Our crew frequently frames tall walls and vaulted ceilings—work for which it is handy to have a laser. Sure, you can plumb walls and transfer layout with a spirit level or plumb bob, but it’s faster and more accurate with an electronic device. We’ve been using lasers for the last 10 years. We had a Stabila LAX300, which died last summer after 5 years of use. We replaced it with an inexpensive two-point laser we bought on the quick at Lowes. It was great while it lasted but it died after only one job. It was around that time that DeWalt announced their DW0822 so I got them to send one for testing.

The DW0822 is a combination laser, meaning it is both a line laser and a dot laser. There is a vertical line, a horizontal line, and dots (or points) that go up and down like a plumb bob.

We use this tool in place of a plumb bob so the dots are the number one feature for us. Most of the time we set the laser on the ground over a layout line and then carry it up to the ceiling or underside of a rafter. Other times we might set it on top of a beam and transfer layout to the floor.

The laser also generates a horizontal and a vertical line with a beam spread of nearly 180 degrees. We rarely use the vertical line but we often shoot level while setting windows and establishing grades for stair platforms and porches. The lines are pulsed, so if you have a detector you will be able to pick up the lines when they’re too faint to be seen in bright sunlight.

An integrated base raises the tool up; if you swivel it sideways there will be enough distance between the tool and the floor for you to see the down dot without having to get on your hands and knees. The housing has an offset so you can set it next to a bottom plate and plumb up to the top plate above.

The base also has two very strong magnets that allow you to stick the tool to something metal. This probably isn’t the best method, but we found that two 16d sinkers in the wall provide just enough metal to hang the laser. A metal stud would be perfect. What the magnets mean for us as framers is we don’t need a tripod to set windows; we can put a piece of metal on a wall at about the height we want and then move the laser up and down.

Another thing we like about this laser is the pendulum lock, which protects the internal mechanism from damage. The lack of this feature is why I think our cheap laser plumb bob died so quickly. We’ve dropped the DeWalt laser hard with the pendulum locked and except for some scratches the tool wasn’t damaged. It has a heavily rubberized housing and comes in a compact (easily stored) plastic case.

The DW0822 would be a worthwhile tool for any framer, finish carpenter, or sider to have. It’s accurate, easy to use, and has well thought out features. It’s not the least expensive model around but it’s rugged and sells for about $100 less than our last Stabila laser. If you intend to use it outside you’ll need to buy a detector—which will add to the price of the tool. We didn’t buy one for it because we already have one for our rotary laser.

DW0822 Specs

  • Modes: plumb and level lines; dots up and down
  • Accuracy: +/- 1/8” at 100’
  • Indoor Visibility Range: 50’
  • Range with detector (not included): 165’
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs
  • Power Supply: 3 “AA” Batteries
  • Self-Leveling Range: 10 Degrees
  • Class II Laser Product
  • COO: China
  • Web price: $240
  • Features: built-in magnetic wall mount; fits 1/4x20 tripod mount; locking pendulum