Ahh the almighty level. It can make our life easier, create a better finished product or can make our life a living hell. Over the years I have seen a lot of companies come out with different levels, some great and some are just junk. So what makes a good level? For me I want a level that is accurate, easy to read and is built on a solid frame. If I can find these three things, I am a happy camper. Which brings us to the Savage Levels. The two we are going to look at today are the SVT200 which is a Torpedo digital read out level and the SVLB48 Box Beam illuminated level.
Savage Levels are owned by Swanson levels. While Swanson levels have been around for years, I have never owned one. However, I love the Speed Square and use that all the time. The Savage line offers a life time guarantee. Not from bending or twisting, but for accuracy. If the vials ever loose their accuracy, Swanson will replace the level. So let's jump in and see what these levels are all about.
SVT200 which is a Torpedo Digital Read Out Level
In regards to Torpedo levels, this is a great level and one of my favorites. This is a 9″ level and it has some weight to it, which is nice. The level has a precision Machined, Solid Billet Aero Space Aluminum. This level just feels nice. On one side of the level there are 4 Strong Neodymium V-Grooved Magnets. The 4 magnets are very strong, so it will hold to pipe, even upside down.
On the level itself, there are two vials, a 0° and 90°, so you can take your traditional reading if you don't want to use the LCD screen. Speaking of LCD screen, this level has a great read out. There are 4 buttons:
- on/off and audible
- Unit – Degree, Percent and Pitch
The green back light on the LCD screen is very easy to read. If you turn the level upside down, the screen will correct itself, so you can still read the numbers. On the upper left side, it also shows in which direction you are off level, such as up or down. The accuracy of the level is 1/10 of a degree. The one item I would like to see changed is the fluid in the vials are a little light. I would like to see them greener or darker which would make it even easier to read.
SVLB48 Box Beam Illuminated Level
This Box Beam level is a 4′ level that uses a continuous dual rail frame (non magnetic), which most levels use. Also as with most levels, the edges have a precision machined edge. Savage implemented Diamond™ bumpers that sit towards the end of the level. These are no marring bumpers that help protect your work when laying flat. No, they are not made of diamonds, they are just shaped like a diamond. Now I can't say the beam and rails are stronger or weaker than other levels, but they sure do feel solid and seem like they will help stop twisting and bending of the level over the years or from drops.
For the guts of the level, the vials are made from acrylic, which is a durable material. The vials also have an accuracy of 029°. The vials have a multi ring to help determine pitch, level and slope. To help protect the vials, the end caps have a nice rubber mold to help protect from drops. There are also two carry handles inside the level which are good size to get your hands inside, even with gloves.
One very cool item Savage implemented into these levels is the option to illuminate your vials. With the push of a button, you can easily read your vials. When a user pushes the button, all three vials light up. No more troubles reading your level when you are in a darker work environment. The lights automatically shut off after ten minutes or when the user presses the button again.
All in all I like these levels. The levels meet all my criteria for a good level, accurate, easy to read and solid levels. The only down side I see is the inability to replace the vials easily. I wish they had the option of a screw to open the casing around the level and replace the plastic or vials.