Carbon fiber is incredibly strong for its weight, which is why you find it in golf clubs, jetliners, and high-end bike frames. As for hand tools, it first appeared in CarbonLite box wrenches. Now it’s being used in spirit levels. DeWalt previewed carbon fiber levels late last year at STAFDA and said they’d be coming out in Q2 of 2015. It took a little longer than that but the first one has come out, a 48-inch box-beam model that is said to be accurate to within 0.0005 inch per inch of length (the industry standard). I handled one and it was so light it almost felt like a Styrofoam stage prop—but it was definitely real, as it felt very rigid and had the usual vials. The end caps are slim and flush to the sides so it’s possible to run lines all the way into the corner when using the tool as a straight edge. The tool is 2.5 inches wide and 1.1 inches thick and has two hang holes and three vials.
DeWalt’s 48-inch carbon fiber level (DWHT43134) sells for about $100. That’s a hefty price for a 48-inch model that doesn’t have electronics or LED lights at the vials. But for the tradesman who wants to travel ultra-light or the early adopter who has to be the first to own any new tool, a carbon fiber level may be just the thing. The company plans to also offer 72- and 96-inch models, though it’s unclear when those will come out.