I'm looking to get a laser level for interior installations. I will probably also use it, very infrequently, for outside work. I am looking at the PLS180 and the PLS360. I am open to other brands, types, and ideas. How useful do you find the additional plumb line of a tool like the 180 is? How well do they travel? Are some more prone to damage and misalignment? (Thinking air travel, not in my truck.)
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor J:
I bought a Robotoolz about 5 years ago with vertical and 3 speed horizontal spin. I hate to admit it, but I have abused the thing and it still reads on the nuts. Within 30', anyway. Probably has 100k miles on it, tossed in with the rest of the install tools. All in all, very satisfied with it.
Look for a laser that can lock the pendulum when it is in off position. I was told that it was the #1 problem with lasers. If not locked, it bounces around during transport. Also you might want to check Bosch. They now have lasers (I think Home Depot), but I don't know much about them.
On install I use it to confirm high spot on the floor. From there I use my 6' Stabila. I find it is very helpful, especially finding the low spot on the ceilings. I don't abuse the unit, and have never changed the battery. That said the next time I turn it on it should be dead.
We rarely use the vertical. To use it with anything of more thickness/depth than wall tile, the laser would have to be in the same plane as the object... too time consuming.
A line laser is just so much faster since we can level left-right and front-back (at each end/front/back) at the same time. We find we're using it to set even one cabinet, say a vanity, as it's easier than wrestling with 2 or 3 levels on the cabinet at once. Knowing all of this, I would spend more money than on the one I did, and get the transport lock.
We have the laser jamb. The one with magnets sounds interesting if it will work off of corner bead. Just a month ago had an install in a room with 15-16' ceilings. So I clamped the laser jamb to toolbox. It worked, but if I could have just stuck it to the corner bead... Happened on this job to have a corner jutting out... That would have been quick!
We typically keep ours in the plastic cases they came with to protect them as much as possible but they still take their fair share of abuse. One time we got in a rush to put everything in the gang box and get headed out at the end of the day. We came back the next morning to a broken lens because the laser had just been crammed in the box with everything else, unprotected.
As far as the usefulness of the plumb line, it all depends on what you use it for. It sounds like a lot of guys don't use it very often, but we use it as much as or more than the level line. We do a lot of custom door installs as well as cabinet installs. I find on a door install I can get a good read on the trueness of an opening by setting my laser on the ground and shooting it up one side of the rough jamb. The models that we have will shoot all the way around the opening and down the back side of the opposite jamb to within about 12" of the top of the laser. We recently were on a commercial job where we installed a lot of jambs in a concrete opening and then installed doors on Rixson pivots inside the jambs. The vertical laser line saved us an incredible amount of time in getting a square and plumb line on all four sides of an opening in order to set our jambs to. I couldn't live without the plumb line.
I've got a PLS180 and love it. Bright, clear line. And the 180 is far superior to the other cross-hair lasers on the market. Though I don't need the vertical function as much as the horizontal, it is a huge time saver when identifying out-of-plumb conditions (walls, doors, etc.) for layout/install.