Lasers are commonly associated with precision, high visibility, and straight-line attributes so it is but natural that they would be used for levelling and alignment.
Of the several kinds of such laser levels none beats a Cross-Line Laser Level for convenience, versatility, accuracy, and affordability.
By virtue of projecting either or both a vertical line and a horizontal line, a Cross-Line Laser Level is a levelling multi-tool as it by itself accomplishes tasks that used to be done by three or four traditional methods including chalking out straight lines, marking intersections and cornering, and in a pinch even improvising plumb lines (i.e. even if it does not have two-point plumb-line feature) provided the vertical laser line has a 180° arc.
For the most part it eliminates spirit levels, T-squares, rules, pencils, chalk, twine, tape, tape-measures – and also reduces time and tedium!
Moreover, Cross-Line Laser Levels simplify and expedite tasks that previously used to be done by rigorous methods using acquired skills. It allows a layman to accomplish what could only be done by a skilled handyman or tradesman.
Cross-Line Laser Levels come in either green or red. All other things being equal, the human eye is more sensitive to the colour green than red, and in bright ambient light, a green laser line is more readily and easily visible than a red one which will appear faint and dim. On the other hand, between a red laser and a green laser of the same quality, the red one will be markedly cheaper. Also, a red laser line requires considerably less power than a green one; as a consequence, battery life is distinctly better in red laser units than in green ones.
Almost all DIY cross-line laser levels have self-levelling functionality but apart from that different kits have different features and strengths. Here are some criteria to consider:
• Green or red beams.
• The laser lines’ lengths
• The laser lines’ angles or arcs.
• The distance at which the lines are visible to the naked eye in good light.
• A third (vertical) laser line projected on the plane to the ‘side’.
• The fineness or thickness of the laser lines.
• Pendulum or gimbal lock.
• Dedicated switch for each beam.
• Additional plumb points (dots).
• Fine-adjustment knob.
• Bracket or mount as may enhance the functionality of the laser level.
Here are our top units:
Last update on 2021-09-24 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
Let’s start with our review of our best-pick device:
Dewalt’s kit is expensive but unmatched accuracy, dedicated buttons, side vertical line, 180° angle beams, and ultra-bright laser lines make it a runaway winner.
Dewalt’s DW089K-XJ goes one up on the usual cross-line laser level because it has a third side line-beam in addition to the horizontal and vertical ones. All three lines have a full 180° angle.
These lasers have an accuracy rating of ± 0.3 millimetres/metre. In fact, this is one of the most accurate of laser levels. This kit self-levels provided it is not placed at an angle exceeding 4° of the horizontal. If it fails to self-level the laser beam will keep flashing. To project angled straight lines you can bypass the self-levelling feature by tilting the kit to more than 15°.
The beams’ visibility range is rated to 15 metres. With an optional laser detector, the range is extended to 50 metres. This laser level’s beams are powerful and very bright; it is one of the brightest red lasers with excellent visibility.
The vertical beams (front and side) as a group (that is, maintaining 90° between them) can be fine-tuned and aligned using the adjustment knob on the top of the unit.
It has three buttons, one for each beam; this design is more natural to use and is more convenient than pressing a single button multiple times to turn on and off different beams, which is a fiddly business.
When the battery gets low a red warning light flashes.
With the wall-mounting bracket, the laser can be swivelled through a 180° angle. In conjunction with self-levelling capability, swivelling aids in calibration.
This laser level is compatible with Dewalt’s floor-to-ceiling pole which enhances the laser’s usefulness and precision.
Granted, this is an expensive laser level but it is a professional-oriented kit, is virtually flawless, and is of premium quality.
It comes with a rugged, heavy-duty carrying case, a wall-mount bracket and 4 AA batteries.
Dewalt provides one year of free service and a three-year warranty.
- One of the most accurate of cross-line laser levels with one of the brightest of laser beams.
- Each of the three laser beams has a 180° arc.
- Three separate buttons for each of the three beams.
- The price.
Hanmatek robust little kit covers the bases – including self-levelling and manual mode – admirably well and is rated to IP54 protection yet has a very low price.
Hanmatek cross-line laser level is available in both green and red beams. Each beam has an accuracy rating of ±2.5 millimetres. The accuracy is actually very good and short-range accuracy is near-perfect. The horizontal line is 10 metres and the vertical line, 5 metres.
Both lines project very well and brightly to about 5 metres. The vertical line, however, starts fading and becomes fainter the nearer it is to its endpoints.
The auto-levelling capability will level the kit if it is within 4° of horizontal in the first place. As long as it is out of level the LED will flash red, and when it self-levels it will become steady green. Its levelling accuracy is ±2 millimetres/metre.
It has a slide switch to turn off auto-levelling (i.e. ‘manual mode’) so that you may project tilted or angled laser beams.
This laser level is threaded for tripods and can be attached to a magnetic swivelling bracket.
It is rated to IP54 protection, i.e. it is dustproof and waterproof, and its housing is crash-proof to one metre.
If you feel you may need instructions, be forewarned that they verge on the incomprehensible.
This laser level is so compact as to be downright tiny but it is tough and robust.
It comes with a canvas carry case and two batteries.
When you consider Hanmatek’s kit’s price in conjunction with its quality, it is a real steal and is a deserving Value Pick.
Hanmatek provides a two-year warranty.
- Extremely accurate laser lines in such an inexpensive kit rates as a ‘double pro’.
- Tough and rugged as befits its IP54 rating.
- The price – and the top value for money.
- Laser lines grow faint as they near their end-points.
- The fractured grammar and mangled syntax in the instructions may be funny to some but those who need instructions will be out on a limb.
This reliably accurate and very bright red laser from Hychika sips batteries and has the basic features yet is very small and light – in size, weight, and price!
Hychika’s laser level has a stated range of 15 metres and it is good to that distance in dim light conditions. Its accuracy is rated to ±0.9 millimetres/metre. Hychika is probably not pushing the numbers much here because this is indeed a very accurate laser level, especially for such a low-priced kit.
Though not quite 180°, each beam makes an impressively wide arc.
For a red laser, this one pops. It is nearly as visible in bright ambient light as an ordinary green laser. On the brightness scale, this one’s up there.
This kit will self-level within 6 seconds so long as its initial position is within ±4° of horizontal. As long as it is out of level, the LED on top will flash red; if it self-levels the LED will turn steady green. You can project angled lines with the kit at an incline by locking the pendulum to turn off self-levelling.
It can be rotated through 360 degrees.
The laser level has a threaded hole so it can be mounted on a tripod or screwed to the useful L Base which has remarkably strong magnets that will let you attach the laser level with confidence to any metallic plane.
It conserves batteries better than most other cross-line laser levels.
The pendulum can be locked to avoid damaging the unit when it is being transported.
Hychika’s kit is tiny and weighs a mere 235 grams. The adjective ‘mere’ may also be used for its price which is so low that this laser level could just as well replace the Hanmatek as our Value Pick.
It comes with a padded cloth bag, the L Base, and two AA batteries.
Hychika provides a two-year warranty.
- An unusually powerful and bright red laser.
- While having all the features found in its class of cross-line lasers, this kit is tiny and unusually lightweight.
- At its price, it is a super value for money.
- The single switch design.
- Auto-levelling takes up to 6 seconds.
Bosch’s mid-priced ‘combi’ has the essentials like self-levelling, adds plumb points to its super-accurate lasers, and further enhances usability with a mount and plate.
Bosch’s GCL 2-15 is billed as combining ‘the advantages of point and cross-line lasers in one tool.’ That is because it has horizontal and vertical laser beams plus plumb points. The laser lines can be used in conjunction with the plumb points, and span them, especially when the unit is on the rotating mount.
The GCL 2-15 is a red laser. The sister GCL 2-15 G model is more expensive and has green beams.
The lasers have a working range of 15 metres and an accuracy of ±0.3 millimetres/metre. In low light, the laser is visible to its rated 15-metre range. However, the beams do not have as long a length as other lasers in its class. On the other hand, the plumb point dots are a real bonus for tasks requiring precise vertical alignment. These have an accuracy of ±0.7 millimetres/metre.
It has an on/off switch, a laser line button, and a plumb points button.
Bosch’s laser level will self-level provided the initial angle is within 4° of the horizontal. It can be locked to prevent self-levelling so as to project diagonal straight lines.
It has a pendulum lock to allow it to be transported without damage.
When the laser level is attached to the RM1 mount, it can conveniently be rotated. The mount can be screwed to a wall; also, as it is magnetic, the kit can be attached to any metallic surface.
The ingenious two-sided target plate improves visibility of the laser line by reflecting it with one side while allowing the laser to pass through the other transparent side so that it remains visible behind the plate.
It weighs a relatively light 998 grams.
A canvas case with belt loop, the target plate, the RM1 mount, and an AA battery are included.
Bosch provides a one-year warranty extendable to three years if the purchase is registered within 28 days.
- A cross-line laser level and plumb points rolled into one tool.
- The pendulum lock, if used during transportation, will extend the life of the laser level and also protect its accuracy.
- The multi-use RM1 mount is a real advantage as it enhances the laser level’s functionality.
- The lengths of the laser lines leave something to be desired.
A mid-priced laser with solid specs and features, Huepar’s offering has bright and powerful laser lines but otherwise is hit-and-miss and includes some caveats.
Huepar’s laser level is rated to have an accuracy of ±2 millimetres/10 metres. Unfortunately, in practice the accuracy of this laser level is iffy. Moreover, because of quality control deficiencies a few units that are out of whack slip through.
It is not only the accuracy ratings that are overblown; Huepar’s materials are clogged with specs and figures about expansion angles, compensation ranges, &c. but, as the adage says, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – the proof of the pudding is not in its ingredients!
Consider that this is a Class II laser with an IP54 rating but the front lens of this laser level is only a breakable plate glass and the magnetic base is of a cheapish plastic.
The one thing we can say is that this kit’s laser lines are bright and are visible outdoors in good light at 15 metres and in very low light at up to 25 metres, which is impressive. The range is extended to 45 metres if you use the optional receiver.
Although this laser level will self-level as long as its initial position is within ±4° of horizontal, its self-levelling is not reliable. The pendulum can be locked to turn off self-levelling and project angled lines. However, the locking mechanism is poorly-engineered and stiff.
It comes with a 360° magnetic base, a target plate, a carry pouch and four AA batteries.
Huepar provides a one-year warranty extendable to three years if you register your purchase.
- Very bright laser lines that are visible outdoors in fairly bright light.
- A good set of accessories.
- Dodgy accuracy.
- Unreliable self-levelling.
- Build quality does not inspire confidence.
What Is A Cross Line Laser?
At its simplest a Cross-Line Laser projects two right-angled straight laser lines that intersect in the form of a ‘+’. Thus, the horizontal line is at 0° and is parallel to the floor while the vertical is a virtual plumb line. Most Cross-Line Lasers allow you to project either one or the other line by itself.
Some Cross-Line lasers project a third line on the third axis to the side.
Many Cross-Line Lasers have a self-levelling feature; the laser levels itself, that is its lower surface becomes parallel with the horizontal, within a few seconds. Most Cross-Line Lasers allow a manual horizontal or vertical tilt so that while both laser lines will still be straight and at right angles to one another, they will not be at 0° and 90°.
Some lasers have a plumb point features so as to project plumb-line dots on the floor and ceiling.
A Cross-Line Laser is useful in construction work, interiors, fittings, remodelling, etc., and is also helpful for smaller tasks such as framing and shelving.
How To Use A Laser Level
Set the Cross-Line Laser on a horizontal surface or secure it to a tripod.
Turn on the unit. Give it a few seconds to self-level. Usually an LED on the top will turn a steady green to indicate that the level has self-levelled.
Depending on your needs, you can opt for only the horizontal line or only the vertical line by pressing a button or switch from once to thrice.
If you are using the laser indoors or are outdoors and facing a wall, you will get laser lines projected on the vertical plane. If you are using the laser outdoors with no vertical plane before you, you can use a laser detector for the laser to hit. The detector should attach to a rod or frame and slid or shifted until it beeps to indicate that it has intercepted the laser.
Actually, there is nothing to using the laser itself; the skill lies in making use of the laser lines for a particular technical purpose. Three examples follow.
- If you want to make decorative horizontal grooves along a wall several centimetres from the floor, you can project a laser’s horizontal at the desired height, and mark dots along the line in increments of, say, 15 centimetres the old-fashioned way. Or, if you have battery power to spare, you could simply run your wall chaser or grooving machine along the laser line.
- If you want to make sure that a frame is hanging perfectly and is not tilted. turn on your laser and position the ‘+’ so that a corner of the frame fits snugly into the intersection. You will be able to tell at once if the frame is tilted or not and will be able to adjust it so that it is perfectly level.
- You can even erect an interior wall or partition perfectly straight along the floor and perfectly vertical against the opposing wall simply by using (only) your laser’s vertical beam provided it is long enough and has a wide enough arc.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.