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All of the kit components come safely tucked into a sturdy hard shell case that protects your investment and keeps all related pieces together.
Click image to enlarge

Johnson Self Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level

Getting installations or layouts level and square the first time

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted - 1-29-2013

Everyone from contractors to woodworkers and DIY’rs need to establish level lines, often on more than one surface or to locate layout points on multiple surfaces. The Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level makes those jobs simple and dead on accurate. Sure you can work with bubble levels, strings and tubes of water but nothing is faster or more accurate than modern beams of light like those from the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level.

The Basics


The Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level (Model: 40-6687) emits intersecting, self-leveling horizontal and vertical lines from one end and 5 dots, straight ahead, left, right, down and up from the other end. The horizontal and vertical dots are perfectly aligned with each other, like a continuous rod running across the room. The forward dot indicates the intersection of the lines projected from the other end of the unit.

The lines and dots are automatically leveled using a pendulum mechanism. The pendulum can be locked to prevent damage during transport. The self-leveling range is +/- 4 degrees. You can lock out the pendulum mechanism and purposely tilt the laser unit to needed angles like when installing gutters or other water-carrying pieces to insure drainage.

The multi-use base for the laser unit (left) has two magnetic sides, comes with a strap for posts, can be set on a flat surface and the whole time the laser unit can be rotated! This screw clamp bracket for the Detector (right) gives you plenty of mounting options for that piece as well.
Click images to enlarge

The laser lines and dots have an accuracy of +/- 1/8" / 50 ft. (+/- 1mm/10m). The lines and dots have an interior range of up to 150 ft. (45m) for lines and up to 200 ft. (60m) for dots with both dependent on the ambient light conditions.

The laser wavelength (red) is 635nm+/- 10 nm and is classified llla. The maximum output is </=5mw. Power for the lasers comes from 3 "AA" alkaline batteries that are included in the kit. Expected battery life is approximately 20 hours continuous use.

Despite its capabilities the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level measures just 4.803" x 2.835" x 4.567" (122 x 72 x 116mm) and weighs just 1.869 lbs. (0.7 Kg). The specified working temperature range is 14 to 113 degrees F (-10 to 45 degrees C) which should cover just about any job-site or shop environment.

The case of the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level is made from tough plastic but it has a large rubber overmold that protects it from bumps. That rubber overmold also gives you a very good grip to make handling the unit even more secure.

Mounts

The main Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level base has a center threaded insert 5.8 " - 11 and 1/4 " - 20 in a threaded insert in the laser unit itself. The multi-use base has strong magnets on two sides for quickly attaching the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level to (ferrous) metal surfaces. That same base allows the laser unit to swivel without moving the base itself. This base also has a slot through which you can use the included strap to mount the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level on a post, pipe or stud.

A special bracket is also included for the electronic Detector that gives you options for mounting that unit also.

The Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level unit itself has several features that expand its usefulness. It projects five self-leveling beams (dots) and two cross-lines simultaneously that make it possible to locate and mark several points. You can control the beams (dots) and cross-lines separately using touch buttons on the control panel. By clicking through the available configurations you can quickly find the mode that best fits the job at hand without having other dots or lines that are not needed.

The control panel (left) is very easy to understand and use,. The lever here (right) engages and releases the pendulum lock that protects the mechanism during transport.
Click images to enlarge

The self-leveling feature has visible and audible alarms that warn when the unit is beyond its leveling range. When the pendulum lock is activated you can turn the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level on its side or place it at any special angle needed. Also, the laser beam can be set to pulse for use with line detector that is included with this kit when visibility of the line/dot is an issue.

The Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level kit (#40-6687) Includes: the Combination Laser Level unit, multi-functional magnetic base, 3 "AA" alkaline batteries, Detector with 9V battery and clamp, Mounting strap, Magnetic target, instructions and a very nice fitted hard shell case.

In the Shop

One of the first things I noticed about the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level is that the blister-button control panel makes it very easy to use. Being able to use individual lines or dot combinations no doubt saves on battery power but makes it easier to use.

The laser lines and dots themselves are surprisingly bright and focused which makes them easier to see in more light conditions. Johnson Level has always had easily seen lasers but it seem that they may have stepped that up a bit with the Johnson Self Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level.

The self-leveling feature is really nice because you can easily build a platform on which to set the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level unit for use on the jobsite. The +/- 4 degrees gives you a large fudge factor in the pile of boards or whatever you use to position the laser at the right height. You can also put the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level unit on a common photography tripod thanks to the ¼-20 threaded insert in its bottom.

This red plastic target (left) has a reflective area in the center that makes seeing the laser line in bright areas much easier. You also get this detector (right) that picks up the laser lines or dots in the Pulse Mode when you can;t see the lasers yourself!
Click images to enlarge

The multi-use base for Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level not only lets you stick it to vertical or horizontal metal surfaces with the embedded magnets, you can strap it to a post or stud with the included strap. The laser unit attaches to the base with a finger-tightened knob. However, with the knob fully tightened you can still turn the laser unit on the base. If you have the surface beneath the mount within the self-leveling range you can turn the laser unit on its base to move the lines or dots wherever you need them and always be perfectly level.

Some work sites might be rather bright which can make seeing a laser line difficult. The Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level comes with a plastic target with a reflective section that makes seeing the laser line or dot much easier. This plastic target can be leaned against a surface or the built-in magnet can be used to stick the target to a ferrous metal surface.

You also get an electronic detector that can pick up the laser lines or dots when you can’t see them at all. You enable the pulse mode on the laser unit and place the target at the point you want the laser to indicate. When the laser gets close the detector starts beeping and an indicator flashes showing to which side of zero the line is. When the laser line or dot hits the center of the target range the beep turns into a solid tone and a light comes on confirming that the laser line or dot is very close to the target center. You can then make small adjustments to get the laser exactly where you want it. The detector comes with a bracket that can be used to mount the unit on a stud or other surface within the range of the screw clamp built into the bracket.

Conclusions

When you want to get anything from shelves to cabinets aligned correctly around a room there really is nothing better than a unit like the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level. This kit comes with everything you need to do most jobs whether you are a full-on contractor or a DIY’r that wants to get it right.

Video Tour

The Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level kit as shown here has a street price hovering around $500.00 (1-28-2013). However while certainly not cheap, it seems reasonable for such an effective high-quality tool that can save a bunch of money by getting your job done right the first time around.

Visit the Johnson Self-Leveling Combination 2 Line and 5 Dot Laser Level page – Click Here

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