Level and Tape Measure

Keep the bubble in between the lines and your work will always be on the level.

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­Maybe you've heard the phrase "measure twice, cut once." Taking accurate measurements can prevent you from wasting time or maybe even losing your temper. That's where the level and tape measure come in. Use them correctly and you'll avoid unnecessary frustration.

A level is a measure­ment device that indicates whether or not a surface is level or plumb. A common type of level is the bubble or spirit level. These devices have small vials that are partly full of a colored liquid. An air bubble in the liquid tells you if the surface is plumb -- if it's centered between the markings on the vial, you've got a level surface. These days, you can pick up a fancy laser level that uses a high-tech approach to give you the same information.

Tape measures are absolutely essential. In fact, you may need two of them -- one using the English measurement system and another on the metric system. Or you can shell out the cash for a laser measuring device -- some of them can provide measurements using both systems. Without a good measuring device, the only way your construction job will turn out well is through blind luck.

That's our round up on the most essential tools every builder needs. To learn more about construction and related topics, take a look at the links on the next page.