Not only is bamboo an eco-friendly material; when properly prepared and finished it can be be made into durable and beautiful things like the new Johnson Level 1600-4800 48-Inch Eco-Tech Bamboo Level. This new level is made of laminated bamboo which makes it very abrasive resistant, incredibly strong and a real joy to use. While it might weigh a little more than its aluminum counterparts, there is something that to be said about the natural feel of a wood (or in this case bamboo) level and we like it. It actually reminds us a lot of the craftsmanship and style seen in the Lixer Master tape measure calibration tool.
Johnson Level Eco-Tech Bamboo Level Features
During the course of this review, I kept this level in my office for over a month and nearly everyone that came in to chat would admire the Johnson 48-Inch Eco-Tech Bamboo Level as it leaned against the corner of my desk. Laminated bamboo is naturally beautiful to look at and the medium brown finish of this level is no exception. What makes us excited about bamboo is that it is among one of the worlds fastest growing plants and it grows in many places different countries and climates. This makes it an ideal material to be use in applications like this and many more. In fact, we’re seeing more and more flooring products, loudspeakers, and even furniture made out of bamboo. In this laminated form, it looks much like wood but the fact is that bamboo is actually a type of grass. When properly treated and laminated, bamboo is tough, durable and has a very high tensile strength. What this means is that when you use bamboo for a tool such as a level, is that it’s ready for real use out on the job site. If only I can bring myself to take mine out to the field on a regular basis…
In particular, this level, which is made much like the solid mahogany and brass models that you might be familiar with from Johnson, comes with many of the standard features you would expect. The ends are protected with shock absorbing rubber caps and the edges are finished with flush-mounted protective stainless steel bindings. There are two handles machined into the body of the level and the impact resistant acrylic vials are hand set to ensure accuracy. The vials are protected with hardened glass lenses that are replaceable and resist scratching and fogging. The Johnson Level Eco-Tech bamboo level (model 1600-4800) is made at Johnson’s dedicated wood level manufacturing facility in the North woods of Wisconsin which is a good thing to know for all your folks that insist on USA-made products.
Johnson Eco-Tech Bamboo Level Testing and Use
Testing out the Johnson Level Eco-Tech bamboo level started in the shop where we compared it to to a few other notable levels on the market from the likes of Empire, Stabila and Sola. Our initial tests were to demonstrate the Bamboo’s accuracy in both vertical and horizontal applications. Since all the levels in our shop claim to have an accuracy of 0.005in, we figured that if one of these levels was off, we would be able to take notice of it quickly. Up against the competition, the Eco-Tech Bamboo Level passed with no problems. The level bubbles are easy to see even in dim conditions thanks to their bright color and how easily they pass light. As with any bubble level, it takes a little skill in order to read and judge when the bubble is exactly centered between the lines.
We liked the stainless steel binding on the four edges of the level but care must be taken so as not to damage them by bumping it too hard against a sharp or hard edge. You can see that we have two small dings that resulted from loaning the level to one of our “helpers”. Since bamboo is a natural material, it is susceptible to warping, adsorbing moisture and other environmental effects if it is not well cared for. We would suggest when not in use, that it be hung by the large round hole at the end in a dry place. We found the handles of the level to be well positioned and large enough to allow us to hold the level, even with gloves on.
With all the interest in being environmentally conscious and using sustainable materials, the Johnson Level Eco-Tech bamboo level is a great choice. Bamboo is a wonderful material that is strong and nice to look at. As we see it, there is not reason that a good tool can’t also be beautiful too. For our Performance rating, we gave this level a 8/10 since it combines a great material in a practical application. With accuracy on par with levels costing twice the money, we gave this level an 8/10 for our Value rating. If you are on the market for a new level that has the look and feel of the one your grand-dad used but is made for today’s craftsman, then we suggest you consider this level – you’ll love it.