handyman levelA handyman loves laser levels. I had a customer that was hanging a series of wall sconces in her house and wanted them to all hang at exactly the same height. Underneath the sconces was a chair rail around the perimeter of the room.

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Laser levels generally are inexpensive and come in a few different styles. Some laser levels just stick to the wall and cast a line down it, while others sit on a stand and rotate a line around the entire room. The more expensive models are self-leveling and others require the operator to adjust them. The great thing though, is that they are extremely accurate, even for long distances. A good laser level will project a line or dot several hundred feet away and be accurate to within a fraction of an inch.

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For this project, I would use a self-leveling rotary laser level. You can set it in the middle of the room, turn it on, and the laser will start spinning 360 degrees around the room. That way, you won’t have to make a mark with a traditional level and move it all about the room. You can certainly use the old-fashioned level, but as you move it around the room, your level line will likely be off with all the moving you have to do. You could certainly measure the distances from the ceiling or the floor, but either of those could be uneven and would leave you with tiny differences. A laser level will establish a level line regardless of floor or ceiling imperfections.

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I would start the project by installing the chair rail. Decide at what height you want to install the rail and line up your laser level with this height. You can adjust the rotary level by raising or lowering the stand. Turn the unit on and it will start spinning like a disco ball in a ‘70s dance contest. You can let it run while you nail in the chair rail or make various marks around the room at the height of the laser line.

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For the wall-mounted unit, simply move it up or down to align with whatever height you have chosen. This unit will cast a solid line down the length of the wall, and on some units it will display along the adjoining wall as well.

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After the chair rail is in, cast another level line wherever you want the base of the sconces to sit. This way, you know that the distance from the bottom of the sconces to the top of the chair rail is exactly the same around the perimeter of the room.

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