Tool Test: Laser Measures
Handheld laser measuring tools are more affordable than ever, but are they accurate enough to replace a tape measure?
Synopsis: For most finish carpenters, there is nothing more familiar than a measuring tape. But is today’s technology ready to move measuring tapes out of tool belts? In this tool test, finish carpenter Kit Camp takes a look at handheld laser measures, electronic devices that take measurements, and often do a whole lot more. The current field of laser measures can perform tasks such as indirect measuring and auto tallying. They also have timers, memory, and extensive range. For the test, Camp rates the Leica Disto D3 as best overall and the CST/Berger LT-160 as best value. He also includes a sidebar on tips for accurate measuring, including calibrating a tape with a laser measure; aiming for solid targets; and holding the measure steady.
Magazine extra: Watch editor Justin Fink demonstrate the basic functions of these tools, from taking and storing measurements to calculating square footage.
A tape measure is an uncomplicated tool that performs a simple job well. So when Fine Homebuilding asked me to try out laser measures, I felt like a kid pretending to be Han Solo. The word laser still conjures futuristic imagery for me. I certainly wasn’t convinced that a laser measure might someday replace my tape measure. But after a few months of working with these tools on a day-to-day basis, I feel like I have been living in the dark ages without one.
What they’re good for, and what they’re not
Efficiency is crucial for a solo finish carpenter like me, and when it comes to efficiency, these laser measures are a godsend. If you bought this tool for estimating, it would pay for itself in no time. It doesn’t matter if you are making a materials list for trim, cabinetry, drywall, or exterior siding. Laser measures let…