Bosch released a new tool this summer – one that wasn’t merely an improvement on an old idea or a tweak to some existing designs. It was revolutionary and it grabbed our attention. The GSL 2 Surface Laser is a new type of laser leveling device that uses dual angled self-leveling lasers to mark both peaks and valleys on floors, be they concrete or any other material. No, for concrete guys this is going to be a no-brainer purchase. We’ve used it and the tool is clearly going to appeal to anyone who has to deal with this common issue on a regular basis. In a sense I’m giving away our conclusion up front, but let’s explore the tool and see how it works and what exactly it does. By the end, whether you lay wood flooring, vinyl, tile or are a concrete guy, this a product you’ll want to pick up in order to save time and money.
In order to get across the real-world advantages, and downright engineering prowess of the GSL 2 surface laser, let’s outline the steps it would normally take to find a low spot in concrete flooring. First, you would check that the floor is or is not level using a straight edge, long piece of dimensional lumber or large level. You’d want to start in a corner so that you can check out where the low spots are relative to that single point. You may have to readjust depending upon what you find. Laying the straight edge down, you’d observe whether or not the floor is dipping beneath and revealing a low spot. Circle those with chalk. Of course, if the board raises up, then you need to sand that spot and it will also entail relocating to another section in order to continue examining the floor.
And, of course, you can only use a straight edge to its maximum length – same goes for dimensional lumber that is not warped. So what do you do if the room is larger? How about marking both peaks and valleys? That’s where the Bosch GSL 2 shines – and it’s going to change the way you approach leveling concrete or wood for flooring projects. We took the tool for a spin recently on a couple of residential flooring jobs and it was profoundly helpful – but more than that, it saved us tons of time and energy. So how’s it work and what does it do, really?
Bosch GSL 2 Surface Laser Features
The Bosch GSL 2 Surface Laser is one of the earlier Bosch products to come in their new L-Boxx cases which Bosch has partnered with Sortimo to provide for its signature tools and also for customers who just want to get organized. Open up the case and you’ll be greeted with the GSL 2 Surface Laser, a box containing the target plate, a pair of glasses and the small remote control. All are packaged securely so that you can place them in the L-Boxx without worrying whether they’ll be protected the next time you need to pull them out.
On the GSL 2 itself, what you immediately notice are the twin ports for the lasers. The look of the tool, and the way it moves, makes me wonder if GSL 2’s everywhere will one day wake up in the middle of the night for no reason and begin to systematically take over the world. It has a sort of… intelligent look to it.
All joking aside, the remote control unlocks the real beauty of this tool. With the remote you can get the Bosch GSL 2 Surface Laser to scan left or right and do it automatically, manually, fast or slow. Whatever type of scanning you need it to do in order to hone in on a large space, the GSL 2 will be able to tackle it. Then all you need to do is watch for the lines to split and circle those spots with chalk.
As for the scanning, the way is works is through the principle of convergence. You see, if two self-leveling lasers are calibrated and beams at an intersecting angle along a plane, then if that plane changes (varies up or down), the lasers will diverge. It’s this divergence that splits the beams apart and allows you to easily go in and circle your high or low spots. And if you want to know just how high or low a particular deviation is, you can use the included target plate to tell you exactly how far off you are at any particular location along the beam. The plate works by setting it on the ground (there is a height guide to get it in place) and then lining up the left laser with the guide. If the right beam is to the right there is an elevation. If it is off to the left of reference there is a depression. Bosch claims accuracy of within 1/8″ for every 30 ft.
Field Testing and Use
We inserted a 12V Max battery into the bottom of the unit (since we had them on-hand) and turned it on using the side switch. At once we noted that there was a 3 LED battery charge indicator on the top of the unit. This is a feature we’re expecting as standard, but it was great to see Bosch included it on even a completely new product like the Bosch GSL 2 Surface Laser. The next thing we did was locate the Bosch GSL 2 in our starting corner by picking it up by the integrated handle that sits in front of the battery meter and IR receiver.
We used the Bosch GSL 2 Surface Laser on a couple of projects. One involved leveling out a wood floor that was getting recovered with some 3/4″ Red Oak from Harris Wood. For this, the GSL 2 was shooting well over 38 feet across a room to determine any major peaks and depressions. This home was built in the 1920’s so we found several, including a few spots that were 1/2″ or more off. For this application some of the repairs included ripping out the subfloor and installing new plywood to achieve a more gradual change. In other areas we realized that, while the floor did indeed slope away from the Bosch GSL 2 – as indicated by a steadily diverging pattern of the laser, the slope was gentle enough that we were happy to live with it as opposed to re-leveling the house and dealing with all of the subsequent plaster and drywall issues that would occur as result.
Our second application was leveling a smaller area for pre in laying down some floor tile over concrete. For this, the GSL 2 proved equally helpful. In areas that showed over 1/8″ in deviation at a peak, we were able to grind down the concrete. For the low spots we only filled areas that were over 1/8″ so as to not have to rely too much on the addition of ample thinset.
In both instances, the remote control was our hero . It allowed us to control the Bosch GSL 2 from a distance, so we could remain at the critical location and mark our spots without having to return to the laser to move the head. Had Bosch not included the remote, this product would still be useful, but not nearly as much.
As it stands now, Bosch’s new GSL 2 Surface Laser is one of the most innovative products of the year. It’s entirely new – and by that we mean go ahead and Google it. Nobody has one. It’s rare to find an entirely new tool, and even more rare to find that that tool is truly helpful and solves a real problem in a way that nothing else does. The GSL 2 will save you time. It’s a great product and we feel it’s reasonably priced as well. While this is going to mostly appeal to the professional tradesman who does concrete or flooring for a living it’s almost priced low enough to drag in a few prosumers as well… almost. If you haven’t yet seen this tool, go arrange a demo. If you’re a pro I doubt you’ll walk out without a sales receipt in your hand.