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Best construction levels 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated March 1, 2023

Brayden DiazHi there, I’m Brayden Diaz. After more than 33 hours of research and testing, which included using 18 different construction levels in five cities and interviewing product teams at five major companies, I made a list of the best construction levels of 2018

Eventually, I found something that would suit my needs but it occurred to me that I wasn’t the only one who might be having the same problems I did. Without further-a-do, let’s take a look at the Top 3 list in 2018 which are available in the market.

Best construction levels of 2018

You can make a choice based on the my list as you shop. On that note, I review the three best construction levels of 2018 to help you get value for your money. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your comfort, style, or accessibility, we have picks to fit a variety of needs and budgets. Now, let’s get to the gist of the matter: which are the best construction levels for the money?

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
5 points
5 points
4 points
5 points
5 points
4 points
4 points
4 points
4 points
5 points
4 points
5 points
Awards 1
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How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the construction levels by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



№1 – Driak 2PC 32mm Bullseye Level Bubble Spirit Level Surface Leveler for Camera tripods

Driak 2PC 32mm Bullseye Level Bubble Spirit Level Surface Leveler for Camera tripods

Level Size :D32MM ,H7MM
White backing,Clear liquid
Acrylic housing
Literally no flaws

Why did this construction levels win the first place?

I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! I also liked the delivery service that was fast and quick to react. It was delivered on the third day. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack.
















№2 – Driak Bullseye Construction Levels For Precision Instrument Levelling

Driak Bullseye Construction Levels For Precision Instrument Levelling

Waterproof finish
Fhigh strength plastic vial
Measure level and angle up to 5 degree
A little bit heavy.
A little pricier than some of the other.

Why did this construction levels come in second place?

Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed.
















№3 – Topcon 313980753 RL-H4C Self Leveling D-Cell Battery Construction Laser Level

Topcon 313980753 RL-H4C Self Leveling D-Cell Battery Construction Laser Level

2600-feet working area
LS-80L Long-Distance laser sensor
IP66 water-resistant housing
The large size.
I didn’t like the attitude of managers and the overall quality of service..

Why did this construction levels take third place?

It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. A very convenient model. It is affordable and made of high-quality materials. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new.
















construction levels Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy construction levels, right? No!

Line Lasers

Line lasers project a straight line from one point to the other, over a distance of 6to 100 feet.

Depending on the model of the laser line level, it can project multiple lines, thereby enabling you to check for “straightness”, as well as “squareness”.

Line lasers are typically compact and can be mounted on ladders or even a regular camera tripod.

Horizontal VS Dual-Beam Lasers

Horizontal lasers emit only laser beam, and are useful for checking floor leveling. It has the capacity to highlight irregularities in the work surface, its applications are limited, but can also be cheaper compared to dual beam lasers.

Meanwhile, dual beam lasers emit two beams – one horizontal, and one vertical. Most dual beam laser levels have individual buttons for the two beams so they can be used separately, hence allowing greater flexibility.

This type of laser can be used simultaneously as plumb and level reference lines. It is best used for throwing lines onto floors and walls at 90 degrees, hence ensuring the squareness of a surface.

Some dual beam lasers project a cross line instead of individual horizontal and vertical lines. These types of dual beam lasers are perfect for installation of much bigger wall fixtures as well as partitions and drop ceilings.

Rotary lasers are also dual beam lasers in that one beam is a plumb up dot on the ceiling and the other is a horizontal line around the room.

This kind of laser level works best if you want to check the leveling of the walls and if you have to install a wainscoting or cabinetry that spans the entire room.

IP Rating

IP stands for “Ingress Protection” and refers to the quality of sealing of a product and its effectiveness at preventing the intrusion of foreign bodies (such as dirt and water) to the product core.

The first digit of the IP rating refers to the size of objects that can intrude the product, while the second digit refers to the capacity of the product to repel or protect against moisture.

Mounting options are important because there are certain applications when we want the laser level to be stable.

Most laser levels can be mounted on a standard tripod, while others require a special mounting device.

As I have pointed out earlier, the most important consideration for choosing the best laser level all depends on what you want to do with it.

In this way, the Dewalt laser in the line laser level reviews above do not compete with each other.

Each one can be used for certain applications, with each newer model capable of more applications as the older ones.

Dual beam lasers (cross line lasers): best used for layout and installation of electrical and plumbing systems, walls and doors, as well as the fitting of tiles onto walls. It is also useful for when you need to install a long row of wall fittings and cabinetry.

beam lasers or layout lasers: has all the benefits of horizontal and vertical lasers, plus the third plumb line checks for squareness of walls and floors. It is best for cabinetry and jobs that involve lots of 90 degrees and 4degrees measurements.

Rotary lasers/line lasers with laser detectors: these lasers work best for job sites located in well-lit areas, as well as those spanning more than 50 feet.

Battery Power

DEWALT DW089K Self-Leveling Line Laser runs on ordinary AA batteries. The first set of batteries comes with the product, which last for a very long time. The Laser level is only about inches long. It is a cross line and self-leveling laser. The signal light is very powerful and holds in the wall for a long time.

You can very easily see the mark and work according to that. But the signal light does not make that impact in harsh Sun Light and that is probably the only little flaw of this tool, otherwise it’s a great Laser level.

Great Design

This product first came out in the market in 2004; at that time Laser level was not that popular among the common people. But over the years the brand has made a lot of update to the product and their latest one is the best so far. The design is more compact this time around.

Easy to Use

The easiest way to use this laser level is to set the product at a 90-degree angle from the place where you want to work and then it will do the job itself. The bright red signal almost makes you feel that mark will be permanent on the wall, as it is so bright.

Powerful Battery

To get the most powerful and accurate signal, it is important to always change the batteries at regular intervals. The lights work best when it is used in indoors, but you can also work with it outside if it’s a cloudy day. You can take the tool anywhere you want; it is dust and water durable.

Very Durable

This laser level is dust and water durable and can be taken out to in kind of weather condition. It is really easy to set it up. You can also change the angle of the signal as far your needs very easily. But one of the little drawbacks of this laser level is that the signal cannot be seen so easily if there is harsh Sunlight. This is its only single fault; all the other features work absolutely amazingly.

Customer Supports

Bosch provides great customer supports to their customers and you can get fixed anything for free if it comes under the warranty period. The product got great reviews from many critics and users themselves. This product is useful and cheap, so there is no reason to say no to this laser level.

We know we said only positive things in this above laser level review of the product but it is the best laser level in the market at its price range, so we cannot help ourselves.

No matter if you need a laser level for your personal use or you are a professional home builder, this one is truly the best laser level that you can get. ; it costs you less than a dinner at out. But the service this tool gives is no less than any professional quality Laser levels.

It is best for everyone, be it a professional home builder or people who love doing things around the house by themselves. It is great for installing ceilings, putting on a wall shelf, hanging a picture frame and basically anything you need to put accurately on a wall. The signal is built with mark free technology, so it never leaves any unwanted mark on your wall.

Great Signal Light

One of the greatest things about the signal light is that it changes automatically from red to green; even more expensive laser levels than this one do not have this feature. Then there is also an audio signal, which helps you immensely if the work wall is out of sight, as we already told you that this product will keep surprising you with its capabilities much after you purchased it. It is simply amazing.

Make sure that the angle is straight

Now you need to make sure that a laser level in a place that is straight from the wall. The best work is done when the laser level can point out in a 90-degree angle. You can, of course, point out the signal in other angles, but it is always best when it is done in a straight angle.

Save the battery

Once you can see the signal in a straight line on the wall and you mark the two spots where you will install the furniture or the shelf, mark it with an erasable marker. Now turn the laser level off. If you keep the laser level on all the time then not only you will need to change the battery fast but it will also shorten the laser level’s lasting time.


Laser levels were designed to speed up the setting up process in the workplace. Using this device is quick, easy and reliable. The accuracy over long distance is far more superior to that of a simple spirit level, which is suitable for shorter distances, but will give less accurate results for longer distance leveling.

These tools offer more functions such as plumbing and distance measuring, making it a multipurpose tool which saves money, saves room and is all around more convenient for the buyer.

Rotary Lasers

A rotary laser sends out a 360-degree spinning laser beam creating a highly accurate “chalk line” or leveling line from which to work.

This is very useful for a wide range of jobs including tiling, aligning and plumbing a wall, leveling floors, aligning kitchen units, any type of basic survey work, site layout, calculating grades and much more.

Once acquired, you will need to set up your rotary laser using the manual. The most beneficial way to set up the level will be using a tripod, so it is essential that you purchase a set or buy one separately.

Next you will need to turn the device on and begin leveling. It is ideal to purchase a self-leveling laser as you won’t need to calibrate the measurement – allowing you to get much more accurate measurements. Once this is complete you can begin measuring by pointing the laser where you need it to be.

Our recommended rotary lasers would be our GPR R9H, which is a red beam laser, and GPR-G9, a green beam laser level. Both are extremely quick, automatic laser levels. A bestselling rotary laser to also consider would be a TopCon RLH4C. Considered the best on the market with excellent features including up to 100 hours of battery life, an electronic horizontal self-leveling feature and much more. It is an expensive investment but will almost certainly save you money in the long run.

Grade Lasers

Grade lasers are accurate and reliable rotating lasers that can be used for applications that require precise grade. There are single and dual grade lasers available and so can be used wherever required.

These instruments perform a wide range of tasks including laying out a construction site, collecting height and angle data, aligning concrete forms or complete site preparation and earthworks.

Pipe Lasers

The clue is in the name, pipe lasers (also known as utility construction lasers) are used for work in pipes. This can be above the ground, in manholes or in the pipes themselves.

Our recommended pipe laser is the Leica Piper 100. Powerful and compact, the Leica Piper is the only pipe laser that fits inside a 100 mm (four inch) pipe. It is built with solid cast-aluminium housings, and is loaded with features that will improve productivity and minimize downtime on the job-site.

Dot Lasers

A Dot laser is very similar to a line laser but instead of projecting a line it produces a dot. Usually these lasers will project a dot, or multiple, which will appear once the laser is level. When showing multiple dots, they are seen at exactly the right angle to one another.

We recommend our Leica Lino PDot Laser Level, which is affordable and simple to use. It’s self levelling and comes in a rugged, job site ready body. You might also want to consider the Leica Lino L2PLine and Dot Laser Level. It combines all the advantages of the lino dot lasers meaning you’ll be well equipped for any alignment or levelling task.

What to Look for When Choosing a Construction Laser

Manual leveling lasers require you to manually level them through the adjustment of footscrews and bubble vials. Self-leveling lasers automatically find and maintain a level within a specific range. With some lasers, you can use the bubble vial for a “rough” level and then the laser will more accurately level itself. Some automatic leveling lasers will continuously level themselves as needed and will even shut off if they get out of level by a certain range. Typically, self-leveling lasers level with the use of an internal pendulum, while automatic leveling lasers level by electronic servo motors.

Most Popular Horizontal Rotating Laser

The Leica Rugby 50 is the most popular horizontal rotating laser because of its ease of use and durability in the field. The Rugby 50 has a simple, one-button operation and is fully automatic.

Primarily used in general construction, this model is very rugged, reliable, and accurate – perfect for today’s contractor. This laser has a high-impact composite housing, is fully sealed with an enclosed head, is watertight for all conditions, and has a long battery life.

The Leica Rugby 50 is designed to always turn on in automatic self-leveling mode, so you do not need to worry if the laser has been set up correctly. The H.I. or elevation alert function monitors the laser’s leveling. If there is significant movement or disturbance of the tripod, the alert function will activate and the laser will stop operation and sound an alarm to prevent possible errors.

The Rugby 50 continuously self-levels during normal operation, and if a small vibration or disturbance causes an out-of-level condition, the head stops momentarily and the emission LED will blink until the unit re-levels.

Most Popular Rotating Laser for the Value

The Leica Rugby 800 Series (810/820/830/840) are the most popular rotating lasers for the value. With more functions than the Rugby 50, this series offers simple and reliable one-button lasers that protect against mistakes. The single axis slopes up to 45° with a manual slope adapter, and the built-in 1cm detection window allows you to easily detect its beam over the entire distance.

The Rugby 820 is ideal for concrete forming, pad placement and framework leveling, and setting foundations and footings. The Rugby 830 is most used for precision jobs such as long-range leveling applications in general construction and machine control up to 4,430 feet and 140° F.

The solar panel enables you to power and charge anywhere, anytime, and the maximum temperature stability guarantees the highest accuracy across the entire operating temperature range.

The Rugby 840 laser has the highest application performance for any leveling, aligning, and squaring applications on site. Smart Targeting enables tie-in slopes in single or dual axis and automatically aligns at the touch of a button. Smart Lock monitors and corrects the laser plane in real time, ensuring you always have reliable results.

Most Popular Dual-Grade Laser

These lasers also have agricultural applications such as land leveling or tiling, and are used for concrete forming and framework, retention ponds, and setting foundations and footings.

Features include a simple-to-use, five-button keypad, real-time grade matching, dual batteries, a scope mount in both axes, a visible and invisible laser beam, grade capability in both axes, long-range remote control, axis alignment, laser plane stabilization, and enhanced operating range.

Most Popular Interior Construction Laser

The Leica Rugby 5Interior Laser is the most popular interior construction laser we sell. It provides contractors with everything they need for just about any leveling or alignment job, from drop ceilings and floor layouts to setting supports for windows, cabinets, interior walls, and more.

With the Leica Rugby 55, the stationary beam can be quickly positioned in 90-degree increments, making layout easier. By selecting zero RPS with the head speed button, you can automatically position the rotating head to plumb down for alignment of the laser over a reference point.

A “sleep mode” feature allows you to use the remote to put the laser into sleep mode for two hours, so you can save battery life without disturbing your setup.

The Leica Rugby 5features an easy-to-use keypad, a watertight seal, variable head speeds, selectable scanning modes, a bright red beam, and an alkaline or rechargeable battery pack. Accessories include an IR remote control, wall mount bracket, ceiling target grid, alkaline battery holder, and a single-cell alkaline battery.

Most Popular Line and Dot Laser

The Leica Lino Series are popular line and dot lasers that are available with either three or five points, or with crosslines.

The Leica Lino Pis an easy-to–use, three-point laser is ideal for plumbing projects. This self-leveling laser comes equipped with Power Range Technology™ and a magnetic multifunctional adapter.

The Leica Lino Phas five laser beams. The beams are exactly at right angles to each other, which makes setting-out tasks easier and interior fitting-out more precise and efficient. This easy-to–use, self-leveling laser also comes equipped with Power Range Technology™ and a magnetic multifunctional adapter.

Most Rugged Construction Laser

The Leica Rugby 800 Series are some of the toughest lasers on the market today, popular because of their rugged design.

These lasers include the Leica PROTECT lifetime manufacturer’s warranty plus a two-year Knockdown Warranty – a major selling point to our customers. This warranty covers the entire product lifetime, including free repair or replacement of all defective parts. If any knockdown occurs within two years, all repairs to the internal self-leveling assembly are also covered under the policy.

These lasers also include a new generation of lithium-ion battery that is unbreakable and can be charged anywhere, anytime on site. The Rugby Series are also the only lasers in the industry with a military-grade certification (MIL-STD810G) and IP6rating.

Wall Art

Once you reach level 99, it is time to go and purchase your skill cape, and reap the rewards of all that money and time you spent getting your construction up. You will head to any real estate agent around Runescape where you will be able to purchase the skill cape for 99K gp. Once you have reached level 99, you will no longer be required to pull apart and rebuild any of your house, so at this point you may decide to build your house how you would like it.

Material construction

The material construction of the ideal shoe should be either leather or synthetic. The leather shoes provide the convenient care including deodorizing benefits. You should a rock climbing shoe that is both comfortable and functional for your needs. More so, many high performance shoes are synthetic, and vegans tend to prefer these shoes.

Synthetic materials- The synthetic shoes are not prone to stretching, and this makes them durable options for your needs. In most cases, you will come across perforated synthetic uppers that provide more solid fabric benefits. Some materials offer optimal ventilation to make them perfect for long lasting applications.

Climbing Shoe Outsole

Otherwise referred to as the sole, the outsole is the rubber construction of the shoe that gets in contact with the surface. This type of rubber and its density play a major role in your performance.

Outsole thickness: The density of the outsole also plays a major role in the performance of your shoe. In most cases, these shoes have sol sizes that average in between 4-5.mm. These provide optimal support for edging and they also durable solutions. That said, novice climbers are recommended to consider the shoes with thicker soles. These tend to last for long durations, and they also provide optimal support for your needs.

General tips

There is no spec that tells you which camera is best. And few specs can be taken at face value.

Resolution (“megapixels”) doesn’t matter unless you’re a pro or already understand why. Sensor size, autofocus system and image-stabilization system are among the features that do.

Don’t get hung up on making sure you’ve got the “best” or newest in a particular class. The truth is, one camera rarely beats the rest on all four major criteria — photo quality, performance, features and design. And last-year’s (or even the year before’s) models tend to be perfectly fine as well as a lot cheaper.

Try before you buy. Make sure it fits comfortably in your hand and that it’s not so big or heavy that you’ll prefer to leave it at home. It should provide quick access to the most commonly used functions, and menus should be simply structured, logical and easy to learn. Touchscreen models can allow for greater functionality, but can also be frustrating if the controls and menus are poorly organized.

So the hunt began. I filtered through construction management books and found the ones that stood out in reviews, were featured on multiple “favorites” lists, and that were frequently referenced because of their stellar reputations.

Yes, all 3books. I’m sure that eventually more will be added.

This book is a great little primer for new construction businesses looking to set up and streamline their accounting solutions.

The values are

Upper exposure action values (daily or weekly average noise exposure above which the employer is required to take reasonably practicable measures to reduce noise exposure, such as engineering controls or other technical measures. The use of hearing protection is also mandatory if the noise cannot be controlled by these measures, or while these measures are being planned or carried out.) peak sound pressure of 13dB. peak sound pressure of 140 dB.

L  = Low

The terms refer to the noise reduction of the chosen hearing protector at High, Medium and Low frequencies.

What are dBs (decibels)? dB (decibel) is used to measure the sound intensity. Because the human ear can register sounds across a huge range of intensities a linear scale is not suitable for measurement.

Selecting ear defenders for your workforce

Every person will have different requirements when it comes to ear defenders. It is essential to get the right fit, the right protection, and ensure the user understands how to use and maintain their ear defenders.

Consider the frequency, pitch and intensity of the noise hazard. In industries such as mining workers can be exposed to very low frequencies.

Selecting ear defenders for your industry

Music, construction and airport workers are exposed to different noise and therefore have very different requirements. There are many ear defenders and headphones specially designed for musicians so that the full range of frequencies can be heard and there are specialist hearing protectors for use during firearms practice. Some ear defenders will only be suitable for indoor or outdoor use – so check before you buy.

Selecting ear defenders based on your risk assessment

Your risk assessment should look at the task, the user, the environment, the exposure action values and limit values. The assessment should also identify what you need to do to comply with the law and identify any employees who need to be provided with health surveillance.

As with any personal protective equipment that you procure, ear defenders should meet the requirements of international standards and relevant legislation. CE markings, EN, ISO and BS codes show which equipment meets standards for safety, design and performance. See the legislation and standards section of this guide to understand more about the exact standards and markings you should be looking for.

Also consider decibels, Single Noise Ratings and frequencies as detailed above.

Remember some headphones will not meet the criteria of ear protection.

Softwood lumber

Softwood lumber is cheaper because conifer trees grow faster than hardwoods. Consequently, softwood lumber is primarily used in construction, like in framing a house or building a deck. If you’re going to do a home DIY project, you’re likely going to use softwood lumber. You can find it aplenty at your local big box home improvement store.

Hardwood lumber

Hardwood trees take a much longer time to grow to maturity, so the lumber they’re turned into is much more expensive than the softwood variety. Consequently, hardwood lumber is typically used in fine woodworking, furniture construction, cabinetry, and flooring. If you want to get into woodworking, you’ll primarily be using hardwoods. Big box hardware stores don’t stock much of it though, so you’ll often have to visit a specialty woodworking store or a lumberyard to purchase it.

With the basic distinction between softwood and hardwood lumber out of the way, let’s get into the nitty gritty of each type.

Softwood Lumber Classifications and Grades

Because every tree is different, individual pieces of lumber will show a wide range of quality in strength. To ensure that the right kind of lumber is used for the right job, the U.S. Department of Commerce established the American Softwood Lumber Standard.

Yard Lumber

Lumber intended for ordinary construction and building purposes. Yard lumber is usually graded visually, meaning that an inspector looks at the lumber’s appearance to give it a grade. Yard lumber is broken down into two further categories: common and select.

No. Common. Highest quality of common lumber. No. Common lumber will have a few small, tight knots.

No. Common. Has larger knots than found in No. Common. No. is often used for paneling and shelving and is suitable for general woodworking projects.

No. Common. Has more and bigger knots than No. The wood is typically damaged and blemished. Well-suited for fences, boxes, and crates.

Select Yard Lumber.

Select yard lumber looks much nicer than common lumber because it has no or very few knots. Because of the fine appearance of select yard lumber, it is intended for natural and painted finishes.

C Select. Almost completely clear of any defects and is widely used in interior trims and cabinets.

D Select. Has a fine appearance, but contains a few dime-sized knots.

Shop and Factory Lumber

This is lumber that’s selected for “remanufacturing purposes and intended for non-structural applications.” Doors, ladders, pencils, molding, and boxes are typically made from shop and factory lumber. The grading will vary depending on how it’s going to be used. So shop lumber that’s used for doors will have a different grading system than shop lumber used to make pencils. While each use has a different grading nomenclature, the grading is typically based on how much high-quality wood you can get from that piece of lumber for an intended use.

Hardwood Sizes

Hardwood lumber classification and grading is much simpler than softwood lumber. For hardwoods, appearance is the primary factor in grading. The National Hardwood Lumber Association governs the standard grading system of hardwoods in the United States.

There are four possible hardwood lumber grades. Grade is determined by the amount of clear surface area a particular board has on its poorest looking side (with hardwoods one side will look better than the other). A higher grade board is long and wide with a large percentage of its area defect-free. The clear lumber can be removed from the board with a few large cuts.

Example of a piece of FAS hardwood lumber

FAS (First and Second). This is the highest quality grade. An FAS board must be at least inches wide, to 1feet long, and is 83.3% clear on its poorest looking side.

Different hardwoods have different criteria you look for when giving the above grades. You’ll want to check the National Hardwood Association’s website for details.

Common Lumber Defects

There are a few plywood grading systems out there, but most of them follow an A-D classification with A being the best. Plywood is also classified as Exterior, Exposure 1, Exposure 2, and Interior. The type of plywood you choose will depend on economics, how much exposure to the elements the wood will get, and whether looks are important to you.

Exterior. Fully waterproof bond (glue) between the layers and designed for applications subject to permanent exposure to weather and moisture.

Exposure Fully waterproof bond but not for permanent exposure to weather or moisture.

Exposure Interior type with intermediate bond. Intended for protected construction applications where slight moisture exposure can be expected.

Interior. Interior applications only.

If you don’t have a lot of money and you don’t care if your plywood is baby smooth on the surface, go for a lower grade. It’s just as strong as the nicer looking grades.

A. Smooth, paintable surface. Repairs to the veneer like replacing knots with patches can be made, but no more than 1Used for projects like cabinets.

D. Larger knots and knotholes permitted.

You’ll often see plywood with two grades as in “A-C.” This means that the face side is an A grade and the back side is a C grade.

In addition to the above two classifications, plywood is also rated as Sheathing, Stud I-Floor, and siding. This just specifies what a particular end use a piece of plywood was designed for. Most of the plywood you buy from the hardware store for projects around the house like a workbench will be classified as sheathing.

Canyon’s Grand Canyon cross-country hardtail

Cross-country bikes tend to use larger diameter 29in wheels — so are often referred to as 29ers — combined with lightly treaded, low-volume and fast-rolling tyres for maximum speed, though some brands offer them with 650b wheels — also called 27.5in.

They tend to use steeper head angles combined with longer stems and narrower bars for quick reacting handling and to place the rider into an efficient pedalling position.

The downside of this type of geometry is that it can make them harder to control on steeper descents, especially when combined with shorter-travel suspension and skinnier tyres.

Cheaper cross-country bikes will use alloy frames, but carbon is the default choice for top-end race bikes — although exotic materials such as titanium are sometimes seen. They tend to have a very wide range of gears to allow steep climbing as well as a high top speed.

Buy one if: you like pushing your heart rate as high as it’ll go and riding for hours on end.

Entry: £750 (hardtail), £1,000 (full suspension)

This is the most popular style of bike because it can be used for pretty much anything.

Trail bikes have more relaxed angles to give greater confidence when descending and kit that’s designed to deal with more punishment. They use shorter stems and wider handlebars to help improve control at speed, while tyres will have more aggressive tread.

Enduro bike

Enduro is a racing format in which the descents are timed, but you still have to pedal yourself around the course. That means that these bikes are designed to perform exceptionally well down steep and difficult trails but are still light and efficient enough to pedal back to the top.

Enduro bikes tend to have more travel than ‘normal’ trail bikes, and are almost exclusively full suspension. Most use around 160-170mm of travel at either end, paired to tough wheels and reinforced tyres. The suspension units they use are still air-sprung but tend to be heavier duty with a wide range of damping adjustments to tune their downhill performance.

Some have remotes that allow you to change the bike’s geometry and travel between a downhill and uphill mode. Many have just one chainring and a device to prevent the chain falling off paired to a wide range of gears at the back. Enduro bikes are also called ‘all mountain’ bikes as they’re ideal for riding in mountainous and technical terrain.

Downhill bike

As the name suggests, these bikes are about doing one thing; going down steep and technical tracks very, very quickly.

They have around 200mm of travel at either end, often using coil sprung suspension that’s optimised for pure traction and support, rather than pedalling ability.

To put up with the huge forces the bikes are put under, the forks have legs that extend above the head tube and are then braced together, known as a ‘double-crown’ or ‘triple-clamp’ fork. Again, aluminium is the choice for cheaper bikes, while pro-level machinery will be carbon.

Electric mountain bike

Motorised mountain bikes are becoming very popular indeed, and it’s now possible to find electric mountain bikes in pretty much all of the disciplines listed above.

These bikes incorporate a motor and battery into their design and work by assisting the pedalling that a rider delivers. The power on offer is usually adjusted via a control unit at the bike’s handlebar.

These bikes are significantly heavier than their non-motorised equivalents but can make light work of climbing up the steepest of gradients. Don’t go thinking riding an e-bike is a piece of cake though, these can deliver a workout that many pros use to train with.

Dirt jump bikes

As the name suggests, these are meant for hitting jumps or pump tracks.

They use tough frames that are easy to move about in the air, short-travel forks and often only have one gear for simplicity.

Singlespeed mountain bikes

Popular with masochists, these bikes only have one gear.

The lack of moving parts means they’re simple to maintain and many people like to run them through the winter months to prevent damaging another bike.

They can be very cheap but many are also expensive, exotic bikes built by niche custom framebuilders. They’re usually hardtails or fully rigid.

OTW Staff

Discover what’s available for a new year and a new season of boating and fishing.

The idea that there is any boat out there that is better than all the rest is simply a myth. Likewise, there is no such thing as the best fishing boat, best family boat, best center console, or best bay boat.

Cobia 26CC

In 2005, Maverick Boat Company purchased the Cobia brand and incorporated years of boat-building knowledge into the Cobia lineup, making it a true fishing boat. Currently, Cobia offers nine center consoles along with a capable bay boat and a family-friendly dual console. Check out a Cobia and expect to find high performance, luxury, and fishing smarts all wrapped in a stunning package and delivered at a tremendous value.

The latest Cobia to take style, fishing performance, and family comfort to the next level, the new 26CC is perfectly proportioned with tons of cockpit space, whether behind the deluxe tackle station with premium helm seating or in front of the forward entry console with a huge step-down head area. Split bow seating with optional forward-facing backrests allows for access all the way forward. The simple-to-deploy rear bench seat makes converting from a fishing machine to a party boat as easy as stowing the rods in the ample rod storage.


The Contender’s clean lines and aggressive entry make it a good-looking boat and a comfortable-riding one, too. Contender offers boats ranging from the 2Sport to the 40 Express. The Contender line has been evolving rapidly, introducing new models while incorporating numerous improvements throughout the company’s model line. The Contender 2Sport keeps with their 30-year heritage of building tournament-grade fishing machines. It comes equipped with a wide array of fishing features including a 26-gallon elevated transom livewell, a 94-gallon in-floor fish box forward, and twin 30-gallon fish boxes in the cockpit. For family-friendly appeal, it boasts a custom console that can be equipped with a head, and the forward cockpit quickly converts to a large seating area.


Edgewater fishing boats are used by serious sportsmen who demand practical features, reliability and durability. With their proprietary Single Piece Infusion construction, they achieve an incredible strength-to-weight ratio that, when combined with the sea-keeping ability of their variable deadrise deep-V hulls, produces handling, performance, fuel efficiency and range better than many other boats of the same size. Designed to perform with a single outboard, the EdgeWater 248CX is equipped with a reliable Yamaha F300 four-stroke outboard. It features a redesigned bow seating area with plusher amenities, including forward-facing seat backs. The helm also is an all-new design with yacht styling.

Hatteras Yachts

Hatteras Yachts is recognized as a world leader in the construction of convertible sportfishing and luxury motor yachts. Based in North Carolina, Hatteras began production of its first model in 195and pioneered the production of large offshore fiberglass powerboats. Hatteras builds sportfishing yachts from 4to 7feet. With performance and amenities not typically found in a mid-40-foot yacht, the Hatteras 45EX Cruiser offers a legendary Hatteras experience that delivers on the company’s tradition of unmatched build and ride quality, while equipping all those aboard with a lavish setting to relax, entertain and pursue life’s adventures.

Jupiter 4SB

With over 40 years of boat-building experience, the Jupiter team is committed to building technologically advanced offshore sportfishing boats. Every Jupiter is individually built to the exact specifications of the sportsman who demands the very best in offshore performance, style and versatility. Jupiter’s Flagship 4comes in the Express model as well as the new enclosed Sport Bridge. The 41’s start with a time-tested and proven deep-V hull design built for running efficiently through all conditions in comfort, while also offering speed when you want it, courtesy of triple F350-hp Yamaha V-outboards with optional F300-hp quad upgrade. The boat is equally at home cruising with friends and family or trolling the canyons. All Jupiters come with a limited lifetime structural hull warranty for the original owner.

Key West

Key West boats are built by fishermen, for fishermen. Since 1986, the goal of Key West Boats has been to provide high-quality, high-value products enhanced by a commitment to customer service. Their line of outstanding boats is designed primarily for saltwater use, both inshore and offshore. The Key West 239DFS is their largest dual console. Like the rest of the fleet, this big runabout is self-bailing and foam-filled to provide level and upright flotation. Standard features include a forward, in-floor fish box with overboard drain, a freshwater shower station with 9-gallon tank, and a molded-in swim platform with telescoping ladder.

The Mako brand has been a strong one in the Northeast for decades. Their reputation for being rugged, durable boats is what attracts fishermen to them. These boats incorporate super-strong transoms plus a unique stringer grid system that’s bonded to the hull to create tremendous structural rigidity. The whole assembly is foam-filled to produce a boat that’s incredibly strong and quiet, at rest and at speed. From their 1LTS bay boat to the 28CC, each Mako provides all the quality, features and peace of mind you need to take your fishing farther than ever. Check out the Mako 234CC, a perfect combination of ample size and towability, with the power and range to get you out to where the big ones cruise.

Nautic Star 2602CC Legacy

The engineers, designers and craftsman at NauticStar are rich in boatbuilding knowhow. Three generations of hands-on experience have led to the knowledge of what will simply work and what will work exceptionally well. Their popular Nautic Bay boat series offers bay boats from 1to 2feet, and the XS series includes fishing-first center consoles and a 20-foot dual console.

NauticStar boats recently launched the 260Legacy Center Console. Its roomy cockpit features plush seating with a flip-out backrest in the bow and three-across aft seating that conceals the 18-gallon cooler and oversized. insulated 50-gallon fish box. The large head is fiberglass lined with a sink, mirror, and SeaDek flooring. The leaning post is outfitted with ergonomically correct seating with flip-up bolsters, a large, 21-gallon baitwell, a switch panel, and conveniently located freshwater washdown.


Pioneer Boats is a family-owned and operated business that produces center console, fish and ski, and bay boats. They use a high-quality resin/gelcoat system to ensure each boat is built with outstanding strength-to-weight ratio. The hulls are 100 percent composite and filled with pressure-injected flotation foam between the hull and deck. The Pioneer 22Sportfish, with its tournament-inspired 32-gallon livewell, 96-gallon fuel capacity, and twin insulated fish boxes, is a fishing machine. Its clean, open deck configuration allows for flexibility and roominess. Power, up to 300 horsepower, ensures that you will have plenty of speed to get where you need to be in a hurry.


What started out as a small company building fishing boats for local guides in 196has grown to become one of the largest fiberglass fishing boat companies in the world. Pro-Line’s center consoles and express platforms are built with wood-free designs so you can focus on fishing and not worry about rot. The Pro-Line 20 Sport offers incredible value in a boat that is small enough to keep at the house, yet big enough for the serious fisherman or even the whole family. Features include a large Euro-styled console with an enclosed head, under-gunwale rod storage, a lighted baitwell with raw-water washdown, a swim platform, two aft jump seats, and a forward storage box.

Pursuit S 408

For more than half a century, three generations of this family-owned business have built distinctive outboard-powered fishing boats in offshore, center console, sport and dual console configurations, in models from 1to 40 feet. Pursuit boats have a reputation for luxury combined with sport utility, providing the ideal platform for adventures on the water. The all-new Pursuit S 40beckons big-game fishermen and families alike. With a true center console footprint, it offers the added benefit of Pursuit’s Sport line of amenities. A stout helm, rugged hardtop, large cabin space and tremendous seating choices means more comfort for more passengers.

Regulator 31

Regulator makes classic deep-V center consoles designed by renowned Naval architect Lou Codega for offshore fishing. Regulators are North Carolina bred and born, tested against the challenging conditions of the Outer Banks. Their line of sportfishing boats from 23’ to 41’ is designed and engineered for the most discriminating anglers in the world.

The new Regulator 3is equipped with twin 300 Yamaha engines, a massive cockpit, oversized tackle center and fishbox, plus every feature needed for a day of serious sportfishing. Taking a cue from the prized Regulator 41, the 3also features a starboard dive door, integrated forward seat backrests, and other amenities designed to maximize comfort offshore.

Robalo R302

Always a strong brand in the Northeast, Robalo continues to invest in new product development. Robalo’s new R30center console delivers a dry ride and several best-in-class features such as two oversized livewells, plus Yamaha performance and power. It’s built on a Kevlar-reinforced hull with a 10-year limited hull warranty and 5-year component warranty. For the fishing family, the 200 ES and 22ES center consoles provide the features needed to be a serious fishing machines with the amenities to keep the family happy, including ample padded seating from front to back and a privacy compartment with head.

Sailfish 236CC

The new Sailfish 236CC combines the 30-year Sailfish legacy with the latest innovations in center console design. With its sleek, dynamic profile and 6th generation VDS hull, the Sailfish 236CC is functional, comfortable and perfect for offshore and inshore fishing and family fun. With an 8’ 6” beam, it is easily trailerable, and an integrated hard top frame gives you more deck space. Each Sailfish is built with a Kevlar reinforced hull, carbon fiber prisma beam supports in the deck, aluminum backing plates, chrome coated stainless steel hardware, top quality marine grade vinyl upholstery and high definition gel coats, all of which contribute to Sailfish’s reputation for durability and high resale values.

Scout Boats builds sportfishing, fish ‘n ski, walkaround, flats, and bay boat models ranging from 17’ to 42’. Since its founding over 2years ago, Scout’s goal has been to manufacture the best-built boats in its distinctive niches. The recently debuted Scout 23XS Bay Boat is Scout’s second XS model. It has all the characteristics of a serious bay boat, as well as a high-performance stepped hull, proud bow, and aggressive lines. The bow area offers a large, unencumbered casting platform and ample storage below. The rear casting platform houses a flush-mounted fold-up/down rear deck seat.

Sea Fox

Sea Fox Boat Company is South Carolina owned and operated with more than 50 years of boatbuilding experience. Sea Fox offers a full line of fishing boats including center consoles, walkarounds, bay boats and dual consoles. The Sea Fox 32Commander is the newest member in the Sea Fox Commander series. Equipped with twin Yamaha F300s or F350s, it is unbelievably fast and agile, yet solid with its huge 10’ 8” beam and a wide Carolina flare at its bow. It is the perfect blue-water choice for the serious offshore angler as well as the boating-enthusiast family.

Sea Hunt

Sea Hunt incorporates a progressive V in the bottom of their boats. The 15- to 21-degree deadrise is more stable when at rest, and when throttled up, a Sea Hunt will come on plane quickly, without excess bow rise. The Carolina flare keeps the boat dry. The Sea Hunt Gamefish 30, like the rest of the Gamefish series, delivers exactly what serious fishermen demand in a center console. It comes ready to fish with standard features like three livewells, a 60-gallon fishbox, and a 117-gallon coffin box. It comes standard with a side-entry door, and the cockpit is designed to have abundant room for 360 degrees of fishing.

Sea Pro

Originally founded in 1987, Sea Pro Boats was purchased by Brunswick Corporation in 200Recently, one of the original owners of Sea Pro, along with Tidewater Boats’ founder, relaunched the company as “The Next Wave,” an all-new line of bay boats and center console offshore fishing boats. The all-new Sea Pro 21Deep V Center Console delivers the same fantastic value and standard features that drove the success of the 23Deep V Center Console. Popular features include the 52-inch folding transom seat and reclining bow backrest.

Southport 3FE

Southport Boats was launched by a team of seasoned boatbuilders whose goal was to build a boat that would maximize the performance and power of modern outboard engines. The design uses the heavy weight of four-strokes as an advantage in order to allow more beam and deeper Vs than comparable competitive models. This combination results in a dry, stable platform with a sharp entry and ultra-smooth ride.

The Southport 3FE has range, speed, and all the creature comforts for the family, making it perfect for serious fishing missions to the offshore grounds, or laid-back cruises with the kids. Features include in-deck fish boxes, an entertainment center with sink and grill, and a plush aft fold-down seat. The Southport 3is now available with triple outboard power.


Sportsman Boats manufactures an intelligently designed series of center console, dual console, and bay boats with deep forward entries that provide soft and dry rides. Sportsman’s flagship Heritage series center consoles offer intelligent offshore fishing features with yacht-caliber components. The open series, which includes the Sportsman 23Open center console, is designed for the more serious angler, but lacks nothing for family outings.


Striper boats are purpose-built with features designed for big-water fishing, like larger livewells, larger fuel tanks, deeper freeboards, and wider beams. They are 100-percent wood-free, with composite transoms that will not fail and, like the entire hull, are warrantied for life. The Striper 270 Walkaround is Striper’s largest, and it’s all new. It delivers maximum cockpit and headroom along with generous storage space. With a full 9-foot beam and the capacity to hold 190 gallons of gas, it can take you well offshore and bring you back. For saltwater angling or Great Lakes fishing, it’s a 27-foot workhorse.

Stur-Dee Amesbury Dory 16

Stur-Dee Boats is a family-run shop in Tiverton, Rhode Island, where mother/daughter team Heidi and Mackenzie Reid continue the tradition of their father/grandfather, Ernie Gavin. All boats are produced in-house from hand-laid fiberglass in the molds Ernie made from his original wooden boat, and completed with furniture-quality mahogany and oak for the seats and gunnels.

The Stur-Dee Boat Amesbury Dory 1is truly an inshore-fishing platform with an offshore pedigree. Its incredibly deep hull design and high-sweeping bow give it the ability to manage rough seas. At the same time, when matched with a four-stroke 20 or 2horsepower engine, it is also an incredibly efficient boat for inshore and back-bay fishing. Because of its flat-bottom design, an Amesbury Dory glides up to speed and requires very little horsepower or fuel to make her go. Customizations can be ordered right from the company.


Tidewater boats have an impressive look, with a Carolina flare in the bow, clean lines, and an even more impressive price range. Their solid feel, dry ride and spacious cockpit will give any captain the confidence he needs to take this offshore machine into the battle-tested Northeast waters where only the strong prevail. The Tidewater 230 CC Adventure is designed to be the little brother of the popular Tidewater 230 CC and is available with most of the same features. The 8’ 10” beam and large Carolina flare help make this 23-foot boat feel like a larger offshore fishing machine. It’s fast, responsive and a pleasure to drive.


Yellowfin’s philosophy is to offer serious fishermen the best fishing boats money can buy by using high-quality materials and the best construction methods regardless of cost. The Yellowfin 3Offshore is a premier large center console built for ultimate performance in conditions that keep most other fishermen at the dock. Designed for triple or quad outboard power, hard-core anglers will appreciate the extra-wide beam of 11’6”, which allows the 3to offer a spacious and well-designed platform. In addition, it features a standup head and shower and a surprising level of comfort.

The chainset comprise the crank arms, bottom bracket axle and front chainrings. For modern mountain biking the majority of chainsets feature either a single front chainring or a double (two chainrings).

There is a vast range of chainring sizes to choose from, with the size being dictated by how many teeth the ring comprises. In simple terms, the more teeth equates to harder gearing but more speed, whilst smaller chainring sizes will provide easier gearing for better climbing prowess.

Opting for a double chainset will provide a greater spread of gears to encompass both ends of the spectrum; a smaller inner chainring for climbing and a larger outer for higher speeds and descending.

Single ring chains are proving very popular right now.

Often the style of bike will dictate the most suitable chainring size.

Longer travel, burlier bikes intended for trail centre black routes or more aggressive riding terrain tend to have smaller chainrings, such as 2or 30 tooth chainrings. This is to provide easier gearing to suit the more slow speed, sit down and spin style of climbing that riders tend to adopt.

Shorter travel or more cross country oriented bikes can get away with larger chainring, 3or 3tooth being more frequent options. Again, these styles of bikes tend to be more efficient climbers and can cope with faster, more aggressive or out of the saddle climbing.

Crank arm lengths

The crank arms themselves can also vary in length, although the most common length is still 175mm.

As our technological and biomechanical understanding has increased crank arm length can be determined by rider measurements and intended use of the bike.

Longer (175mm+) cranks offer a better mechanical advantage but are harder to turn and so are better suited to taller riders and for more XC oriented bikes.

Shorter (16or 170mm cranks) are easier to pedal, better for riders with shorter legs and also reduce the likelihood of rock strikes.


The majority of mountain bike gear shifter are of the under-bar, trigger style (although SRAM do still produce a twist-grip that rotates around the bar). These trigger shifters normally use two levers that can be either pushed or pulled to change to an easier or harder gear.

Shimano shifters have a thumb pushed trigger to change to an easier gear (downshift). Behind which a secondary lever can be either pulled with the index finger or pushed with the thumb to return to a harder gear (upshift).

SRAM utilise gear shifters that incorporate two thumb pushed triggers in a similar orientation. Both Shimano and SRAM allow multiple downshifts dependent on how far you push the forward trigger.

Box is another manufacturer that uses a unique single trigger shifter. Downshifts are produced in the same way as other styles, however upshifts are provided by depressing the trigger end inwards toward the shifter body.


Modern mountain bike derailleurs have developed very strong springs to aid chain retention and minimise chain bounce.

Whilst Shimano still produces front derailleurs for all of its groupsets, SRAM only now produces front derailleurs for its most basic groups.


Number of cogs and cog sizes are the most important factors for a cassette. Situated at the rear wheel, the cassette (asometimes known as the block) is responsible for the fine-tuning gear changes that make up the majority of everyday gear shifts.

SRAM has the drop on Shimano with its 1speed Eagle groupsets. These have the widest gear range of any cassette, going from the smallest, tooth cog to the massive 50 tooth cog. These wide ratio cassettes are ideally suited for groupsets running a single front chainring.

SLX brakes

For example, XTR gets the lightest configuration with generous helpings of carbon and titanium, plus a smaller twin piston calliper to show its intended XC racing use.

Saint on the other hand, is built with a larger, more powerful four piston calliper and features a more robust build to match its intended dirt jump and DH use.

SRAM, despite producing their own brakes, tend to label them dependent on the intended use of the brake, i.e. XC, trail or DH rather than by groupset name.


As prices increase so too does the level of of construction and material tolerances that the components are built to. This is evident in the quality of the gear shift.

The shifting from higher tier groupsets is often smoother, more immediate and more precise. This allows them to perform better even under load (when climbing, for example). Whereas a low tier shifting performance might seem more clunky, unreliable or delayed.

As you go further up the ranges shifting performance tends to be quite consistent, due in part to the level of shared component technologies.

Weight is another aspect that changes as prices rise. At the lower end expect more components to be made from basic materials such as pressed steel or to feature less intensive machining and manufacturing processes. Higher tier groupsets tend to be lighter, often using more exotic materials such as carbon fibre or titanium.


All Shimano groupsets are designated with a well recognized name that remains the same no matter the model year. Shimano also include a numerical code to easily identify chronologically different versions.

Shimano also like to give the rider a huge range of component options by keeping the front derailleur alive. Giving both double and (some) triple chainsets as options throughout the range means that Shimano can offer a wider gear range for those riders wanting to tackle bigger challenges.

Talking about chainsets, Shimano only produce a single, 24mm diameter axle option on all of its chainsets. Different bottom bracket styles are required to be able to fit to a specific frame.

Electric shifting

Another unique area for Shimano is the availability of electronic shifting as options for its XTR and XT groupsets. These Digroupsets lose the cable operated derailleurs and shifters and instead rely on battery run derailleurs and simple button-like shifters.

The upside of this electronic shifting is incredible reliability with none of the degradation of shift quality that can occur when cables become stretched or contaminated.

Shimano XT

The use of slightly heavier and less refined materials and construction techniques enables this price drop. XT offers some of the best reliability of shifting and has a slightly heavier gear shift characteristic that a lot of riders prefer (compared to the very light XTR shift).

Shimano SLX

SLX takes its design cues from XT. It keeps the main features of XTR and XT such as a Shadow+ rear derailleur (the stronger clutch style derailleur essential for running a 1x drivetrain), RapidFire Plus shifters (allowing multiple shifts) and the 1x chainset shares the same Hollowtech shaping and Dynamic Chain Engagement chainring as the more premium groupsets.

Shimano Deore

Xhas been a staple SRAM groupset for a while now. The key difference between it and higher tier groupsets is the use of an aluminium chains rather than carbon. It still has the same X-Horizon rear derailleur design and X-Sync chainring profile as well as other similar performance features.


NX opens up 1speed and 1x shifting to a wide audience, being both reliable enough to put on mid range bikes but also by being great value. It might not have the exotic materials of higher groupsets, or the most refined finish but SRAM has still endowed NX with excellent performance.


SRAM can also boast an E-bike specific groupset. This EXgroupset has a unique, heavy duty, speed cassette, chain and shifter designed to work with the increased forces e-Bikes can put through the drivetrain. You can expect to see some or all of these components on a lot of current e-bikes.

What to Look For

Seams.  Make sure the suit you buy has good, uniform seams that are nice and flat against the skin.  Having seams with any edges or points will result in chafing, and a seam that is not uniform is more likely to come undone, reducing the life of the wetsuit.  Once a wetsuit seam begins to let go, it is very difficult to repair.  The best wetsuits on the market have reinforced seams, and a type of seam tape covering the seam to add durability.  The seams are often the first thing to go on the cheaper, imported wetsuits that sometimes flood the market.

Zipper.  The zipper is a crucial piece of the wetsuit, and one that you should inspect closely before buying.  Look for two things:  First, closely examine the construction and make sure the stitching around the zipper is very strong, seamless, and smooth.  Second, look at the zipper itself, and make sure it moves freely up and down with a nice, heavy, high-quality zipper.  Remember, you will be yanking on this zipper with lots of force as you exit the water on race day.  You want the zipper to do its job while you are swimming, and then be able to take some force when you need to quickly remove the suit.

What not to look for:  Design and color.  Nobody cares what you look for in the water, and in most races your goal is to take it off as quickly as possible once you are done.  Fit, build quality, and features are way more important than the color or design on your wetsuit.  Besides, most wetsuits on the market today are black, or variations on black.

Saw Blade Essentials

An essential part of every table saw is the blade. There are numerous types of blades and they are classified based on their diameter, the type of material they cut, the type of material they are made of, teeth count, and other features as well. All these divisions, and more, are explained in this article.

Blade Adjustment

Another thing to consider when buying a table saw is which way the arbor of the saw tilts, and with it, the blade of the saw. While there aren’t any crucial differences between left-tilting and right-tilting saws, I still addressed this issue, as it seems to create a lot confusion.

The Mandolin—A Brief History

Descendants of the lute family, today’s various mandolin types are mostly outgrowths of the Neapolitan mandolin, developed in Naples during the 18th century. Today’s bowl-back mandolins most closely resemble those early Italian instruments, and are popular with folk and classical musicians. In the mid 19th century, the mandolin fell out of favor, and its considerable repertoire of music was largely forgotten.

A resurgence of the mandolin’s popularity in the early 20th century led to the development of the various modern mandolin shapes and designs we know today. Much of this development happened in the U.S., when American luthiers began making flat-back and arched-top mandolins. Two pivotal figures were responsible for creating the modern mandolins we associate with bluegrass, country, blues, and jug-band music: Orville Gibson, and his acoustic engineer, Lloyd Loar. It was this pair who were responsible for the Florentine or F-style, and pear-shaped A-style mandolins that we know today. Most current acoustic mandolin models have a lineage that traces directly back to these instruments built by Gibson.

Later, musicians would continue to expand the mandolin’s reach into other music forms. Notably, country performer Jethro Burns demonstrated the mandolin’s versatility, tackling jazz and Western swing tunes. Today, players like Chris Thile, David Grisman, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, Sam Bush, and U. Srinivas continue to push the boundaries with their excursions into pop, rock, and even Indian Carnatic music.

Mandolin Construction Methods and Woods

Far and away, spruce is the wood of choice in constructing mandolin tops, also called soundboards. Its dense grain provides the same bright and articulate response in mandolins that it produces in other stringed instruments such as guitars and violins. Spruce is unsurpassed in transmitting every nuance of the musician’s technique on the strings. Due to the scarcity and cost of high-quality spruce, some makers instead use cedar or mahogany that produce a somewhat deeper tone.

The best quality mandolins have soundboards hand-carved from solid pieces of spruce. Though many have arched tops, there are models with flat tops that are preferred by some players. Both types may have beautifully figured wood that adds to the instrument’s aesthetics—and cost. Book-matched tops are made from two pieces of wood whose grain lines are positioned so as to form an open book-like appearance where the two glued-together pieces meet.

Lower-cost mandolins often have laminate tops—several layers of wood pressed together. Laminates may have a thin veneer of attractively grained wood on top. Laminate tops are pressed into shape rather than being carved—a much less costly method that helps keep the mandolin’s price down. While solid spruce-topped mandolins are preferred by professional mandolinists, laminate-top mandolins are capable of producing very acceptable sound, and can be a good choice for the new player whose budget is tight.

Moderately priced mandolins may have a solid spruce top and a body made of laminated wood—a construction compromise that results in good tone while keeping the price tag down.

As with their cousin, the violin, better-quality mandolin bodies—composed of the sides (sometimes called the rims) and back—are usually made of solid maple. Koa, mahogany and other hardwoods are also sometimes used.

The fretboards of mandolins are usually made with rosewood or ebony—both very hard woods with a smooth surface that enables fast-fingered fretting. Necks are usually made with maple or mahogany for maximum rigidity. The neck is often made of two or more pieces of wood that are glued together. (Unlike tops, laminated necks are considered a plus.) Grain lines in the wood are often opposed to prevent warping or twisting. Most mandolin necks contain an embedded metal truss rod that allows neck adjustments to improve the instrument’s intonation and playability.

Unlike the bridge on many guitars, the mandolin bridge is not fastened to the top, instead being held in place by the strings. It is often made of either ebony or rosewood. As we’ll see below, electric mandolins may have a bridge that contains an electronic pickup that allows amplification of the mandolin.

The finishes used to protect the mandolin’s wood can subtly affect the sound of the instrument while also enhancing its look. Many F-style mandolins have finishes that resemble those used on violins. Thin nitrocellulose lacquer finishes are considered by many mandolin aficionados to offer the most transparent sound. That said, there are many other finishes used on mandolins including varnishes, stains, and polishes that aim to bring out the beauty of the woods without affecting the tonal quality or volume of the mandolin.

Electric Mandolins

Starting in the late 1920s, electric mandolins began making an appearance in the U.S. With their ability to be heard alongside much louder instruments in band settings, and the mobility they afforded onstage performers, their popularity has continued to grow. Gibson and Vega both introduced electric mandolin models in the 1930s. Later developments included 4- and 5-string models.

Though electric mandolins are usually played and tuned like their standard acoustic brethren, their body types can vary considerably. How they’re electrified also varies, some being equipped with pickups similar to those used on electric guitars, while others are essentially acoustic instruments with a pickup that transmits the mandolin’s output to an amplifier or sound system. We’ll look at the most common types here.

The budget-friendly Dean Tennessee Acoustic-Electric Mandolin makes it easy to plug in and play.

Acoustic-electric mandolins: These models typically resemble traditional acoustic mandolins, but incorporate a bridge-mounted piezo-electric pickup that converts the vibrations of the strings to electrical impulses. These electrical signals are routed through a preamplifier usually mounted on the top rim of the mandolin. The preamp increases the signal strength and sends it via a cable to an external amplifier or sound system. The preamp usually includes volume and tone controls, and may also include a built-in electronic tuner. Many performers prefer acoustic-electrics as an alternative to using a microphone in performance, since using a mic can cause feedback and keeps the player planted in one spot onstage.

Electrifying a Standard Acoustic Mandolin

There are a range of aftermarket pickups that can be used to electrify a standard acoustic mandolin. Most use a piezo-electric pickup element that is embedded in a bridge designed to replace the acoustic mandolin’s original bridge. Some designs require the use of a preamp. There are also magnetic pickups available that are designed to be used with small stringed instruments such as violins and mandolins. Installing any of these electronic options is likely to require the services of a professional.

Mandolin Tuning

Standard 8-string mandolins have four courses, each with adjacent strings that are usually tuned in unison. This gives the mandolin its distinctive chiming sound. By far the most common tuning is the same scheme used on violins: G-D-A-E. There are other tunings occasionally used in which string pairs are tuned to different pitches to create “cross-tuning.” It’s also possible to tune a mandolin to match some of the intervals found on a guitar, offering a more familiar feel for guitarists.

Mandolin capos

This device clamps on the fretboard allowing you to raise the overall pitch of the mandolin so you can play songs in keys that are higher than those they were written in. This can be especially useful for singers whose vocal range is higher than the song’s usual key. Capos are available to fit the mandolins neck.


Sooner or later you’ll need to change your mandolin’s strings. A fresh set can revive the tone of a mandolin that seems to have lost its luster. Strings are made using various materials, each with their own tonal characteristics. Experimenting with several types can help you find a tone that’s more pleasing and brings out the innate beauty of your mandolin’s sound.

A good-quality tuner will make the process of tuning up your mandolin much easier. Some models have a specific mode for tuning mandolins that makes the process even simpler.

Summing Up

You should now have some good basic information about the kinds of mandolins out there as well as the things to look for in shopping for a mandolin. There is no simple formula in arriving at the best instrument for your needs and budget. Your fingers and ears should be the ultimate judge.

One basic suggestion is to shop for the best instrument that falls within your budget. A poorly made mandolin that’s hard to play and tune is likely to discourage even the most determined student.

Reading professional and online reviews of various mandolin models can be helpful in pinpointing the right instrument. You’ll also find hundreds of user reviews from fellow musicians and mandolin students alike as you peruse our vast collection of mandolins.





How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the construction levels by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your construction levels wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of construction levels



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