You may not think of a level as having a lot of room for improvements, but then again you may not be considering Bosch taking a swing at those improvements. With the introduction of the GIM 120, Bosch is adding features that installers, electricians, and framers, and carpenters will want to consider. The easy field calibration, digital accuracy, angle measurement, and leveling assistance make the Bosch GIM 120 48-Inch Digital Level a contender for applications such as counter tops, ADA ramps, stairs, framing, built-ins, and much more.
On The Level…
Traditional levels use bubbles and lines so the accuracy of its measurements depends on the eye of the level holder. The Bosch GIM 120 has bubbles and lines but it also has digital accuracy – accurate to ±0.05°. That’s a tight tolerance. The measurements – displayed in degrees, percent, or feet and inches – can be transferred to other work areas by using the hold/copy button – much the way a calculator stores a figure in its memory. The GIM 120 features an angled, illuminated, automatically rotating digital flip display that can be seen from many angles. This helps particularly when working above your head. The display shows alignment arrows to aid adjustments in the leveling process and an audible tone can be set for level or 90°.
The GIM 120 also features IP 54 protection, a protective carrying case, and four AA batteries. It retails for $199.99.
We took a first look at the GIM120 and GIM60 back in March, but now we’ve had it in the field. Here’s what we found.
Putting the Bosch GIM 120
In the Hands of a Carpentry Profesional
Matt Kent of architectural woodworking company Kent Made, LLC in Lakeland, Florida, used the GIM 120 to see if everything was square. You may have read a few of the reviews he and his father have done including Ridgid’s 18V HyperDrive Nailer, DeWalt’s DWE7480 Table Saw, and Festool’s Domino.
Pro Tool Reviews: What kind of work do you do?
MK: We do a lot of interior trim carpentry and finish carpentry focusing on built-ins and stairs.
Pro Tool Reviews: What projects did you use the GIM 120 on?
MK: We used it to install handrails on a staircase, level built-ins, and we installed some beams in a vaulted ceiling.
Pro Tool Reviews: What first struck you when you looked at the tool?
MK: I thought that it was pretty solid tool. It didn’t look like it would bend easily.
Pro Tool Reviews: How does it feel in the hand?
MK: I don’t know if you can ever get too light with a level! The Bosch GIM 120 is substantial enough to feel solid but light enough to be a competitor in the 4-foot level category. Basically, a good weight and feel.
Pro Tool Reviews: What’s different about it (good or bad) from tools you currently use?
MK: Our favorite thing about the GIM 120 is the setting which tells you the degree at which the level is sitting. When you’re doing handrails for stairs, the railing must be the same distance from each step all the way up. It can be difficult to cut a mitre for this, but we put the GIM 120 on the steps and it gives us the exact angle of the steps so we know exactly how to cut the handrail. We also use this feature with the beam installation on ceilings.
One thing Bosch could improve is the delay of the audible level tone. Typical levels use bubbles and lines, and using them to level something is relatively quick. With the GIM 120, there’s an audible tone when it’s level, and although it’s nice that it tells you when it’s level, the tone is too delayed. If it becomes a problem, the tone can be turned off, but that defeats the purpose, of course.
Just a note: It comes calibrated but we calibrated it ourselves to make a sure it was perfect.
Pro Tool Reviews: Describe the features of the tool that you used.
MK: We used all the features of the GIM 120. One particularly useful feature is the rake angle that was very helpful when installing the ceiling beams.
Pro Tool Reviews: What is the most challenging part of these jobs?
MK: The more typical application of plumbing up a board or leveling a board is challenging because of the delayed level tone I mentioned and possibly because of the highly accurate, tight tolerance of the GIM 120. When we were doing the built in and attempting to get the countertop or cabinet top perfectly level, we’d typically move a level up and down until the bubbles are between the lines. With the GIM 120, it would tell us to move one side up or down 0.1% and when we did, the beep would be delayed but eventually let us know it was level, but then a second later it would indicate it wasn’t level again. As you can imagine, this unnecessarily holds up workflow.
Pro Tool Reviews: What other jobs can you envision using this tool for?
MK: This is the level to use for any job that requires finding an angle – it’s a huge help. It’s very quick and accurate.
Pro Tool Reviews: Do you recommend this tool to other professionals?
MK: That’s a good question! If I needed a level mainly for plumbs, at this price point I wouldn’t replace my traditional level with the GIM 120 because it’s not time- or cost-effective. However, if I needed a level for a lot of stair work, vaulted ceilings, or other angled applications, then it’s definitely worth having to get that quick, perfect degree measurement.
The Last Word…
The Bosch GIM 120 48-Inch Digital Level is an especially helpful tool in angled applications – stairs, vaulted ceilings, and so on. It’s light, accurate, and easy to read. We’d like to see the ability to adjust the ±0.05° accuracy tolerance as well as a shortening of the delay on the level tone.
Bosch GIM 120 48-Inch Digital Level Manufacturer’s Key Features
- Easy-to-read angled, illuminated, rotating flip display
- Display automatically rotates for ease of use
- Precise measurements in degrees, percent or feet and inches
- Hold/copy button to transfer target values to other work areas
- Audible tone indicator for level or 90°
- Accuracy at 0° or 90° is ±0.05°
- Easy field calibration for consistent results
- Alignment arrows that help users adjust while leveling
- Robust housing with IP 54 protection
Bosch GIM 120 48-Inch Digital Level Specifications
- Material: Aluminum
- Length: 48-Inches
- Accuracy: 0.05 degrees
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Power Source: 4 AA batteries
- Included with Tool: Protective carry case, (4) AA batteries
- Price: $189