Swanson Savage Magnetic Levels Review
Sometimes you make do with an average level, but when you finally get ahold of something professional, like the Swanson Savage magnetic levels, you’ll immediately recognize the difference. Their billet aluminum construction and clear, easy to read vials make them a handy tool that you’ll want to make sure are within easy reach for plumbing, trim and even electrical work. These torpedo levels even include four rare earth magnets which make them indispensable when working around commercial power applications and when leveling up steel electrical boxes.
Swanson Savage Magnetic Levels Build Quality
Both the Lil’ Savage level (TL041M) and Savage torpedo level (TL043M) are made from billet aluminum. This means that they were literally carved out of a solid block of aluminum by a C&C machine. Afterwards an electrical current was applied to anodize them into their vibrant blue color and the edges were precision ground to remove sharp edges and make them perfectly square. Both the Lil’ Savage and Swanson Savage magnetic level have laser etched markings in both SAE (inches) and metric (centimeters) – one per side. As we mentioned, both levels have four rare earth magnets which are extremely handy (literally) in freeing up a hand when working with metal conduit.
The Lil’ Savage (which is 6-5/16” in total length) includes a (laser etched) 5” and 13 cm scale on either side and also comes with a Tri-loc attachment which is a brass clamp designed to bend conduit and copper pipe. The Lil’ Savage has four (4) level vials at 30, 45, 90, and 0 degrees. These vials, along with the Tri-loc attachment, allows you to perfectly bend pipe above, beside, or below obstacles without overbending and kinking the pipe. We tried this in our real-world testing and it worked perfectly and without a hitch (see our note on proper usage below).
The Savage torpedo level measures slightly longer, at 9” and extends the laser-etched SAE scale to 7” and the metric scale to 18 cm. It omits the Tri-loc in favor of a slightly larger footprint and includes hanging holes at either end – though if you don’t simply stick this magnetic level to your metal tool chest we’d be surprised. This level also includes vials at 0, 90, 45 and 30 degrees, allowing a myriad of applications from pipe bending to simple vertical and horizontal leveling applications.
Both torpedo levels weigh next to nothing with the 6” coming in at 5.1 ounces and the 9” at 7.4 ounces. Throwing these into a tool bag or into your tool belt is a no-brainer.
We used both levels in setting up some exterior electrical conduit and also to align some electrical switch boxes. It was easy to simply whip out these small levels and slap them up against a piece of metal or PVC. We found the well thought out v-shaped grooves to be perfectly shaped for accepting round stock and the levels even sat comfortably atop Schedule 40 PVC piping that was 6 inches in diameter.
Taking the Lil’ Savage torpedo level, we attached it to some 1/2” gas piping line that we wanted to re-run in a more efficient manner to bypass an intersecting PVC pipe before terminating into a hot water heater. The clamp held the pipe firmly while we made two 30 degree bends to shift the run upwards and over the PVC pipe. The resulting bend was flawless and really made for a nice commentary of how handy a level like this is to use. I’d recommend one in every electrician’s tool bag.
Reviewer’s Note on Using the Tri-loc Attachment: You should make a habit of bending the pipe using the pipe, not by lifting up on the Lil’ Savage level itself. Lifting up on the level will cause thinner wall piping like copper to collapse and the level will tend to slip off of thicker wall conduit. What you can do is grab and bend the pipe itself with the Lil’ Savage attached so that you can read the vials and know when to stop applying pressure. This eliminates kinks and was our preferred method of using the level.
Both levels attached easily to our panel box while we were working and we found the quality of the rare earth magnets to be above par. These levels will stick to anything ferrous – so much so that those dropping one into a tool bag might be surprised what attaches itself to the tool when you pull it out. Bout the only negative we could find had to do with the Tri-loc attachment of the Lil’ Savage level. The adjustment knob had to go somewhere. With the decision to place the brass knob on the v-groove side of the level, it renders the groove all but useless unless you remove the brass fastener all the way. Of course had they reversed this I’d be claiming the magnetic properties fo the tool were less than handy as a result. In either case, just realize that you can get more use out of the tool if you treat the Tri-loc accessory as a removable attachment (which it is).
The Savage (TL043M) and Lil’ Savage (TL041M) torpedo levels from Swanson Tool Company are very impressive. They aren’t the cheapest levels you can find, of course, but the quality they deliver makes them well worth the money. The billet construction and laser etching makes these extremely handy tools for any electrician or builder to have in their arsenal. We’d actually recommend getting both and throw at least one in your everyday tool bag. In terms of value, we gave the Savage levels a 9/10 because they compete very well with other high-quality torpedo levels and weigh much less than most of the competition due to their construction and the size & type of magnets used. For performance there’s no question that these levels deserve their 9/10 rating as they are durable, attractive and worthy of any journeyman or building professional.