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Sigma
Michigan State Fan
Fairhope, AL
Member since Dec 2005
3393 posts

Outdoor laser level
Getting ready to build a small deck and will need a laser level. Anybody gave a good recommendation?


eng08
LSU Fan
Member since Jan 2013
3568 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
Rent one


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Clames
LSU Fan
Member since Oct 2010
9375 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
I have a DeWalt 12V green crossline laser setup, works great. The red laser version is a bit less and there are some options from Bosch. It's a big investment for one small project though. Better off buying some levels, string, and string levels.


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bbvdd
Alabama Fan
Memphis, TN
Member since Jun 2009
16526 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
I built a pretty big patio and did not use one. Built a deck as well without one.

Run some level lines and go.


NOLAGT
Over there
Member since Dec 2012
8703 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
And dont work on it at night, barefoot, and step on one of those finishing nails that you tied your string too. No need to ask me how I know


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Bigbee Hills
Mississippi St. Fan
The Tombigbee Hills
Member since Feb 2019
91 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
You can buy an optical builder's level that not only checks for level but also for plumb and many other things like staking out straight lines, staking building corners, elevations, and lots more- for a fraction of the cost.

With it you can check for level and plumb in a snap and set your lines/ corners. You also look like a baw because very few folks nowadays know how to use one. (And they're missing out on one hell of a tool too!)

After a few YouTube videos and maybe some reading, you can be fairly proficient in using it, and when that happens, you have one of the handiest tools known to man.

With an outdoor laser level, if only used for this one project, I'd rent it, IMO. I have a Bosch red laser level (self leveling not rotary) with with something like a 225 foot range that's great for inside shops, the house, and early or late morning use outside, but honestly, for a deck, after setup etc., a good quality masonry string and a good quality line level set dead center of the span distance is just as fast, if not faster than the non-pro rotary and self leveling levels that I've used. Couple the line level method with a post level/ plumb square and you're good.

(FYI, if you considered an optical level, then the only downside is that when you're staking straight lines and setting building corners, you'll need a helper to be proficient, but not when checking level and plumb on deck posts, etc.)


Sigma
Michigan State Fan
Fairhope, AL
Member since Dec 2005
3393 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
Thanks for the info. I have an optical level with a graduated vertical stake, but this deck will be a one-man job.

This would be a bit of an investment...I’ll be using it plenty in the future so I’m looking at options I can use myself. Just looking to step into the laser level world from my optical. Ideally, I’d like to be able to setup a tripod or something similar, and have a laser line projected that I could reference.

Can I get by with a setup without a receiver, sort of like an indoor/outdoor level? Or do I need a receiver if I’m working in sunlight? If I’m missing something, let me know.


Bigbee Hills
Mississippi St. Fan
The Tombigbee Hills
Member since Feb 2019
91 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
Can't fault you for wanting to invest in a tool like that at all. Having something like that is a damned good thing to have when you need it. It's a friend-making tool too; they'll come out the woodwork to say hello and ask to borrow it.

I have only ever used them with a reciever. If I were going to buy one, I'd buy the reciever with it and be done with it. It increases their usable range and makes checking elevations a snap. I'm sure you could get by with the projected laser line, but you might wind up spending more in the future if you did need a receiver by not buying a package deal with the receiver included? I ask because I do not know tbh.

I'd also definitely make sure that whatever I buy has the capability to interface with a reciever in case you need it in the future, AND that the reciever has functions you want and has good reviews (the reviews part goes without saying). Topcon makes a good unit, but there's several out there who do, and there's also several who make garbage.

I'd be interested to hear a report on whichever unit you buy and get an OB review on it. I'm gonna buy one myself one of these days when the need arises.
This post was edited on 3/15 at 3:40 pm


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eng08
LSU Fan
Member since Jan 2013
3568 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
Again, probably rent a nice one now and see which one you like if you will drop some coin on it and use it a lot in the future.


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awestruck
Auburn Fan
somewhere outdoors
Member since Jan 2015
4178 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
On the cheap?

Water level it old school style. I'm sure you can do an internet search or buy the ends. However basically you just need to attach a clear piece of tubing to both ends of a garden house and fill the hose with water till it's visible on both ends. (probably tape them on) The water at either end will be the same. Have a Bosch and it's great however for one use this is near fool-proof and guaranteed to be spot on (with no learning curve) First house I helped build we used one of these. Pull diagonal lines to square.


Miketheseventh
LSU Fan
Member since Dec 2017
859 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
Everything i have ever built I used a string level. It’s cheap and they work great. Just make sure your line is tight at all times


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Sigma
Michigan State Fan
Fairhope, AL
Member since Dec 2005
3393 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
I think you guys have talked me into starting with string levels. Thanks for the info.


Martini
North Carolina Fan
Near Athens
Member since Mar 2005
43109 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
3, 4, 5 will get you square.

A good 4’ level will get you level and plumb and you can also use a plumb bob. And as above a water level.

LINK


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caddysdad
Member since Oct 2015
94 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
I had a framing business for years that did house additions and decks. We used water levels regularly. We put water soluble dye or food coloring in the tubes which made it easier to see. Cut the tube about three feet longer than you will need on both ends for the longest length required to make it easier to manage. When I say longest length I mean vertical heights on each end plus length of the tube on the ground. Trying to work with a tightly pulled tube is a recipe for great frustration. Buy a funnel to fill it with and use a wider diameter tube than you think you will need - at least 3/8" inside. You want the water to be able to move freely in the tube.

Laser levels are great tools but it's expensive for just one project. And don't forget the 3-4-5 rule for checking right angles. Last suggestion, buy at least a 3 levels - pocket, two footer and a 6 footer. I would have a 4 footer too and some bungee cords long enough to go around the beam/joist and hold the level in place.

Get some of those plastic post levels and put one on each post. That way you can check plumb easily and at any time and it leaves your hands free - LINK

One man projects are all about planning. Organize the work. Finish layout when you start. Dig all the footings at once. Set all the columns if you can at once which means pouring concrete, too. Consider putting temporary posts up to hold the framing for the deck while you get is square, etc. Your deck should have a slope to it for water to drain. Say 1/8" per foot so a 12' deep deck slopes an inch and a half.

I can give you some good advice. Drop me a message if you want to.


Sigma
Michigan State Fan
Fairhope, AL
Member since Dec 2005
3393 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
quote:

I had a framing business for years that did house additions and decks. We used water levels regularly. We put water soluble dye or food coloring in the tubes which made it easier to see. Cut the tube about three feet longer than you will need on both ends for the longest length required to make it easier to manage. When I say longest length I mean vertical heights on each end plus length of the tube on the ground. Trying to work with a tightly pulled tube is a recipe for great frustration. Buy a funnel to fill it with and use a wider diameter tube than you think you will need - at least 3/8" inside. You want the water to be able to move freely in the tube.


Thanks for the info. What exactly do these look like? Did you make these yourselves?


awestruck
Auburn Fan
somewhere outdoors
Member since Jan 2015
4178 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
We had one that used clear tubing that screwed onto both ends of a garden house. They were threaded the same as an outdoors facet and about a foot long.



Have seen whole lengths of clear tubing used but there's no reason. You just run water like normal filling the hose up then unscrew, put on ends, and topped to finish off (one end is already on). Key is to keep air out of line which is not too hard with two people. And with a garden hose being too tight was never a problem... however losing or spilling water is no good (at all)... as is allowing middle to get above either end for same reason.

Basically you see water on both ends at the same time and that's level. With a second person walk to first location and put a mark on level at both spots. Then one person moves while not spilling water to the next spot.... make level to original and mark it... same person to the next... and so on. The other person stays put and keeps on eye on staying level, which only matters when the other guy is set and marking his end, it can vary as he walks around (just don't spill or you start all over again).

Like he said deduct for fall from the marks and you're good to go.
eta: here's one on Amazon although a couple clamps and tubing would do; as would clear tube wrapped with tape (for size) and stuck into a hose (sure there's more ways)
This post was edited on 3/18 at 7:06 am


AutoYes_Clown
USA Fan
Baton Rouge, LA
Member since Oct 2012
3626 posts

re: Outdoor laser level
Im putting together a water level for a drainage project in my back yard. Ive borrowed a laser level before but this project will have line of sight issues. Ive been youtubing what I need. I have to use 100ft of 3/8" tubing and Im concerned on water bubbles. Anyone have tips on clearing the line?


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