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With measuring tool brands changing hands like mad in the last few years, you’ve never had more options to buy laser measuring gear. But let’s say you want something less bright-colored plastic and more aircraft aluminum — something less Tonka toy and more James Bond-beautiful. And let’s also say you’ve got $5k to spend on a laser level. Consider the Cornerstone, pictured above.

From the website:

“Machined from 7075 aircraft aluminum, 360 brass and 440c surgical stainless steel; projecting three athermalized laser reference planes through patent-pending, diamond-turned aspheric optics, and powered by rechargeable Li-ion cells. […] Imagine a compact tool that generates a highly accurate and complete level plane, like a rotator but with no moving parts. Got it? Now imagine another plane of light that runs across the floor, left to right, up the wall to your right, across the ceiling right to left, and down the wall on your left. And finally, imagine another plane of laser light simultaneously running along the floor in front of you to the wall ahead, up the wall, along the ceiling to the wall behind you and down the wall. A complete and portable plumb-level-square reference system.”

And as you can see from the photo above, it’s every bit as pretty as the prose on the site. Wrap all that machined metal up in a ceramic hardcoat, add some hardwood grips (with optional hand-checkering for you gun grip fanatics) and you’ve got a dead sexy piece of measuring gear.

$5,000 scores you the “basic kit,” which includes the Cornerstone, a carry case, a tripod adapter, targets, a wall wart, a charger adapter, a LensPen to clean the lens, and a laminated instruction card. Bonus: You get a CD — whether this is more instructional material or some soothing jazz to improve the work environment, we’re not sure — a calibration certificate, a calibration tune-up reminder card, and a “personal guarantee certificate from the technician who built your Cornerstone.” Throw down another $500 and Origin will toss in an Leica ROD-EYE mini laser detector, a pair of filter glasses, and a spare battery — the “contractor kit.”

Like any luxury purchase, you get options as well, including a choice of grips (teak, rosewood, walnut, figured maple, purple heart mahogany, figured bubinga, or most any other hardwood you can dream up), case (Pelican or dovetailed maple), 635nm red laser or 532nm green (add an additional $1k for the green option, though), and personal engraving.

Honestly, I’m not quite sure how to feel about this. Yeah, it’s pretty entertaining reading an option list that sounds more at home for a Rolls Royce than a tool. On the other hand, it’s kinda heartwarming knowing that there’s a small company out there making a living producing luxury tools. You’re not gonna buy one of these to simplify a low-buck home tile project. But is it really any more far out to spend extra $$ on this than on a luxury car? Or yacht?

(Seriously, you’ll have to answer that. I don’t have extra $$ for either. Dammit.)

The Cornerstone Classic [Origin Laser Tools]


7 Responses to Tool Pr0n: The Cornerstone Classic

  1. Mike says:

    Seems like an odd device to me. Anyone with the cash to buy this would probably not be doing the type of work a laser level is used for. Maybe double checking that the new vault has enough space in it for all the cash….or something Bond could break out to calculate if an explosion is going to implode the submarine or not.

    Sure is pretty though.

  2. Ben says:

    yea seriously i would love to know who buys the and actually uses it for work and not just tool pron.

  3. Gary says:

    I think it falls into the same category as $12,000 smooth planes. They’re beautifully designed, built and work flawlessly. But are they 60 times better than a Lee Valley smooth plane? Or 240 times better than a vintage Stanley nbr 4?


    If I had billions, I might buy a $12,000 plane for use. Maybe.

    But I think most of them are bought by collectors. I’m ok with that. But I’d still like to hold one in my hands once. Maybe take off a shaving or two with it.

    Tool pron is right.

    Oh, and from what I can see in the pic above, the wooden grips need work.

  4. fred says:

    Don’t know if you or toolsnob posted this first – but when I saw it on their site – I clicked on the link. Wow – reading about the company and its principal says something about inventiveness – but also seems to me to say something about how hope springs eternal – and how vanity may trump common sense. I wish Origin Laser Tools well – but hope that their business model does not require selling many units to break even. The only measuring tool that I’m likely to lay out this sort of money for is a new Electronic Total Station

  5. Dreamcatcher says:

    What, no auto leveling system?

    I see it’s useful for installing switch plates though.

    The wood “grips” are just plain cheesy, leather may have been a better choice of material… or just some textured metal.

    It looks like these are just some crafty dudes with lots of time and money on their hands – enough to be playing around with CNC, aluminum, and laser technology. Not that I’m against that. God knows if I had spare time and extra $$$ I’d probably do something similar.


  6. Fong says:

    You guys all beat me to my rant on why someone who can afford this would ever be in the position to use it.

    That aside…

    “Surgical Stainless steel”? Really? Not sure why that’s a selling point. It’s not exactly an exotic material. It’s also not 440c. I’ve not designed surgical implements but a quick google search shows they’re normally made from 316L for corrosion resistence and sterilization.

    Having bought movie prop swords, I know 440c is used almost exlusively for high quality prop blades due to their high chromium content. Shiny!

    This tells me their target demographic is wealthy, narcssistic and not technically inclined. I’m jealous I don’t have anything to sell to this demographic. Sounds like a gold mine!

  7. Tim Litvin says:

    Each of you posted some interesting points, thanks for your feedback: I look forward to reading more. Being the guy who designed this outrageously expensive tool, I’m the first to admit that this particular incarnation is not for everybody. We’re a tiny company trying to get a start, and doing our best to make a product in America. Ironically it’s a LOT more expensive to make a cheap product, due to the upfront investment required for “tooling”, e.g., injection molds and casting dies. By using CNC machined components, we are able to launch a product with our own meager financial resources. Sorry about the price on this one, really: it’s a very expensive tool to make in low volumes, and there’s not a lot of mark-up.
    Fong- You’re right that 316L is the stainless most common in surgical equipment; 440c is used in surgical/cutlery/bearing applications when corrosion resistance AND hardening is required… which is why it was chosen here over 316L. You’re also probably right that our customers for this introductory product will be relatively affluent, but if you ever get your hands on one of these tools, I’d bet dollars to donuts that you’d appreciate the no-holds-barred technical excellence of the design execution.
    DC- you want leather grips?: hey, we’ll do leather grips.
    I genuinely appreciate your critiques. Please feel welcome to write me directly at Origin Laser Tools.

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