Like any other engineer, I love tools. When I saw a laser-level kit
selling for $20 at a local electronics flea market, I purchased it with
delight. My delight soon faded when I saw that the base was so
wobbly that the laser spot would move up and down by more than
1° of arc. Prying into the interior of the base, it became obvious
that the design had several shortcomings. After a failed attempt at a field
expedient, I obtained a permanent fix with my belt sander. From now on,
I will beware of bargain tools at the flea market.
1. If you hold the base firmly against the table and put the slightest pressure on the laser, the spot would wobble due to the sloppy fit of the pivot mechanism.
2. The pivot mechanism was poorly
designed. The boss and sleeve had
excessive clearance that allowed the
base to wobble. The sleeve was too
long, so the top rested on the inner
boss flange rather than on the plastic
outer rim of the base.
3. A large plastic nut screws into this boss. Unfortunately, the boss is a bit long for manufacturing clearance, so the nut applied no pressure to the inner flange.
4. I took the level to a local burger joint as
a team-building exercise. By cutting up a
ketchup cup with a Swiss army knife and
bending a paper clip, my fellow engineers
fashioned a shim that considerably
stiffened the assembly.
5. The fix involved sanding down
the inner sleeve so that the
top assembly would rest on its
outer rim rather than the center
post. Sanding the inner boss
tightened the assembly. I sadly
disposed of the paper clip and