Roger Bisby checks out the Stabila telescopic level.
I first came across telescopic levels while visiting building sites in America. They are commonplace out there and are used in all aspects of timber frame housing. Not only can you lock them between the sole and header plate when building stud walls, you can also use them as a measuring rod. How much easier to set the level and read off the scale when you are pinching studs in than to get a tape measure and try to hold it top and bottom or folding it over to get the right measurement.
What mystifies me is why telescopic levels have never really taken off in Britain. You do see them but they aren’t that common. It isn’t just that laser levels have taken over because there are plenty of Stabila two-metre levels out there which are doing the same sort of job with stud walling etc, but the telescopic level takes things a step further by locking in place and freeing up both your hands.
One of the clever features of this level is the pair of detachable stand-off attachments, so you can plumb up or level items that have obstructions, such as door handles. Provided there are uniform surfaces at the top and bottom or either end you can bridge things in the middle.
One concern with any level is the accuracy, not only when new but after the level has been in use for a while and possibly dropped.
Stabila has the enviable position of being one of, if not the most accurate level on the market, and the reinforced bridge around the vial is just one of the reasons they stay true. If a level doesn’t remain straight then it can’t remain true. Some of that happens by treating your level like the precision instrument it is, and some of it comes from design and construction. The ribbed profile and the bridge give the level extra strength and stability to help counter sideways deflection. Stabila – the clue is in the name.
The way to test a level for accuracy is to flip it, and you should do this on a regular basis – certainly once a week, and the accuracy you are looking for at full stretch is deemed to be within 0.75 of a millimetre. For anyone working outside of the National Physics Laboratory that is probably good enough. I am not even sure how I would measure it.