I’m the type who always appreciates a precise, well-executed project, repair or installation, so you’ll find me reaching for a level just about every time. Call me OCD, but crooked lines or unintentional slopes in the finished product are pretty much enough to make me lose sleep. I’ve used everything from mini keychain levels to the long ones used by contractors for large-scale jobs, but by far my favorite has been the Torpedo Level from Klein Tools: it has three spirit vials to check level, plumb and 45° angles, is perfectly sized to fit in a toolbox, and has Rare Earth magnets that let it get a death grip on any ferrous metal, so that you can work hands-free in certain situations.
But as it turns out, Klein Tools wasn’t satisfied with a Torpedo Level that was merely awesome – the had to go and upgrade it to amazing. Meet the latest incarnation: the Klein Tools Magnetic Lighted Torpedo Level.
Klein’s Lighted Torpedo Level has the same 3-vial configuration, rugged housing and incredibly strong Rare Earth magnets as its predecessor, but with a few new perks that really take it to the next (wait for it….) level. Sorry, I was cringing as I wrote it and realized the pun, but it was pretty much unavoidable. Anyway, back to the latest features, which happen to be a laser-etched ruler along the bottom edge of the level, as well as a v-notched frame that helps the level sit more comfortably on round pipes and conduit, and LED lighting in each vial window, so you can get accurate readings even if the ambient light you’re working in isn’t the best.
Contrary to the way “New and Improved” can often make you never want to buy the product in question again, Klein Tools has, in my opinion, totally nailed this overhaul! Looks like I might have to upgrade, too.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a contractor, a die hard do-it-yourselfer, or just like to decorate around the house -sooner or later, pretty much everyone needs a level. And there aren’t many all-purpose levels that are better than the Torpedo Level from Klein Tools. I had my first brush with this gadget a couple of years ago, while we were getting ready to film a product demonstration video. What I really like about this level is that it doesn’t only gauge how level an object is, but can also tell you if it’s set at a proper 45° angle, or whether or not something is plumb.
Now, of course, if you look at the Torpedo Level’s packaging or product detail page, you’ll see that it has Rare Earth magnets built into its aluminum frame, which allow the level to grip very strongly onto steel and other ferrous metal surfaces. But when I was testing the level out for the first time, it had already been stripped of its packaging, and the whole magnet thing came is as a big surprise – I was testing the levelness of some metal trim around one of our warehouse doors, and much to my surprise, the level clamped right onto it. It has some seriously strong holding power, which I can imagine comes very much in handy for those times that you need to leave a level in position without actually holding it in place.
Another detail I was surprised by was how rugged the level’s casing was. We heard that it could withstand a lot, so we decided to test it out. First, we set the level on the floor just how you’d place it if you were measuring with it (on its narrow edge). Then, one of my coworkers actually stood on it – several times – and nothing happened. It’s one tough little tool.
The Klein Torpedo Level has a couple of other cool features, the first of which is the glow-in-the-dark material that frames the vials. Even if you have to check the level of something in a dark or dim area, you can still see the readings, because the frames illuminate the vials within them. And there’s the top-read window, just in case you have to use the level in a cramped area and need to be able to read it from its narrow edge. Like I said before – whether you’re remodeling a home, building a coffee table or just hanging pictures, this is a must-have addition for any tool kit.