Torpedo level: What is it and Why do You Need One?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  August 31, 2022
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The torpedo level is a smaller version of a spirit level that’s designed and made compact for easy use, portability, and convenience. You can use it in tight spaces and it compares to large level contractors.

These tools are 5.5 to 10.3 inches long, but there are longer ones. Most of the 2 vials measure 0 and 90 degrees, ensuring that you get the exact readings both horizontally and vertically.

There are also levels that feature 3 or 4 vials to enhance performance. Technically, the 30 and 45-degree vials give you extended flexibility.

What is a torpedo level

Do you need a torpedo level?

First, ask yourself: do you want a picture on your wall hanging in a lopsided position? If not, then yes, you do need a torpedo level (best ones reviewed here)!

To make it more simple, a torpedo level is like a fire extinguisher; you don’t really know you need it until you do. For carpenters, electricians, and plumbers, it’s a necessary tool.

Torpedo levels have several uses. You can use it to put up a shelf for your books or a picture of your family on the wall. If you want flat-pack furniture, it’s necessary to have this tool too.

Despite this, contractors need larger spirit levels for regular use. But torpedo levels come in handy in tight spaces. Plus, they aren’t too expensive either.

How to use a torpedo level

Before getting started, you need to clean the level and remove all dirt from the edges.

Choose your surface and place the level on the object. The spirit tube must run parallel to it.

You’ll see the bubble floating to the top of the spirit tube. Focus at the level of the spirit tube.

Observe where the bubble is. If it’s in the center between the lines on the tube, then the object is level.

If the bubble is on the right side of the lines, the object is slanted downward from right to left. If the bubble is on the left side of the lines, the object is slanted downward from left to right.

In order to find the true vertical value, just repeat the same process, but vertically.


Place the torpedo level on a flat and roughly level surface. Look at the bubble inside the tube and note down the readings. This reading only shows to what extent the surface is parallel to the horizontal plane; the accuracy is yet unknown.

Do a 180-degree rotation and repeat the same procedure. If the readings in both are the same, then your level has high accuracy. If not, then it’s not so accurate.

Spirit levels vs torpedo levels

A spirit level indicates whether a surface is horizontal (level) or vertical (plumb). It consists of a sealed glass tube filled with liquid containing an air bubble that indicates the level by its position.

Carpenters, stonemasons, bricklayers, other building tradespeople, surveyors, millwrights, and metalworkers use different types of spirit levels.

A torpedo level is a spirit level designed for use in tight spaces, so it’s small in size. It consists of 2 or 3 vials filled with ethanol. Some feature glow-in-the-dark visibility.

The torpedo level also indicates the level by the position of the bubble.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.