Straight Down the Line
Remember when lasers were the coming thing in the trade? Some predicted that they wouldn’t be up to the job, but so many great devices have appeared on the market in the last five or so years that it is a no-brainer not to expect to use them. Increasingly, they are incredibly well priced as we follow the usual pattern that the more that they are adopted, the cheaper they get.
Draper has been quick to adopt a range of laser tools into their range and, with usual Draper thoroughness, there is quite a range of tools to choose from, depending on what trade or function you need them for.
One of my favourite laser tools is the laser distance measure. Named the Kaprometer K3 (Stock No. 22124), it is made by Kapro and sold in the UK by Draper Tools. The Kaprometer is a “proper” laser distance measure, not a sonic distance measure that has a laser pointer. Used properly, the Kaprometer has an accuracy of 2mm in 50m – which is pretty impressive, bearing in mind you would probably get more inaccuracy using a tape measure.
Long gone are the days when a laser measure would only measure a simple distance from A to B in a straight line. The technology and software now exists in the Kaprometer that enables the user to measure distance, area, volume and height without having to climb a ladder or stretch a tape.
Clearly, the amount of time that a surveyor, builder etc can save is so great that the cost of the laser measure is soon covered.
All this technology is housed in a small plastic body that is only 10cm long, 5cm wide and 3.5cm deep. It is easy to handle because of its lightness and the grooved rubber overmould on the sides.
The 9volt battery is easy to fit in the compartment underneath, where there is also a standard thread to attach the measure to a tripod. For really accurate measurement, the laser measure needs to be held in a tripod and used at 90 degrees to the distant surface being measured. Used freehand, it is very easy to hold the measure at an angle and thus the measurement will be inaccurate.
A small spirit level near the dial is used to ensure that the user’s aim is true.
The new generations of laser tools are designed for easy use – you don’t have to be a qualified mathematician to use them. Thus, the Kaprometer has only ten operating buttons. Each one has a self-explanatory symbol on it so it is quite possible to be competent using the Kaprometer within ten minutes of getting it out of the box.
One of the most common measures a plumber might have to do is to calculate the volume of a room to find out how many and what size radiators to fit. To do this takes only a couple of minutes.
Switch on the device, select the volume and area button. The device then tells you to take a measurement. A flashing line on the cube model in the display will remind you of what to do. Once the three measurements are taken, simply press the = sign and the Kaprometer will calculate the volume for you. And it doesn’t matter whether you are metric or imperial – a press of the “U” button will convert to your preferred system.
The whole kit is pretty comprehensive too. The instruction sheet with very clear explanations of all the functions can be tucked into the flap at the back of the black nylon protective carrying case, so it is ready for instant reference if needed. The case comes with a carrying strap and, also included, is a clear silicon rubber protective sleeve. This provides a good measure of protection from wind, weather and shocks. There are apertures for the necessary functions to be accessed, e.g. the spirit level and tripod adaptor
What really strikes me is just how easy this little device is to use, how light and easy to handle it is, and if you need to do any distance measuring at all, then you should treat yourself to one. You will probably never use a tape measure again, except maybe if you are cutting planks.
I am not the world’s best at laying tiles by traditional methods – i.e. using a plumb line and square, but since using a laser square I feel a lot more confident, and the results are a lot neater too. The Kapro Laser Square (Stock No. 22119) is a simple and well-made device that looks as though it could do a few rounds in a builder’s bucket. It does a very simple job – it projects two powerful laser lines at right angles to each other. In bright light, the lines are visible at about ten metres, but with a laser target (supplied in the carry case) the accurate distance can be increased to about thirty metres.
The device is run on two AA batteries that fit into a compartment behind the laser projectors. There is a small bubble level to ensure that the level can be placed accurately when necessary and the two laser projectors sit in two well-protected mini-towers, one of which has a spirit level in it as well.
Again, laser technology has made the job of laying out floor or wall tiles easy. The user can assume that the laser lines are at right angles, so all he or she needs to do is to decide how the tiles/flooring or whatever, are going to run, and then set up the laser square to project the laser along these lines.
The laser lines are quite bright close to, and will project over obstacles in the way of the line so that it would be possible to continue the line up a couple of steps for example.
There are a couple of triangular apertures on each arm of the triangle of the device and these can be used to hang it should you want to use it vertically when tiling walls.
What strikes me most about both of these devices is just how easy to use they are. There is simply no excuse for duff measuring or untidy rows of tiles anymore. A half-decent tradesman would almost certainly use these sorts of devices routinely, and to be honest, they are well within the reach of DIYers too. I urge you to have a closer look at these two Kapro devices from Draper Tools.