Shockingly Inaccurate

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Review by LostHasher posted 12-20-2015 12:57 AM 3026 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Shockingly Inaccurate Shockingly Inaccurate No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve purchased some worthless tools, but nothing compares to the useless C.H. Hanson Precision Ball Level. The company’s claim… “Easier to Read Than a Bubble™.” Wrong. Let me quickly summarize: The concept is fantastic and it’s an eye-catcher, but purchase it only if you want to give your kids a toy to play with.

The website shows construction guys using it for indoor and outdoor framing, including a roofer. But wait… the Ball Level is only two feet long. I would never use a two-foot level for framing. That’s what 4- and 6-foot levels are for. Framing a 40-foot floor? Get a string line. Leveling a countertop? You can get a bull’s eye level for under 5 bucks.

If you shop around for a few seconds, you can get a Precision Ball Level for around $40. At that price, you can get a beautifully accurate 4-foot Johnson Box Level; one of my most-used tools.

The design nearly makes it impossible to get an accurate reading. The top half of the ball is silver and the bottom half is black. For plumb, you have to align the halves with the red lines embedded into the bubble. I’ve done some rough checking and you can easily be off one degree and not even know it. If my math is right, that means if you hang something that’s a foot long, one side will be 2/8ths of an inch higher than the other. Four feet? One side will be an entire inch higher. Image the grief you’d get as a framer when your 8-foot studs don’t line up. Have you ever noticed walls that are bowed? It’s usually messed-up framing. If you’ve ever spilled water on a countertop that isn’t leveled correctly, liquid flows to one side or down to the floor. This accuracy thing is important.

The Ball Level is thicker than a normal box level, which I find annoying. It’s sturdy, but in my opinion, too heavy for a 2-foot level. And the ball sticks out too far, so you have to be careful where you place it when not in use.

Hanson’s older model was even worse. The ball would stick inside the bubble, forcing you to constantly wiggle the thing to get it to work. There was also a wobble that made leveling a time-consuming chore. And the leveling lines were printed on the outside of the ball, so they started rubbing off after my first few attempts at use. I found this older model at Lowe’s. There was one left, sitting lonely by itself without a price or shelf tag. After talking them down to $20, I found it could be off at least 2 degrees. I complained to Hanson and to their credit they shipped me a newer, improved model for free. The newer model is the one I’m reviewing. Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t even sell it. Surprise.

I’ve seen way too many positive reviews for the Ball Level on the Internet, some posted when the older models were still for sale. It blows my mind. All you have to do is put this thing horizontally on a wall and place a regular bubble level on top of it. Now move them around together. The differences are close to shocking.

Bottom line: Give this to your kids if you’re sure they won’t use it as a weapon, mark up your walls or scratch your furniture. Do-it-yourselfers? No. Construction workers? Absolutely not.

View LostHasher's profile


45 posts in 1749 days

6 comments so far

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3850 days

#1 posted 12-20-2015 02:35 AM

That sounds like someone needs to go back to the drawing board for a re-design

Have a great weekend

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 1933 days

#2 posted 12-20-2015 03:23 AM

Thanks for the review. It looks fancy enough I was thinking about it for a present for someone else – you saved me future ribbing and embarrassment! A Johnson it is then (or maybe a Stabila!)

-- Learn Relentlessly

View playingwithmywood's profile


444 posts in 2443 days

#3 posted 12-21-2015 07:02 AM

I totally agree it is a piece of junk but I got it really cheap and marked down so I kind of expected it to really be trash

View Daniel Sheppard's profile

Daniel Sheppard

22 posts in 1739 days

#4 posted 12-28-2015 08:20 AM

Thanks for reviewing this horrible product. Whenever I read reviews I also look for some negative opinions as they’re usually more detailed and actually contain useful information. Anyone can write good reviews such as “amazing product” or “this thing saved my life in a time of need”, but not everyone can actually tell you why they liked it. I won’t be surprised if company officials write their own fake positive reviews. As far I know lot of other companies do it already.

View LostHasher's profile


45 posts in 1749 days

#5 posted 12-29-2015 10:03 PM

I won t be surprised if company officials write their own fake positive reviews. As far I know lot of other companies do it already.

I’ve caught some really blatant ones on Amazon. Lots of reviews around the same time, similar wording, non-verified purchases. An ohm meter I was looking at had over a dozen similar/fake/glowing reviews, all in the same month. All different logins, all verified purchases… so the company actually had to set up different accounts and purchase multiples of their own product.

I’d love to know how many companies “hire” people to post reviews on forums like this one.

View andrew_bentley's profile


5 posts in 1713 days

#6 posted 01-21-2016 09:28 AM

This looks more like a kids’ toy than a professional instrument. An investment down the drain.

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