Best laser level for carpenters (Reviews & Buying guide)

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You’re a carpenter, and you want to take your game to a whole new level, do away with the bubble level, and the need for a third hand when mounting to a wall. It’s time that you got yourself the best laser level for carpenters.

I’ll guide you through the best laser levels taking a long list down to just five, five awesome options for you to choose from. I’ll also take you through my buying guide and faq so that your purchase is made as easy as possible.

If you just want to know which I would personally pick? Then look no further than the DW089K; for me, this is the perfect choice. If you work outside, then the DW089CG is going to be your best bet, these are the top of the range, and you won’t be found wanting.

Before we move into the reviews, here are my top choices:

PRODUCTDETAILS
DEWALT Line Laser, Self-Leveling, Cross Line, Red Beam (DW088K)

DEWALT (DW088K) Line Laser, Self-Leveling, Cross Line

  • Accuracy (ft): 1/8-in @ 30ft
  • Visibility (ft): 165 ft
  • Self-Level Range: ±4°
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Bosch GCL100-80C 100ft 12V Cross-Line Laser with Plumb Points and VisiMax Technology, (1) 12V Max Lithium-Ion 2.0 Ah Battery and Battery Charger, RM2 Mount, and Hard Carrying Case

Bosch GCL100-80C 12V Cross-Line Laser with Plumb Points

  • Accuracy (ft): 1/8-in @ 30ft
  • Visibility (ft): 100 ft
  • Self-Level Range: ±4°
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DEWALT Line Laser, Self-Leveling, Red, 3-Beam (DW089K)

DEWALT Line Laser, Self-Leveling, 3-Beam (DW089LG)

  • Accuracy (ft): 1/8-in @ 30ft
  • Visibility (ft): 100 ft
  • Self-Level Range: ±4°
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Johnson Level & Tool 40-0921 Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser Level Kit, Horizontal and Vertical Lasers , Red

Johnson Level & Tool 40-0921

  • Accuracy (ft): 1/4-in @ 35ft
  • Visibility (ft): 100 ft
  • Self-Level Range: ±6°
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PLS180 Red Cross Line Laser Level PLS-60521 by Pacific Laser Systems

PLS180 Red Cross Line Laser Level PLS-60521

  • Accuracy (ft): 1/8-in @ 30ft
  • Visibility (ft): 200 ft
  • Self-Level Range: ±6°
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Klein Tools 93LCLS Laser Level, Cross Line Level with Plumb Spot, Leveler Tool with Magnetic Mounting Clamp, Self-Leveling

Klein Tools 93LCLS Laser Level

  • Accuracy (ft): 3/32-in @ 33ft
  • Visibility (ft): 65 ft
  • Self-Level Range: ±6°
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On Sale - 19% off DEWALT Line Laser, Self-Leveling, Cross Line, Red Beam (DW088K)
 
  • DEWALT laser level is durable and has over molded housing with a 1 meter drop rating
  • Laser level tool has patented integrated magnetic bracket
  • Self leveling laser level is water and debris resistant with an IP54 rating

What I truly love about the DeWalt DW088K cross-line laser level is that it manages to pack all of the features that you would find on the higher cost laser levels into a wonderfully affordable package, and not only that, it comes with a cracking warranty.

This, for me, is one of the best laser levels because it comes with one unquestionable benefit, and that’s it’s value. It has a wide range of features which you would find on more expensive models, but you won’t find these features on another level. Specifically, it’s 165 feet with a laser receiver for less money.

If you are worried about a price/quality trade-off, don’t be, DeWalt covers you with their strong reputation and offers a 3-year limited warranty, so that should help ease your mind.

This laser level uses 3 AA batteries, so keeping a set as a backup shouldn’t be a problem, so there won’t be a worry about battery life, while it’s a shame that we can’t use any of Dewalt’s standard lithium power units (batteries) with the Dewalt DW088k laser level, it will, however, work with any standard AA rechargeable batteries (1.5v).

Its laser diode is a class II diode, emitting less than 1 mW of radiation. This works within the 630 – 680 nm range, which is the visible red range. Your eyes are safe when using a Default DW088K laser, though if you stare directly at it for longer than a quarter of a second, you may suffer permanent damage.

If one of the main reasons you are looking to purchase this laser level is because of its superior range, don’t forget to factor in the cost of a into your budget. Without the receiver, the listed range of the DW088K is only 100 feet, and that’s more for indoor use. Outdoor visibility without a receiver will have a visibility range of around 30 – 50 feet, though that will depend on the conditions of the day. If you want a tool that is comparable and doesn’t have a receiver, then see the Bosch GLL 2-15. There is a slightly improved model, which is the Dewalt DW089K, which includes a level and plumb line laser as well. I’ve got an article on the differences between DW088k vs DW089K.

The DW088k features an over-molded plastic composite case, which is rated at IP54. This is the most affordable laser level, which has an IP rated water and dust resistant enclosure.

You won’t have to worry about dust ingress or worry about water from rain.

While it’s affordable, this is a rugged and durable tool, though sometimes the self-leveling laser can be a bit iffy, easily fixed by turning it on and off again.

The interface for the DW088k is incredibly simple and straightforward. This is an easy to use tool; a single push-button controls the horizontal and vertical lines. The two lasers can be used together, or you can project a single vertical line or horizontal line. Self-leveling is automatic and cannot be disabled. The big feature I found missing was having the ability to lock the position of the self-leveling diode so you can set custom angles. This might be a problem for you, depending on the type of carpentry/joinery that you do.

Pros

  • Self-leveling system up to 4° for quick, easy set-up.
  • A laser detector extends the working range to 165 ft.
  • Integrated magnetic mount base for quick set up and attachment to metal surfaces (scaffolding).
  • Unmatched value, you won’t find another laser level at a comparable price packing the same level of quality and features.
  • 3-year warranty.

Cons

  • The laser lines can be hard to identify in bright direct sunlight. Use a laser receiver and glasses.
  • No option to manual position the mark lines at custom angles

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On Sale - 30% off Bosch GCL100-80C 100ft 12V Cross-Line Laser with Plumb Points and VisiMax Technology, (1) 12V Max Lithium-Ion 2.0 Ah Battery and Battery Charger, RM2 Mount, and Hard Carrying Case
 
  • All-in-one functionality – facilitates one-person job setup with horizontal leveling, vertical alignment and plumb point transfer applications, connected capability
  • Built in VisiMax technology – delivers maximum beam brightness, optimized energy efficiency and long-term tool reliability
  • Bosch leveling remote app – Free to Download and free to use, this app turns the leveling laser on and off, selects the laser operating modes, adjusts line visibility

For as long as I can remember, Bosch has been a leading brand of power tools and their accessories. Bosch aims to bring innovation and valuable solutions, from drills all the way to laser levels and optical leveling devices.

The Bosch GCL100-80C is a level that features plumb points and is a cracking choice. This is an affordable level with excellent features that will take your leveling game to a whole new level without breaking the bank.

The 80c is the red line level variant. If you need a green laser, then you should check out the GCL100-80CG.

Even though this isn’t an expensive model, that doesn’t mean that the accuracy has been compromised. Laser levels tend to have a working range accuracy of 1/8″ at 30 feet, and this is no exception. The cheaper models will usually get around 1/4″ at 30 feet, and Bosch’s top of the line GLL3-300 increases that accuracy to 3/32″.

Do note that the plumb points don’t share the same accuracy rating. These are 9/32″ at 30ft, which isn’t a big issue when you are installing lights and other ceiling-mounted fixtures. Just be aware that if you need super tight tolerance on your plumb points, this might not be the choice for you.

The VisiMax beam is excellent and was perfect for installing some custom shelving. Using the wall mount project brackets meant I was able to install everything level and true. It even worked well for setting posts for a pergola.

You get a lot of options when it comes to mounting this. It has a magnetic mount, a ceiling grid clip, an RM2 mount. The threads are also the standard camera tripod threads, so you can use any tripod that’ll accept a camera.

One of the reasons this works so well for joiners is its smart pendulum system that features a manual lock; when you first turn the laser on, the first stop on the button will keep the pendulum locked so you can dial in an angle, the second stop will turn on its self-level feature which will work up to 4 degrees of accuracy. There’s a button on top to cycle through the various beam options so you can have horizontal and vertical beams, an up and down plumb point, single vertical, single horizontal, or full cross line lasers projecting both vertical and horizontal lines, and finally, everything, both cross-line beams and both plumb spots.

Like the Dewalt DW089K, using laser levels like this with a laser target card will boost its range. Add on a Bosch LR6 or LR8 receiver, turn on its pulse mode, and you can electronically find the beam up to 165 feet away.

This is one of the best laser levels when it comes to how easy to use it is; you can even use this with a smartphone taking the ease of use to a whole new level.

Whether you are using the red laser or green laser variant, this app really takes this up a notch with its self-leveling, manual setting, great battery life, and it’s visibility range. It’s no question as to why this has made it to this list.

It’s a perfect tool for anyone serious about carpentry or joinery. The battery life between the red laser and green laser does vary drastically, but that’s normal.

This isn’t one of those 360-degree laser levels; for that, you need to look for a rotary laser.

Pros

  • Bosch Visimax technology truly improves line visibility while conserving your battery life.
  • The remote app is excellent and makes using this a breeze
  • Highly accurate
  • Multiple mounting options

Cons

  • Unsurprisingly the red laser variant isn’t as bright as a green laser
  • The quality of the case could be improved.

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On Sale - 24% off DEWALT Line Laser, Self-Leveling, Red, 3-Beam (DW089K)
 
  • DEWALT laser level has 3-beam line laser to aid in 90-degree layout
  • Laser level tool has 2 times brighter diode to increase visibility in bright job-site conditions
  • Self leveling laser level features built-in magnetic pivot bracket mounts easily on metal surfaces

Yet another DeWalt, this is the upgraded version of the DW088K, but not only that, this is the green laser diode variant.

This is a second-generation product, which has been designed to fix various issues identified in the earlier models. Once again, this comes with Dewalt’s rock-solid warranty.

The Dewalt DW089LG cross lines laser level is, in my opinion, one of the top of the range line lasers packing some excellent features to ensure you get high-end functionality, which makes it easy to use.

This laser level projects 3 lasers and also support Dewalt’s 12v lithium-ion battery system, which is perhaps one of the reasons why it’s so popular with professional contractors.

The DW089LG has an IP rating of IP65, which means it’s dust-tight and can withstand pressurized water spray.

If this is your first Dewalt tool, I highly suggest investing in an additional battery, as green lasers tend to drain batteries.

This is a laser that projects not only vertical and horizontal but actually projects a 360-degree laser beam. The 360-degree projection is one of the standard features on this laser level, and trust me, it can save you a lot of time transferring level from one surface to another.

For me, this is the single feature that helps justify the cost of this level; this is perfect for carpenters who do cabinetry, general carpentry, framing, and any other jobs that require a visible level across multiple surfaces.

There aren’t any unnecessary buttons or switches, thanks to its incredibly simple user interface, which makes it easy to use.

The housing of the level includes a power level indicator, which is incredibly handy, a manual sliding lock to keep the smart pendulum system locked in position; this means not only can you transport it safely, but also you can lock custom angles, making this perfect for all types of carpentry.

This is my personal top pick if you want the best rotary laser level, which works for all applications, indoors or out, custom angles, and more. Using a laser level like this will mean you won’t want to use another.

It’s diamond cut beam splitter ensures that your point laser is completely accurate. This is one of the best self-leveling lasers on the market, and when switched into pulse mode, can reach great distances.

It includes a magnetic base for easy mounting and comes with more than a 2-year warranty. In fact, you get 3 years.

This level is perfect for full room layouts and is very popular with custom cabinetry carpentry, ceiling installers, commercial framers, and even plumbers and electricians.

If you are serious about getting the best, this is the tool for you.

Pros

  • 360° line coverage, no need to reposition
  • Uses the Dewalt 12-volt lithium-ion battery
  • DeWalt’s 3 year warranty and free servicing for the first year.
  • Best overall choice

Cons

  • The price tag isn’t small; it’s fantastic value but might be out of reach for some DIY enthusiasts.

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On Sale - 22% off Johnson Level & Tool 40-0921 Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser Level Kit, Horizontal and Vertical Lasers , Red
 
  • Projects a self-leveling laser cross on your work surface to easily layout your jobsite
  • EASY-TO-USE ELEVATING TRIPOD: Kit includes a tripod that has a working range from 17" to 47". The laser can be used either with the tripod or independently. For uneven surfaces and inclines, compensate by adjusting the telescoping legs of the tripod.
  • SAFE TRANSPORTATION: The kit includes a durable, hard-shell carrying case so that you can safely and easily transport it to job sites. A locking mechanism holds internal components of the laser level in place and protects the inner pendulum to avoid damage to the internal mechanism during transport.

This self-leveling laser level from Johnson Level & tool is fantastic for anyone looking to layout cabinets, worktops, or any other interior alignments.

This isn’t just a laser level; this is an entire kit; you get not just the level, but a tripod, a carry case, and a set of red glasses. Even though this is a cross line laser, you can project both vertical and horizontal lines together or individually.

It remains accurate to 1/4″ at 35 ft and has a working range of 100 feet. Battery life isn’t a problem as you can switch out its 3 AAA batteries.

An interesting feature that I haven’t seen on some of the best laser levels is that this features a 360 degree graduated base. Which I’ve found incredibly handy in a self-level laser when it comes to working out angle layouts. As mentioned, this isn’t a spirit bubble manual level. This thing self-levels within 6 degrees of accuracy, so while it’s not as good as what I deem to be the best laser level, the DW089CG it’s fairly decent.

If you accidentally knock this out of alignment, it has a nice little indicator on the housing to make sure you don’t take any incorrect measurements. There is an internal locking mechanism for the pendulum to protect it during transport, but also to allow you to set custom angles perfect for carpentry.

While this isn’t a 360-degree laser, you can turn the housing on its graduated base to hit all the walls you need.

The beam has a wavelength of 635 nm, which places it in the red range; it’s classed as an IIIa laser, outputting up to 5mW of power.

Pros

  • A fairly cheap but accurate level
  • A complete tool kit, giving you a tripod & tinted glasses
  • Able to self-level
  • Internal range up to 100 feet
  • Horizontal and vertical beam projection

Cons

  • Not a true 360-degree laser
  • Not best overall but a fantastic option

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The PLS 180 cross line laser has become a very dependable level; this is thanks to its class II laser diode, which sits in the range of 630 to 650 nm. It projects both vertical and horizontal lines.

It has a fantastic accuracy of 1/8th inch up to 30 feet and is completely automatic thanks to its self-level feature, and is able to level within 6 degrees.

This is will do 180 degrees of beam and uses standard AA batteries; you’ll need three of them and will work up to 30 hours of continuous use, so you have no worries about getting the job done.

Also, you get 3 years of warranty, that’s rather epic.

Thanks to the ability to manually fix the diode alignment, you won’t have any problems with carpentry and joinery. It’s also a fantastic option for a plumber. This isn’t an expensive option, so well worth purchasing one just to knock about in your tool kit.

Pros

  • Uses standard AA batteries
  • High accuracy
  • Pairs with a laser detector thanks to its pulse mode
  • 3 years of warranty

Cons

  • The laser beam isn’t very bright, so not work well outdoors
  • not a 360-degree level

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  • Laser Level with self-leveling, easy-to-read horizontal and vertical laser lines with plumb spot lasers to pinpoint overhead locations
  • Level projects horizontal and vertical lines independently or together for various alignments
  • Water and dust resistant (IP54), hard plastic carrying case included

This level from Klein tools is a fantastic budget option; this includes plumb spots, cross lines; it’s a cracking choice.

It features a self-leveling pendulum; this works by utilizing gravity to find level, now it won’t be 100% accurate none of these are, but with this offering from Klein tools, you will get ~3/32″ at 33 feet. That’s plenty accurate, though if you need more, there are better options on this list.

This is a red class II laser which sits in the 630 – 680 nm range.

You can show each beam individually and together. I love this level of control, though it is more and more common these days.

This uses three aa batteries, and Klein makes sure to give you your first set. Klein has also provided you with various mounting options. There’s a neodymium-alloy magnetic which will attach to any ferrous wall or ceiling elements.

You can also put a small fastener into a wall or a stud where you can hang your level. The case also accepts 1/4 and 5/8 inch tripod mounting threads.

This is also IP54 rated, giving you excellent protection against any water or dust ingress, so surviving a jobsite won’t be a concern.

Something I’ve not mentioned with the other levels on this list is drop rating. This level is rated for a drop of 1 meter (3.3 feet). That said, don’t drop it, any drop could damage your pendulum, and there is no coming back from that.

Pros

  • Self-leveling with easy to read lines
  • plump points and the various lines
  • magnetic 360-degree mounting bracket
  • IP54 rated

Cons

  • Not a rotary laser

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Buyers Guide

If you’ve never purchased a laser level before, it can be a daunting task. I know it was for me the first time. What accuracy level do I need? How important is the beam color? And so on. In this guide, I’ll take you through what you need to look at when scrolling through laser levels so that you can assure yourself that you are, in fact, getting the best laser level for your needs. In this section, I’ll make sure you know everything you need to know so you can make an informed decision when you finally pull the trigger and buy your laser level.

Accuracy

Accuracy is an incredibly important metric for any laser level, well for any level, really. The more accurate your level, the more accurate your project will be. As a carpenter, there is some flexibility in that you can make adjustments on the fly, other materials that may not be the case, but ideally, we don’t want to be making adjustments. It costs us time on the worksite.

Asides from the accuracy rating, which will accompany the laser level, you should look at how many different lines, dots, or points of reference it has. This is usually an indicator of how accurate your laser level will be. With more points of reference, the more accurate it will be.

Beam light color

Generally speaking, you have a choice between two colors of laser level. These are either red or green lasers. Your choice of color will come down to where you intend to use it. Green lasers are much better suited for outdoor use. These can handle being in bright sunlight much better than red lasers. On a bright sunny day, you’ll be able to see your green beam, while that won’t be the case for a red beam laser. If you’ll be working indoors or in low light situations, then a red beam laser is your better choice.

Durability

Also known as the Ingress Protection rating (IP), this is a rating scale which is used to describe how well your laser level (and other products) will fair against two different factors, which would have a negative effect on how well your laser level works, these factors being dust and water. An IP rating will look like IP44. The first digit on the scale ranges from 1-7. This digit describes how tightly the device is sealed against dust. The higher the number, to higher the resistance to dust.

The second digit on the rating scale describes how water resistant the laser level will be. This is rated on a scale of 1-9. One being the least resistant to moisture and nice being completely watertight. Depending on where you intend to use your laser level will determine how watertight it will need to be. For example, it’s quite common for outdoor lights to be IP44 rated, which gives an equal rating to water and dust protection, so if you are working outdoors, then you’ll want to match or exceed that rating level if you want your laser level to survive exposure to water and dust.

Range

The range can be a very important figure depending on the type of work you are doing. Even as a carpenter, it can be important. If you are building a large house, having a laser level that can project over large distances will ensure that all the supporting beams are true.

However, if you work in custom cabinetry, perhaps in kitchens, then a short range of distance is perfect.

You’ll find that the range provided by laser levels will vary widely; the more expensive models will have a much larger range than the smaller, cheaper models.

As I’ve mentioned in the example, the best way to determine the amount of range you need in your laser level is to think about your intended use. From there, my best advice would be to get one with a slightly larger range than you think you’ll need.

This way, should a project come up, which requires a large span of distance, you will be set and ready, rather than having buyers regret over the one you bought.

Mounting system

The majority of laser levels can be mounted in a wide variety of different ways. This ensures that your laser level can adapt to fit a wide variety of situations that you will end up finding yourself in at a worksite.

The other day, for example, I needed to be some bracketry in an enclosed space, my laser tripod’s lowest level was too high, so I switched the laser level over to its clamp and clamped it to a surface which was low enough to cast the beam at the exact height I needed.

The type of mounting system you’ll get will vary from model to model, some will utilize magnets, or others like mine will use vice-like grips. Regardless of the laser level you choose, you’ll want to ensure that your level can mount to a wide variety of surfaces such as walls, bars, pipes, struts, and tripods.

Type

There are many different jobs which require a laser level, and because of this, there are different types of level you can choose from.

These include the following types:

Line Laser –A line laser is the most basic form of a laser level. Once it’s been mounted to a tripod or placed on a wall or surface, it will cast out a single level line onto the surface. This makes hanging pictures or other items quick and easy, thanks to the line that’s on the wall, providing an easy to read level.

Dot Laser – Dot lasers project, as the name suggests, a series of dots in a level plane. These dots can then be used as a reference point to hang whatever you need to keep level, or if cast onto a floor/ceiling, they can be used to align lights prior to drilling holes in the ceiling.

Rotary Laser – you will find that a rotary laser to be very similar to a line laser in that they both project out a line. However, the big difference between them is that a rotary laser level will case out a line onto every wall within a given room, and the self-leveling cross-line laser levels will also do the floors and ceilings.

This makes them much more expensive, but they are amazing for general construction work, such as concrete work for foundations, grading, etc. They are also perfect for ensuring that lights, for example, are placed onto walls at the same level. For example, I put two uplights on a far wall and two on the opposite wall. Thanks to my rotary cross line laser level, I was able to ensure with ease that the lights were perfectly level with each other on both walls.

Self-Leveling

My first laser level wasn’t self-leveling. Having owned a self-leveling laser level, I can tell you that this is by far one of the greatest features that your laser level will have to offer. To bring a non-self leveling level or bubble level into level, you’ll need to manually alter the level, which, believe it or not, is actually rather difficult, as the pendulum swings and wobbles.

With a self-leveling version, you simply set it in the location you want the level line, and hey presto, it will automatically give you a perfectly straight light to follow, add to that that most laser levels can be attached to a wall or anything really when they are in use, means that you’ll have a hands free leveling experience.

FAQs

What is a laser level?

A laser level is very much like your bubble/water level; the main difference is, instead of holding the “level” up to the surface/object you want to level out, a laser level will cast out a beam onto the object/surface.

This gives you a wide range of flexibility; on the surface you are working with, you can project-wide distances, much wider than a bubble level, and it’s hands-free. I can’t comment on the number of times that I’ve needed a third hand to hold the level whilst driving a screw into a wall.

How do laser levels work?

A laser level uses a laser diode. These can be a red laser diode or a green laser diode, plus a range of mirrors to cast a laser beam onto a surface.

Some laser levels are self-leveling laser level. Others require a manual approach using bubble or spirit levels.

How to use a laser level to hang pictures?

I have a fantastic article on all you need to know about how to use a laser level to hang pictures but to summarise:

Decide where you want to hang your pictures.

Take your laser level and point it where you want to set your first photo frame.

If this is a dot or cross-line level, move it to the next location and mark that spot with chalk. If it’s a line laser, then you’ll need to use a tape measure to get the distance correct, then mark the spot again with chalk. This is the same process you would use if you were looking to place chair rails into specific locations.

Once you’ve marked all the locations on the laser line in chalk, using a hammer, drive the nails into the marked locations.

Hang your pictures on the nails.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, I’ve managed to help you find the perfect laser level for your carpentry. I’ve offered a range of the best laser levels on the market across a wide range of budgets. Of these best laser levels, my choice would be the DW089CG. It ticks all of my personal needs.

Make sure to take some time and assess what you want from your level. Do you want something that eats 3 aa batteries, or do you want something that will use a battery pack? Do you need a green beam laser?

The one feature I suggest above all else is the ability to lock the angle. This can be vital for carpentry.

If you have any questions, please leave a reply in the comments section below.

Last update on 2021-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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