Laser Measuring for Trim

      Are laser measuring devices accurate enough for trim work? Most installers say yes. November 19, 2006

In the spirit of previous threads of "Production Style Trim Installation" and "Old Dog, New Tricks", I'm working on identifying my bottlenecks and speeding the trim process up. I am curious if any trimmers are using laser tools to shoot distances for running trim. I'm not referring to $30 sonic devices with a laser pointer, but rather the $300 -$800 toys.

* Leica DISTO™ plus / A5 / A3
* Hilti PD 28 / PD 30 / PD 32
* Stabila LE-100
* Trimble Spectra HD150
* CST/Stanley 77-930 TLM300 Tru-Laser Measurer

I read an informative review in the April '04 issue of Journal of Light Construction. I could see some value in these, but I would like to hear from people that use them. Are they accurate enough to shoot and cut off the display? Are they durable enough for daily use and also portable enough to not feel like a brick added to my pouch?

I don't want a fancy (and expensive) tape measure, I have plenty of other toys I could plop down $500 for. But if I could use it for quotes and in the field day-to-day, you guys might be able to help me talk myself into it.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor E:
I don't do trim, but I do measure kitchens for quoting for cabinets. I have a Leica Disto. It is a bit bulky, but it is also accurate and reliable. I would not be without it now.

From contributor R:
I also use the Disto for site measuring, but also for cut measuring. I'm installing a large custom closet and have used the Disto to measure inside measurements that are not possible using a tape and it has been extremely accurate.

From contributor H:
I use the Hilti and like its small size. Measuring closets and cabinet spaces is fast and accurate. When I’m in the shop I use it to measure inside cabinet dimensions for drawer sizes. Clients are always impressed by the technology and usually ask me to give them square foot measurements for their flooring or wall paper. It is also useful for finding places in ceiling for chandeliers over a table and also adds an air of professionalism to any client/designer meetings.

From contributor J:
I use the Hilti and it is a great tool. It rounds to the nearest 1/32" which is more that accurate enough for running coped mouldings. I work alone so it makes measuring long runs crown very easy and very fast.

From Gary Katz, forum technical advisor:
I use the Stabila, frequently. I stopped using a 100" stick a long time ago. It's great for base and chair and crown and casing on wide openings, etc. It's a little bit big but accurate.

From contributor D:
I have been using the Disto for about 4 years to measure closets, and I believe that it would work great for trim. They are very accurate, and it takes a little getting used to. For closets I would roll the old tape into the corner and visually round down to the nearest 1/4" and things would fit perfect. With the laser it took a while to realize that it was so exact that things were fitting too tight. I now have mine set to automatically deduct 1/8" from every measurement.

From the original questioner:
I went to Home Depot and they had the Hilti PD30 on display. (No one knew how to use it, so they let me open a new one and flip through the manual.) I was surprised how small it is - slightly larger than a pack of smokes. It felt solid, and accurate. It had batteries, so I walked around shooting measurements and comparing it to my Stanley 25' and it was dead on. The display rounds to 1/16", but I can live with that. I see my measuring for estimates and material takeoff's going twice as fast.

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