Bubble levels in the laser age
Three new Kapro levels in 24-, 10-, and 4-inch sizes all feature Optivision Red vials to aid visibility.

In this age of laser levels and high-tech everything, do you really need a bubble level? Kapro, a company that makes both laser and conventional levels, thinks so. They’ve come out with a new series of bubble levels featuring high-visibility bubbles and other user-friendly attributes.

But do you even need a bubble level? Heck, I even have a leveling app on my phone. And, laser levels have revolutionized site work, particularly for installing cabinetry and millwork. Still, lasers require set up and calibration, not to mention electricity. And for some of us, in some conditions, laser lines are not that easy to see. I still find myself reaching for various bubble levels.

Red bubbles

Most conventional levels emphasize amber bubble vials for supposed better visibility, but Kapro has developed a patented system with a clear vial with a strong red contrasting bubble edge. They call it Optivision Red, and it really did make reading the bubble easier, especially in low light.

In addition to the red bubbles, other aids to visibility include white backgrounds or other light gathering and reflecting features. All the levels have a gradient vial showing marks for 1 and 2 percent, and Kapro claims accuracy to less than 0.0005 inch/in. Here’s a closer look at the three levels in the Optivision series.

905 Condor

This is a 24-inch box level. It has oversized rubber shock-absorbing end caps and a milled bearing surface. A rubberized inset handle is easy to grip, and the radiused top edge makes it easier to draw a line. Besides the red effect bubbles, the most innovative feature is a dual-view vial for checking plumb without having to crane your neck or bump your head against the wall.

935 Toolbox level

Torpedo levels are my favorite because they slip right in the long side pocket or my work pants. I was worried that this beefier 10-inch design wouldn’t fit, but it does despite big rubber end bumpers. The Optivision red effect bubble is easy to read, and strong rare-earth magnets are a handy aid if you are working with metal cabinet rails, steel studs, metal conduit or other metallic items, such as leveling machines in the shop.

946 Smarty

Kapro calls this a pocket level, but it’s really intended to ride in a plastic belt caddy that uses the level’s magnets to secure it in place. At only 4 inches, this level is not going to be much more accurate than my phone app, but it doesn’t have to be charged and is quicker and easier to use.

For more information about these levels, visit www.kapro.com.



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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.