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A level -- a device for finding a line parallel to the ground -- can be helpful for small jobs (like hanging a picture or putting up shelves) and essential for big jobs (like hanging new cabinets or putting a new addition on your house). The human eye has an uncanny sense of level and will quickly label projects that are even slightly off level as "slipshod."

Conventional Levels

The typical level incorporates three level measures in a rectangular frame. When shopping for a level, pick a durable frame material (like aluminum) that will not warp or otherwise deform and make sure the levels themselves are securely and permanently locked in place. Any changes to any of the components will make the level useless.

Laser Levels

Recently popular, laser levels are unbeatable for their ease of use. The best ones use an internal balancing mechanism to establish the level line and then project an easily seen laser beam along that line. We own the Black & Decker model and

believe it is one of the handiest tools we have. With its nail hook adapter, we hung up four pictures by placing the first nail, hanging the level on it, and then placing the rest of the nails in perfect alignment along the bright laser line.

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