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How to Use a Rotary Laser


A rotary laser level is an incredibly powerful tool for speedy, accurate measuring because it can “see” anywhere along the complete 360-degree radius. If you set it up properly, you’ll be able to knock out all kinds of projects quickly!

Create a level support. Use a tripod whenever possible. A good tripod with adjustable legs and a bull’s-eye level speeds up the process. A tripod is always preferable because you can fine-tune its adjustments quickly and because it provides a stable platform for your instrument. You should always use a tripod with your rotary laser level.

  • TIP: If you don’t have a tripod, buy a small bull’s-eye level (about $1) from your local supply store in case you’re forced to improvise with a chair, bucket, or box. Lay the bull’s-eye on the surface where you want to place your rotary laser and fine-tune your “tripod” with a pile of dirt, a chunk of concrete, a wedge, or whatever’s handy. Make certain that your makeshift shim won’t collapse, shift, or roll before you place your rotary laser level on it.


Level the rotary laser. If your particular model is self-leveling, just turn it on. Others may require you to calibrate them by hand. Consult the owner’s manual for your model’s specific requirements. If your laser beam is not visible in daylight or over longer distances, use a receiver and listen for one or more beeps indicating that it has hit the target.

  • TIP: Copy the steps onto an index card, laminate it, and attach it to the laser level’s case handle for quick job-site reference.


Measure and mark your points.  If you can’t place the laser on a wall mount, use a target plate. A plumb beam projected at 90 degrees to the wall speeds the process of transferring points from a drawing to the actual work space, or from floor to ceiling.


That’s it! Be sure to let us know how you’re using your rotary laser, especially on tricky or unusual jobs.