Milwaukee REDSTICK Box Level Review

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Vial Strength – Impact Testing

I constructed a vial impact jig by rigging a gas pipe filled with metal fasteners, a metal plumb bob and a PVC pipe to jettison the weight.

We rounded over the plumb bob tip but it still represented a concentrate point which we theorized would cause a piercing failure vs a larger, more rounded over mass. [similar to a hammer head]

The weighted pipe weighed 6.5- pounds and I rigged it to drop from a height of 12-inches. This was done to simulate the impact of a tool or jobsite material dropping on the level to test, and demonstrate impact strength of both the Sharpsite and Stabila vials.

 

Milwaukee REDSTICK Box Level

Milwaukee Results

The Milwaukee level vial [center vial] survived 25 consecutive hits with 6.50-lb weight dropped from 12” height.  One of the strikes  [not part of the 25] was a glancing blow and scraped off some acrylic but did not negatively impact the vial integrity or its visibility.

After 25 blows we decided to raise the 6.5 -lb weigh to 24′ high and dropped it 13 times until complete failure. We noticed that the point of the plumb bob started to leave an indent after 6 strikes and eventually the point did pierce the vial, draining the fluid. It was at the 6th strike that I would classify the vial visibility [failed] as difficult to read.

We tested the plumb vials and the impact from the weight dislodged the vial from the frame. We were able to reinsert the vial back together but question the accuracy at this point.

Stabila Results

The Stabila level vial failed [smashed] on the first hit. The plumb vials also failed, by breaking, after one strike.

Available REDSTICK Box Level Models

Non-Magnetic

  • 16” REDSTICK™ Box Level (MLBX16) – $59.99
  • 24” REDSTICK™ Box Level (MLBX24) – $79.99
  • 32” REDSTICK™ Box Level (MLBX32) – $94.99
  • 36” REDSTICK™ Box Level (MLBX36) – $99.99
  • 48” REDSTICK™ Box Level (MLBX48) – $129.00
  • 59” REDSTICK™ Box Level (MLBX59) – $159.00
  • 72” REDSTICK™ Box Level (MLBX72) – $189.00
  • 78” REDSTICK™ Box Level (MLBX78) – $209.00
  • 96” REDSTICK™ Box Level (MLBX96) – $249.00
  • 24”/48” REDSTICK™ Box Level Set (MLBXS48) – $169.00
  • 78”/32” REDSTICK™ Box Level Jamb Set (MLBXJB) – $249.00

All magnetic models include amplified rare-earth magnets which provide excellent holding power in common metal applications. 

Milwaukee REDSTICK 24" Box Level
88.00

Magnetic

  • 16” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Box Level (MLBXM16) – $69.99
  • 24” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Box Level (MLBXM24) – $89.99
  • 32” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Box Level (MLBXM32) – $109.99
  • 36” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Box Level (MLBXM36) – $114.00
  • 48” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Box Level (MLBXM48) – $139.00
  • 59” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Box Level (MLBXM59) – $169.00
  • 72” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Box Level (MLBXM72) – $229.00
  • 78” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Box Level (MLBXM78) – $229.00
  • 96” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Box Level (MLBXM96) – $279.00
  • 24”/48” REDSTICK™ Box Level Set (MLBXSM48) – $179.00
  • 78”/32” REDSTICK™ Box Level Jamb Set (MLBXJBM) – $279.00

REDSTICK™ Compact Levels are built on a compact box level frame, the levels are designed for tight access use or jobsite installation applications with smaller working surfaces.

Compact

  • 24” REDSTICK™ Compact Box Level (MLCM24) – $49.99
  • 24” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Compact Box Level (MLCMM24) – $64.99
  • 48” REDSTICK™ Compact Box Level (MLCM48) – $69.99
  • 48” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Compact Box Level (MLCMM48) – $89.99
  • 72” REDSTICK™ Compact Box Level (MLCM72) – $99.99
  • 72” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Compact Box Level (MLCMM72) – $119.00
  • 24”/48” REDSTICK™ Compact Box Level Set (MLCMS48) – $129.00
  • 24”/48” REDSTICK™ Magnetic Compact Box Level Set (MLCMSM48) – $139.00

Is Your Level Accurate?

While “stacking” two levels together to compare vial readings is a common old-school way to check a level, it is not the correct way to check a vial’s accuracy. 

With a stated accuracy of .029 degrees (1/32″ in 72″), one level can be .029 degrees to the left and the other .029 degrees to the right, causing a slight difference in the compared bubble positions, while both bubbles still maintain their 1/32″ in 72″ accuracy.  The “correct” way to check a vial’s accuracy can be done quickly by following the instructions below.

To check the “level” or “horizontal” vial’s accuracy, place the level on any flat surface.

  1. Make a mark on the flat surface at one end of the level.
  2. Read the bubble & remember where it is.
  3. Turn the level 180 degrees (end to end), placing the level right on the line drawn from the original end placement.
  4. Read the level.
  5. If the bubble returns to the same place, the level is accurate. If it does not, it is not accurate.
  6. Do it again, regardless of the reading.
  7. To check the “plumb” or “vertical” vials, place the level against any door frame or wall.
  8. Make a mark on the wall beside the top vial.
  9. Read the bubble & remember where it is.
  10. Flip the level side for side (not end for end!).
  11. Read the level.
  12. If the bubble returns to the same place, the vial is accurate. If it does not, it is not accurate.
  13. Do it again, regardless of the reading.
  14. To check the second “plumb” vial, turn the level end for end.
  15. Repeat all of the steps as done for the first “plumb” vial.

Soft Storage Bags

According to Milwaukee they will be offering soft bags in July 2017. The bags will be offered the following ways:

  1. Stand-alone accessory bag: the retail cost is going to range from $79.00 to $ 149.00
  2. Kitted:  Milwaukee will offer combination offerings such as a Jamb kit, Contractor kit and Master kit ranging from $299.00 to $399.00
  3. Promotional Offerings: sales with different combination level and a free bag.

REDSTICK Guarantee

Milwaukee is hoping end users will compare their Lifetime Accuracy Guarantee to Stabila, and other level manufacturers warranties. They also have plans on offering a new level to compete with the Stabila R-Beam level, as well as, soft storage accessory bags.

Milwaukee or Stabilia? – “King of Levels”

There is no coincidence that the REDSTICK is priced the same as Stabilia. Milwaukee is making a concerted effort to position with, and fight for, the coveted title of “King of Levels!” It’s important to remember that this is Milwaukee’s first release against Stabilia.  Milwaukee has proven that they are a brand that can compete and deliver innovation, and they’ve now their entering the level world.

While I am not 100% convinced that the REDSTICK is a better level than Stabilia, I am convinced that they’re close. In fact, this new, healthy, competition will undoubtedly cause Stabila to sharpen their pencil. Overall, the REDSTICK is impressive, but still feels like a work in progress, not uncommon for a first run product. Lots of companies have released products with the promise of “more to come,” and Milwaukee is no different.  There’s more to come!

 

Many people are saying that Milwaukee is a power tool company and is offering a box level just to say that they have a box level.  I can tell you that this is definitely not the case, while they haven’t reached the coveted “King of Level,” category [yet] they’ve definitely created a level worthy for the “aristocracy.” If I were Stabila, I’d be watching the REDSTICK release closely.

Milwaukee REDSTICK Level Video Review

NOTE:

Milwaukee sent over some clarification after watching the video [embedded below] that I wanted to share. I mentioned in the video that we tested frame strength on both the strong and weak axis, and the all-metal backbone seemed to help more on one axis than the other. Apparently this is by design. This core reinforcement to the frame protects against premature bent frame failure and provides advanced durability and protection especially in the weak axis-which is the most common bent frame failure on the jobsite.

 

 

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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!”
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