My old man was a real stickler when it came time to tackle a project. His mantra was always the same… “Use the right tool for the job”. Heard thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of times, it’s the one thing I now find myself saying to my son whenever we tackle a project.
I recently found myself doing some last-minute shopping for my wife at the local Sears, and I just couldn’t help entering the store through the tool section – I’m a card-carrying member of a support group for this and some day, I’ll actually be able to enter the store through the garments section.
Anyhow, I recently built an air-over-hydraulic tubing bender for several tube-bending projects and I purchased two old-fashioned, plastic, magnetic angle finders – you know, those $15 units that you can pickup at any self-help or hardware store. They worked just fine, but as I started building more and more complex tubing projects, particularly compound bends, I needed the ability to measure with more accuracy and precision.
I searched the Internet high and low for weeks trying to find an affordable digital angle finder, but I just couldn’t source one within my price range. And then I found it – not on the Internet mind you – but during my Christmas shopping at Sears. As I was making my way towards the jewelry section, I quite literally, stumbled over an end cap in the tool section at Sears – and there is was in all of its glory. Angels sang, trumpets played and a heavenly light shown down upon it… ok, I’m exaggerating, but in all reality, right before me lay 20 or so Craftsman digital angle finders, nestled safely and securely in that damned annoying plastic packaging that requires hydraulic-assisted tools to open. This was the perfect adornment to my tube bending tool crib. A magnetic mount digital angle finder, and for under $25!
The Craftsman Digital Torpedo Level (Sears item# 00948295000 Mfr. model# 48295) features grade angles, degree angles, a green backlit digital display, an audible tone for every 45 degree it moves across, a “hold” function, a zero-out function, and it even tells you the temperature (I’m not kidding). It also sports vertical and horizontal glass bubble vials, and when turned upside down, the display rights itself for easy viewing.
We have compared its accuracy to standard dial-gauge angle finders and it’s incredibly accurate. Finding slopes and angles is effortless.
So what’s not to like? Well, not much, but I wish the magnet within the unit was stronger. It’s strong enough to hold itself securely to nearly any ferrous surface but a stronger magnet would keep it from rolling on axis when affixed to round tubing though. The Craftsman Digital Torpedo Level does struggle to find an angle when in fast to medium speed motion (the numbers change erratically). When affixed to a vertical air-over-hydraulic tubing bender while bending, the numbers jump quite a bit, but not so much that you can’t identify the rough angle you are approaching. When it’s time to get that angle JUST RIGHT, I simply bump the air actuator a few times, and the Craftsman Digital Torpedo Level finds the angle perfectly. Having a 1/10th degree display makes our angles even more accurate.
Overall, for its price ($27 at time of publishing this article), I’ve bought another one for the times when I need more than one angle finder. This is a tool that I strongly recommend to anyone looking for a digital angle finder / level – the price certainly is just right.