How to Use and Calibrate a Rotary Laser Level

Rotary laser levels play a very important role in construction projects and are used to determine a 360-degree vertical or horizontal beam. You can use this equipment both indoors and outdoors alongside a grade rod and laser detector. So it’s good for projects that involve both building up or even digging down.

Basically, there are three most common types of rotary lasers and each type has its own unique uses or functions.

  • electronically self-leveling rotary lasers which make use of pendulum leveling systems,
  • manually-leveling laser levels which make use of a mounted bubble level,
  • automatic self-leveling rotary laser level type which makes use of gears and electronic means to determine the level.

Rotary Laser Level in the middle of the building

How to Use a Rotary Laser Level

Using a rotary laser level is not nearly as difficult as most people think it is, it simply requires that you pay attention to details for the most part and follow the steps detailed below.

1. Set Up Your Rotary Laser Level

Setting up a rotary laser level is very crucial and is essential to getting accurate results as well. You need to make sure that your rotary laser is correctly calibrated in order to ensure that you would be getting only accurate results. Calibrating the laser level would be explained later in this post. Before setting up your rotary laser level, you should check the manual for the installation process. Rotary lasers may come along with laser detectors called receivers which are mainly used for outdoor leveling. This received is essential for leveling, especially when you are doing it in the daytime.

Based on the rotary laser type, some can be set up on the uneven ground, however, it is advised to set your rotary laser on an elevated level surface if possible. While you could do this using some wooden board, a small table, a sawhorse or a bucket, using a tripod is the best option there is.

Some rotary lasers come along with a tripod while you might have to purchase it separately for others. Therefore, prior to setting up your laser level, you should ensure that you have your tripod on the ground already. However, if you do not have a tripod, alternative means of elevation which have been mentioned already can be used.

2. Self Leveling After Rotary Laser Comes On

The best type of rotary laser to purchase is an automatic one because it does not require you to carry out the calibration of any measurements. Also, it guarantees that you would get a much more accurate result completely error-free rather than having to go ahead to adjust the calibration manually. However, if you intend to go ahead and calibration it by yourself, you have to make sure that you are setting the device to the standard parameters otherwise, you would be getting the wrong values as your measurement result. In order to best apply your rotary laser, it is advised that you check the accompanying manual.

The main purpose of checking the accompanying manual is to check for any special process that might be unique to that particular laser level and would be needed while setting up. While making use of your rotary laser, the receiver that typically accompanies it would notify you that it has made a connection with the laser through a beep. Since you cannot see the laser light in the daytime, then, you would need to listen for this beep.

Similarly, it is essential that you make sure your rotary laser works before starting any serious measurements. This can be done by making use of it within a very close distance.

Engineer put marks with Rotary Laser Level

3. Begin to Take Your Measurements

After setting up your rotary laser, then it is time to start taking your measurements. Set the laser in the direction of the location where you want to carry out your installation or your mark. To ensure that you do not forget the particular areas, mark them out by means of a visible sign and end that you get the exact spots.

Using the laser to determine various points, also referred to as a point of reference, you can be certain that your construction or installation would align perfectly. This would make your work go along very smoothly.

How To Calibrate a Rotary Laser Level

Typically, most laser levels come calibrated already from the manufacturer. However, there a number which does not come calibrated and this might bring up some problems. This is mainly because the calibration of your laser level determines the type of result that you end up getting.

If your calibration is wrong, you might end up getting very wrong results which would definitely affect your construction. Similarly, based on the way you use your laser level, you might need to recalibrate after a while. Especially if your laser levels have fallen down one time too many. There is a high probability that it might be out of line. Therefore the following steps will help to calibrate a laser level:

1. Set Up the Equipment

You should position the tripod carrying the rotary laser level at least 200 feet from the reference point which could be a wall or a pole among other options. Then level the tripod’s head carefully using the tripod’s legs or carpenter level.

Afterward, you should then attach the rotary laser to the tripod firmly by screwing the laser’s base the proper way.

Next, level the rotary laser with the screw. This is typically automatic for certain models which are self-leveling but it required for models that do not automatically level. If the tripod leveling is accurate, the laser would be able to rotate a complete 360-degree distance with only very minimal adjustment.

2. Maneuver the Laser

Depending on the laser model that you are making use of, the laser could be at the side portion of the control panel in some while it is found on the inclined portion of the main casing in a number of others. However, this does not typically have any great implications meaning that you are doing the right thing.

To maneuver the laser level, you would need to so that it is facing a wall or pole that you are using as a reference point in order to get an accurate measurement for calibration.

3. Turn the Laser Level On

The next step would be to turn the laser level on. After turning it on, then take the laser detector with you along to the pole or wall. Immediately you take off the clamps, you would get a signal which would typically come from the laser detector. After getting the signal, the target should then be marked with +X with the aid of the marking notch. You need this mark to be able to recall the used reference point.

drill in the center of laser cross on the wall

4. Repeat at 180°

Make sure that you rotate the laser level at 180°. After ensuring that the laser is within the same level, go ahead and repeat the entire process. Then make a marking using the detector. When you are marking, instead of +X, mark it with -X and check to see if the two marks are the same level. If they are not, you would need to recalibrate, otherwise, you wouldn’t be getting any accurate measurements if you make use of the laser level that way.

From this, you can conclude that the true level would be the center point between +X and -X. For the record, this point shouldn’t be more than ±1/8th inch or ±1/16th inch from the centerpoint of the specified accuracy of the rotary laser level is ±1/8th inch or ±1/16th inch.

5. Rotate at 90°

After the process above, maneuver the laser on the third side at 90° while the aim is still at the pole or target wall. Afterward, check to make sure that the laser is still working at that level. Making use of the detector, make a sign to mark the target and tag it +Y. The distance from the actual mark previously made should correlate with the distance that your laser’s accuracy specifies.

6. Manipulate the Adjuster Knob

Look if the laser does not hit the target even after moving it to different rotation degrees. then you should endeavor to make use of the adjuster knob that is present at the end of the level vial. Check if you are getting your desired result, if not, re-adjust again.


Learning how to calibrate your rotary laser is essential to guarantee that you would have no issues using it at all. Recall that you need to make your device well-calibrated before going ahead to make use of it. Similarly, while using it, ensure that you keep an eye out to make sure that the calibration is intact in order to get the correct results. As the main operation advice, make sure you read the manual that accompanies your rotary laser.

Meter & Tester