Two months ago to the date, we shared with you our very positive first impressions of C.H. Hanson’s Precision Ball Level. Since then, we have used the level quite a bit for various projects and tasks, and not only has it not disappointed us yet, it has exceeded our most demanding expectations.
Following is our comprehensive review of the level – keep reading for all the fine details or skip ahead to the summary.
Feel, Appearance & Build Quality
The absolute first thing we noticed about C.H. Hanson’s precision ball level is that it is NOT a lightweight level. The level has considerable heft to it, but in a good way that makes it feel strong and solid.
At the heart of the level is the encapsulated weighted ball, enclosed by what seems to be a polycarbonate shell. Although the plastic casing feels a bit thin, we’re not at all concerned that it could crack or shatter.
The entire level is constructed from aluminum – one piece of aluminum, to be exact. The edges have a textured/machined finish, probably to provide greater precision, but it looks and feels nice as well.
Between the edges, the aluminum body is concave inwards on both sides and is very smooth. We are not sure about what gives the aluminum its flat black color, possibly anodizing, but whatever it is, it works very well. The incredibly smooth texture is very easy on fingertips, and the concave shape makes the level very easy to securely grip.
On opposite ends of the level are thick rubbery endcaps that protect the level from minor dings and drops.
This level is incredibly quick and easy to use. As claimed, its main advantage is its ability to check the level of two dimensions at once. When used on its side, you can measure angles in either degrees or pitch.
When used horizontally, a small air bubble gathers and settles in a depression at the top of the ball. If the crosshairs align with the center of the bubble, the surface being tested is level. If not, then the surface must be adjusted until the crosshairs align with the bubble.
The enclosed ball is dual-colored, with the top being silver and the bottom being black. When the level is used in its vertical position, the line of separation between the silver top and black botton of the ball should perfectly align with the level’s red crosshairs. If the tested surface is not level, the deviation becomes apparent, and can be measured with relatively good accuracy.
There are two major concerns that we have heard numerous times that we would like to address.
Can/will the plastic covering the ball break?
We highly doubt that the plastic can ever crack or fail, but we can imagine that a heavily used or abused level may become scuffed up over time. However, levels are often (or at least should be) treated gently.
An interesting note – it appears that the level’s ball can be replaced. We popped off the front piece by removing two screws at the back of the level, and the internals were revealed. We would have expected a more permanent mounting system, but perhaps the fixtures allow for either ball replacement or calibration.
How quickly does the ball settle? I can read a bubble in a few seconds, and don’t want to wait long.
The ball actually stabilizes very quickly. Based on our observations, it appears that the fluid surrounding the weighted ball provides a dampening effect – perhaps it is a light mineral oil or similar. Don’t just take our word for it – take a look at the following video clip where we disturbed the level as violently as we could to test its settling times.
This is one heck of a level. The build quality is great – the level feels strong, solid, and reliable. C.H. Hanson’s innovative ball design definitely meets their claims of the level being quick and easy to use. We love that the level can be used to check two dimensions at once, and also appreciate that it can be used to measure angles as well. At the end of the day, the level works, and it works well.
We must also point out that it may be a while before the long-term durability of the level is determined. Are you the type that throws levels around as if they were scrap 2x4s? If so, then this one probably isn’t for you. But, if like us and you treat your level with a bit of care, than there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.
C.H. Hanson’s precision ball level is available for $35 online and in stores.
Lastly, a big thank you to C.H. Hanson for providing the level for review.