Black and Decker BDL170 Bullseye Auto-Leveling Laser
The Black and Decker BDL170 Bullseye auto-leveling laser is just the ticket if you are trying to put up chair rail, install wallpaper borders or hang pictures in a row. What’s even better is that it comes with a temporary hands free mount so that you can stick it on a wall and then use both hands to make marks or mount what you need on the wall. The auto leveling feature makes it a cinch to use too.
Our test laser level arrived in a clear plastic clam shell style package that functioned as both a retail package and also a convenient storage box after you opened it. The inside of the package was form-fitted with a space for the level and the temporary magnetic mount. AAA batteries were also included in the package which is a nice touch. So many times when we get a battery powered product, we can’t immediately use it because we don’t have fresh or proper sized batteries on hand. This tool is one that you can buy at the store, bring home and use right away. For some folks it might be good to give the instruction booklet a quick scan so that you understand how to use the tool. We suspect, however, that most will find it pretty easy to get started. As far as build quality, the overall tool is made of an orange colored plastic with black rubber overmold around much of the outside. All the functions and buttons on the tool are clearly labeled. One small thing that we noticed is that the battery compartment lid does have a tendency to want to fall off. This can be troubling because the lid is not tethered to the tool and can be easily lost. It seems that the small plastic catch on the lid does not “click in” to hold the cover is place very well. Whether this was an error in our sample or indicative of all the tools is unknown. Aside from this the overall tool has a quality feel to it.
Black and Decker BDL170 Bullseye Laser Testing and Use
To start off our testing of the Black and Decker BDL170 auto-leveling laser, we figured we had to check how level it really was. To do this, we first attached the included hands free holder on the wall. This was done by flipping out the little tack on the back and pushing it into the drywall. (NOTE: we suggest that if you are going to use this feature, that either you plan your placement of the things you want to mount in such a way to hid the small hole or plan on making corrective repairs to your wall.) Next, using the self-centering magnetic ring on the mount, we located our laser level on it and found that it snugly held the laser level in place. We turned the unit on to the locked position, (the un-locked position is for angles) and then pushed the sliding direction button on the side into the position to project the laser level line out the side of the unit. Now to test how level the unit was, we placed two pencil marks right in the center of the projected line about 3 feet apart. Using our Stabilla 3′ level as a reference, we then checked the alignment of the two dots against the level. We found that in three feet we were about 1/8″ of an inch off which is roughly .35% off of dead level. Since the Black & Decker BDL170 BULLSEYE is supposed to be auto leveling, we figured that we would give the tool a little shake to see if it would correct itself and so we repeated our little experiment a few times and found that about half of the time it was right on and the rest of the time it was between .25% to almost 1% off. That might be good enough for some consumers and household projects, but it may drive professionals (or those with a perfect eye for level) nuts.
To continue with our testing, we tried out the angle and vertical projection of the laser line and found that the results or these also closely matched our initial experiments. What we did take note of is that the projected laser line is very bright and easy to see, even in a well lit room. In addition, we appreciated that not only did it project a line down the entire length of a 20 ft wall without trouble, it also projected a line that was about 5 inches long on the connecting wall in the corner. This made it very easy to mark out and follow the line around the perimeter of the room.
The Black and Decker BDL170 Bullseye auto-leveling laser is one of those handy tools. While not used very often, it can definitely make certain tasks, like hanging pictures and shelving, much easier. Even with our sometimes slight variations in accuracy, most homeowners will probably not be able to notice the 1% or less variation in the types of projects they are doing with the level. For our Value rating we gave the tool a 6/10 since it is positioned at a pretty fair price point for the features and versatility that are offered. For our Performance rating we gave the tool a 5/10 since, while it does good to make a simple task out of aligning and leveling things that are to be wall mounted, it does have its limitations and accuracy varied slightly in our tests.