Earlier today, in a brief intro post about Goldblatt Tools, I mentioned that Goldblatt is a new ToolGuyd advertising partner – you might have already seen their banner ad in our sidebar. Prior to the ad arrangement, Goldblatt sent over some of their new aluminum box levels for testing and review.
As I also mentioned in the Goldblatt intro post, before I received the levels I was a little hesitant about their quality. I have had both wonderful and not-so-great experiences with GreatStar-manufactured tools, such as certain Kobalt tools that they make, but most of my experiences with their tools have been positive.
My initial impression of these levels was quite favorable, but I took the time to use them a bit more. Levels aren’t the sort of tools that I use on a daily basis, so I wanted to make sure I was right about them. I’m glad to report that my impression remains strongly positive.
I first started working on the review before we came to a banner ad arrangement. When talking about an advertiser’s product, I have to be absolutely, positively, zero-doubt, beyond certain, 100% sure of what I say. I typically have to tone things down a bit too, lest the excitement be construed as forced or influenced by the advertisement arrangement.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I think about Goldblatt’s new levels. They sent me both 24-inch and 48-inch models, which have the same features and build quality, and so only the 24-inch model will be shown in photographs.
The first thing I noticed is the magnified main bubble level. This led me to immediately grab my 24-inch Sola BIG RED aluminum box level for comparison ($60 via Amazon). I found that the Goldblatt level compared well, in terms of readability, user friendliness, and build quality.
The bubble and liquid in Sola’s main vial have ever so slightly better contrast, but my Sola level also has a bit of crud floating around the main bubble from Day 1. No kidding, and the crud in my Sola level vial is still there nearly 5 years later. The Sola level retails for $60, the Goldblatt for $20.
The main bubble is incredibly easy to read from head-on and side directions. But when viewing the bubble head-on through the curved “magnified” viewing window, the size of the bubble is enlarged for even better readability. I couldn’t easily capture this in a photograph, so you’ll have to trust me on that.
All of the vials are said to be impact-resistant, and I haven’t any reason to challenge these claims. The vials’ housings seem to be strong and secure.
Goldblatt says that the vials are UV-resistant, which means the liquid should retain its yellow-green hue for years to come. Many, but not all companies use UV-resistant vials. If a vial or the encapsulated liquid aren’t UV-resistant, they bleach-out over time and turn clear, with very poor contrast and readability.
The Goldblatt levels – both sizes – have an accuracy of 0.029° in both directions, which is pretty good. For comparison purposes, one of Johnson’s 24-inch levels ($25 via Amazon) has an accuracy of 0.029° in one direction, and 0.043° in the other.
The side vial is also easy to read.
Next, there’s the special Verti Site vertical site vial, which looks like a regular vial until you view it from the side of the level.
There’s a special mirrored viewing window that lets you read the Verti Site vial from the side. It’s mirrored in two directions, giving you the option of reading the vial from slightly above, or slightly below. This means you can read the Verti Site bubble from 3 sides of the level.
This feature should come in handy for tasks such as plumbing up a doorjamb.
Both sides of the level are precision machined.
The machined top and bottom surfaces are no better or worse than with the other mid-range or even premium levels I’ve used or handled before. That’s a good thing, if not neutral.
The level is made from 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum, but only time will tell how well it stands up to minor bumps, dings, and typical wear. The box design means they’re light, but not lightweight or clumsy-feeling.
You get one nice-sized and comfortable handle with the 24-inch level, two in the 48-inch level.
Both sides have shock-resistant rubberized end caps and what I can only guess are hanging holes. I couldn’t easily remove the end caps, which is good if you don’t want to lose them, but you should be able to remove them if you want to.
I always find levels to be difficult to review. Testing and evaluating levels isn’t hard at all – it’s always the writeups that I find challenging. That’s why I have at least half a dozen models, and that’s just talking about 24-inch size levels, that are still on my to-do list. The Sola model that I compared the 24-inch Goldblatt level to – I bought that one in December of 2010.
Still, I find myself really liking Goldblatt’s new levels, and no that’s not because Goldblatt is a current advertising partner. Overall, both levels are very solidly built and well designed. I have tested the 24-inch level more than the 48-inch model, but can’t find fault with either.
I find myself struggling to find a downside to the levels, but there are a couple of standout features that I found favorable. To start, the magnified vial is a big plus, and I was pleased to find that all of the vials offered exceptionally good contrast and readability. The Verti Site mirrored level is also a nice feature, and I could see how it would advantageous in certain applications.
I will keep at it, trying to find a downside to these levels, but in the meantime I definitely recommend them. The price points are pretty good too – $20 for the 24-inch level, $30 for the $48-inch model.
Right now they’re available at Lowes.com, and I believe they will appear in Lowes stores very soon. One store near me is showing that they have (2) of the 48-inch level in stock, which is hopeful. They will be available through Amazon starting around July 20th, 2015.
Thank you to Goldblatt for providing the review sample unconditionally.