make or break your project. 

When I’m moving around the shop and pulling a tape on different material for small projects, I lean on the Milwaukee 16’ tape measure. It’s small, compact, and can take a beating. On larger material however, I’ve been using the Milwaukee STUD tape measure. The name makes me chuckle a little bit but it really is fitting as this thing is quite the stud of a tape measure. Haha. Really though, check out the numbers: 27mm wide tape material, it can stand out of the body by a full 10’ before breaking over, and the body is reinforced so much that it can withstand an 80’ drop and still keep truckin. Out of all the cool stats, I really appreciate the 10’ stand out the most. There’s been too many occasions where I’m in a precarious spot and need the tape to reach just a tiny bit more in order to reach the target but it unfortunately breaks early requiring me to move a ladder, re-position, or just find a tougher tape (like this here STUD lol)

Moving beyond the basic tape measure will quickly land you in the world of laser measurement devices. These things have really come a long way in recent years. The handiest laser measure tool I’ve used lately is this new model from Bosch. It’s easy enough to use for the average home owner/DIYer but capable enough for the seasoned carpenter to leverage all of the awesome features it has. Aside from being accurate to within 1/16th at 400 feet it also has a full color display which will snap images of the project your working on. That image can then be marked up, associated to building notes the unit saves on board, and it doubles as an adjustable zoom screen so you can easily find your laser pointer in bright, outdoor conditions. It’s also worth mentioning that the unit will easily connect to your smartphone device via bluetooth connectivity so the user can download images directly using the MeasureOn app. For the average user, this unit may be a bit overkill. However, if you’re in the business of always crunching numbers for material quantities, this unit can be a real life saver. 

Of course laser measurement goes well beyond simple point and shoot applications and has extended into the realm of cross line laser coordinate systems. These devices will divide up your project into a X,Y, and Z coordinate system allowing you to rely on a steady, known reference point, for accurate dimensioning of material. For a basic up/down-left/right reference you really don’t need anything than more than a simple cross line laser. This new GLL30 fills this place in the market perfectly with a more than reasonable price of 45 bucks from The Home Depot. It comes with a handy adjustable mount for accurate positioning and will cast a brilliant bright red line up to 30’ indoors. With one simple button you can have an automatically level or plumb line from one side of your space to the other making a wide variety of jobs much easier. Everything from cabinets to overhead lighting can be greatly simplified by having a known reference. The simple fact is, not all construction winds up plumb/level/square when the contractor has packed up and left. Consequently, cross line laser levels from BOSCH have a uniquely perfect fitment in any homeowners lifestyle.

But let’s say you demand even more out of your cross line laser equipment than what you find in the GLL30. In that case you really need not look much farther than the BOSCH GLL3-3000. This space age laser level outputs 3 laser lines on the X,Y, and Z planes for an incredibly fast solution to squaring up a room. Unlike the unit mentioned above, this unit projects 360 degrees of laser line output giving you 100% coverage of a straight line on in all directions. The smaller, inexpensive models only project forward of the body and do not offer this 360 degree coverage. The GLL3-3000 features a self leveling mechanism and up to 200 feet of coverage in all directions with a tolerance of +/- 3/32” at 30’. Obviously this is really well suited for interior construction in all directions simplifying the installation of flooring, wall decking, exposed conduit or plumbing, and nearly anything else that needs to be plumb, level, square. BOSCH offers a commercial grade tripod similar to what you find under any surveying transit for around 70 bucks. I lucked out and purchased mine at a garage sale for a cool 20 bucks. Total win! Aside from linking up to a tripod this unit also talks directly to a smaller base fixture. The BM1 positioning device clips to multiple surfaces, stands on the floor with retractable feet, and mounts to drywall or wood with screws for quick and easy setup.

This space age laser level outputs 3 laser lines on the X,Y, and Z planes for an incredibly fast solution to squaring up a room. Unlike the unit mentioned above, this unit projects 360 degrees of laser line output giving you 100% coverage of a straight line on in all directions. The smaller, inexpensive models only project forward of the body and do not offer this 360 degree coverage. The GLL3-3000 features a self leveling mechanism and up to 200 feet of coverage in all directions with a tolerance of +/- 3/32” at 30’. Obviously this is really well suited for interior construction in all directions simplifying the installation of flooring, wall decking, exposed conduit or plumbing, and nearly anything else that needs to be plumb, level, square. BOSCH offers a commercial grade tripod similar to what you find under any surveying transit for around 70 bucks. I lucked out and purchased mine at a garage sale for a cool 20 bucks. Total win! Aside from linking up to a tripod this unit also talks directly to a smaller base fixture. The BM1 positioning device clips to multiple surfaces, stands on the floor with retractable feet, and mounts to drywall or wood with screws for quick and easy setup.

In all honesty, I’ve used all kinds of different things in my immediate surroundings as measurement devices. For instance, the belt around your waist can quickly be used as a measurement tool to see if that sofa is too wide to fit through the door. I’ve learned that the most important thing to remember as it relates to tolerances is understand the intent of what is happening. Sometimes a quick reference on you belt will answer the question at hand, and other times you may need a laser line to keep you within 3/32″ at 200′.

Thanks for stopping in to learn a bit more about these new measurement tools. All of these items are available through The Home Depot. This article is actually sponsored by them through their ProSpective campaign which involves paid content creators, like me and several others, who provide feedback, exposure, and reviews of current projects available to the market. Some of the links above are affiliate links and provide a small kickback for any sales associated with them. In a way, it helps to keep the entire machine running. Thanks so much for your support and stay safe out there!