The Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level is simple but heat resistant, easy to use and very helpful if you work alone in a metalshop!
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Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level

Finally, a level that can take the heat!

Text and photos by Tom Hintz

Posted - 3-25-2011

Metalworkers routinely deal with the heat generated by grinding, cutting or welding and how those temperatures could impact the tools we use. In the case of levels too much heat can outright kill most of them. The folks at Johnson Level and Tool have come up with a torpedo level that was designed and manufactured with welders and their high temperature workplace in mind.

The Basics

The Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level featured in this review is 10-inches long and is made from cast aluminum. That alone puts it head and shoulders above a bunch of the more common DIY levels on the market. But there is more.

The base has a v-groove contour running along its length that lets the Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level “sit down” or register on round stock or corners. Johnson also added three v-faced magnets in that base so we can set this tool on many metal surfaces and it stays put. That ability is much like growing a third hand that can make working almost as easy as having a helper without the overhead.

The three level vials (left) cover the big majority of our work. The vials themselves (right) show Johnson's typical attention to design and function. These vials grab light to be easier to read and you can see them clearly from a surprising angle.
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Visible Vials

Of course a level is worthless if you cannot read the bubbles in the vials. Johnson Level and Tool has put a lot of effort into developing precise, easy-to-read vials like the SurroundView® vial system used on this level. These vials are designed to reflect more of the ambient light to make reading the bubbles easy all of the time but especially in dim conditions.

The Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level has three vials that show level, plumb and 45-degrees. That configuration should cover the big majority or our needs in the shop or on the job. The folks at Johnson Level and Tool say that the precision block vials used in the Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level will not crack, leak or fade. I have inadvertently stress tested other Johnson levels over the years and I have yet to compromise one of their bubble vials.

In the Shop

The size, shape, materials and magnets in the Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level make it better for welders and metalworkers than most DIY-type levels. I don’t want to sound too worked up about magnetism but adding it to a level meant for metalworkers really is different if you have cruised the level isle at your local big box store. The design and materials used to make the Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level really do have an impact on how easy it is to use in the kind of work we do. If you have ever tried to hold a level steady on something while holding it and the piece being installed steady while you tack it in place make this bit of magnetism even more impressive.

The V-shaped bottom and three inset magnets (left) allow the Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level to align itself to round materials. those magnets let you stick it in place (right) and then use both hands to get the piece installed, like having a free helper!
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The size and visibility of the vials appear to be perfect and make reading the Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level easier than some other designs that seem to think we always have a clear view of the vials and the bubbles within them. I suspect that I am much like most of you in that I can get in some odd positions while building just about anything. Being able to read a level accurately while in some of those positions is a big help. For me the Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level falls into that group.

Conclusions

The Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level is a relatively simple tool but I like the idea that it sticks to metal and that it doesn’t melt when I weld near it. The vials are very easy to read and appear to be both tough and accurate. Those are good things also but I keep going back to the magnets and construction. For metalworkers those two features may be the most important.

The Johnson Magnetic Welder's Torpedo Level has a suggested retail of just $27.78 (3-25-2011) so even without the common discounted street price getting this tool to make your hot working life easier is not a budget-buster. There are few days when I would not give up $25 for a little peace of mind.

Visit the Johnson Level and Tool web site – Click Here

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