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    Spirit levels

    Every DIY enthusiast should have a level in their tool kit as they are essential tools for ensuring guidelines are exactly horizontal or vertical.

    Carpenter's level

    This is the most widely used spirit level, which consists of a metal bar with three vials all containing an air bubble. The vial in the centre of the bar and located on its top edge indicates the horizontal level, while the vials towards the end of the bar indicate the vertical level. On some models, one of the vials at the end of the bar can be adjusted to measure specific angles. Spirit levels range in length from 450mm (1ft 6in) to 1800mm (6ft).

    To check the horizontal level of a shelf before fixing it to the wall, hold the shelf against the wall with the level on top of the shelf. Move the shelf until the air bubble in the centre of the bar is exactly between the two marks on the vial. This indicates that the shelf is level and you can mark its position on the wall.

    To check whether a fence post is standing vertically before concreting it into position, hold the level against the side of the post. Once again move the post until the air bubble in the top end of the bar is positioned exactly between the lines marked on the vial. This indicates the post is truly vertical.

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    Pocket level

    A pocket level is a smaller version of the carpenter's level, but it only has two vials. It is used when a carpenter's level is too long and is ideal for getting into tight, awkward spaces. Pocket levels can have one magnetic face so that they can be attached to a cooker hood or a washing machine at the time of installing to check they are level.

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    Post level

    As its name suggests, this type of level is used for ensuring gate and fence posts are positioned correctly. A post level forms a right angle so it can fit on the corner of a post or upright. There are three vials, each of which is located at right angles to the other. It can be strapped onto the post enabling you to use both hands to adjust the post's position.

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    Laser gradient level

    A spirit level with six vials and a built-in battery operated laser. Can be used for setting all kinds of gradients including patios, guttering, drains and roofs.

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