Milwaukee REDSTICK Box Level Review

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End Cap

Shock absorbing and removable end caps is always a plus and a key feature on a premium level. The REDSTICK has high density, removable end-caps to protect frame and provide access in corners for scribing. Removable end caps let you scribe into corners – the key is to have high-quality removable end caps that stay in place.  We want to see uniform end caps, with dense over mold. Rubber is better than plastic or resin.

The REDSTICK has a 2-part system. A plastic type, pull-tab level disengages a rubber end cap, allowing it to be removed. We found the level to hold securely, and to date have not seen the end cap loosen or fall off. 

The best part of the REDSTICK end cap pull tab design, is removing these end caps is a conscious decision. The only negative on this end cap, pull tab, is not 100% rubber and one concern we have is that it will not transfer vibration as well as if it were an all rubber end cap.


Cutout handles are useful in handling a level, most levels 48” and over have them. Milwaukee included one handle in their 32” level for overhead work and two handles on all levels over 48”. These longer REDSTICK levels have wide, durable handles for holding the level. The REDSTICK handles have a soft rubber touch, with minimal texture to keep debris from building up in the grip area.  This is important to concrete, thin-set and drywall end-users. The grips are a multi-part system that is press fitted into place.

Note- Cut outs on a level, like handles, weaken the frame, as a result manufacturers will often make the level bigger /higher.

Level Height

Height often is decided as a strength to weight ratio optimization. The more holes in the frame, the weaker it is, so sometimes manufacturers make the level higher.  There is no rule of thumb but there are some advantages to a certain height.  For example a 2-1/2” height level is the height of a brick course and masons use their levels as a gauge for course setting. Roofers, siding, aluminum, and gutter installers use levels as gauges too.

The REDSTICK is a dedicated 2-1/2” tall. One thing we noticed was that the milled edges [face] is wide and sturdy, which helped keep the level from tipping over when aggressively shimming or moving an item, like a cabinet.

Hang Hole 

While you may think the hole is for hanging on a nail, MOST manufactures add a hole for “point of sale,” hanging on the store racks.  A TRUE nail hanger, like seen on premium levels, will be reinforced in the frame. The REDSTICK hang hole is reinforced.

Durability – Drop Test Results

I dropped the 48″ level  [most commonly used levels the job site] ten [10] times from a height of 6-feet. Prior to dropping the level I photographed and recorded a level and plumb reading.  After the test the level was unscathed – measuring both level and plumb. 

Thirsty for some drama, I decided to toss the level 15-fet in the air. [It even hit the overhead power lines a few times] I tossed the 48″ level 10 times in the air, inspecting it each time.

The 15-foot toss knocked a plastic, plumb cover off the vial area of the level, chipped one plastic end cap and dinged up the aluminum frame at the ends.  When I tested the plumb and level for accuracy the level was off.  It also had a slight bow in the frame. Assuming you take care of your levels, this type of abusive testing would best simulate approximately 10 years of daily job site use.

The moral of the story here is, don’t drop this level 10-times on pavement from a 15-feet height! If you do it on my job site, I’ll make you sit in the truck for the rest of the day.

Milwaukee REDSTICK Box Level
Milwaukee REDSTICK Box Level

Vial Strength

I spoke to both Stabila and Milwaukee and as you can imagine, both companies claim they have the stronger vial. Milwaukee uses a high impact polymer acrylic for their vials. They chose to pursue a different vial than Stabila interns of process to achieve a 10 x more durable vial.

When a company makes 10x more durable claim, I want to test that claim! So we decided to put the vials to an impact test, which is summarized on the next page.

About the author

Rob Robillard

Robert Robillard is also the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and the editor of the blog, A Concord Carpenter and principal of a carpentry and renovation business located in Concord, Massachusetts. As a carpenter and web editor, Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals. He is the carpenter correspondence for and writes a Q&A column, in the Sunday Boston Globe, called "Ask the Carpenter."He hosts the Concord Carpenter Cable TV Show,, offering the do-it-yourself audience in Boston’s Metro West region expert advice on home repairs and maintenance. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review - Video Channel, where we post all of our tool reviews and video editorials. Rob enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate on best practices in the remodeling industry. The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob Robillard

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