Whether you’re hanging wall paper or laying wood floors, a chalk line is one of the most useful carpentry tools available. Sometimes called chalk boxes, these simple gadgets make it easy to create perfectly straight lines in a manner of minutes.
Most chalk lines are filled with blue chalk for general purpose use, but other colors available include red, white, and fluorescent yellow. Red is a good choice for working outside, since the darker pigment will last longer than other chalk colors. White is easy to remove on fragile surfaces. Some carpenters simply prefer the high visibility of fluorescent chalk.
If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be pleased to learn that price is no indication of effectiveness when it comes to purchasing a chalk line. An inexpensive chalk line will work just as well as a top of the line model, although higher priced items do tend to be made from slightly more durable materials and may feature a speed wind mechanism that can be useful if you’re planning to use the tool on a regular basis.
Using a chalk line is a fairly straightforward process. First, measure and mark where you want the line to be. Use the metal tab to pull the string out of the chalk line, holding it tight at both ends. If you don’t have someone to help you with this part, wrap the other end of the line around a small nail. Finally, snap the line by pulling it up from the center about six inches and letting go. You’ll see a straight line on your work surface if you’ve used the tool correctly. If you have unwanted chalk on your work area, blow it away. Wiping the chalk will simply smear the surface.
Unlike other carpentry tools, a chalk line is very low maintenance. If your string starts to fray, simply cut off the unusable portion and reattach the rest of the string to the metal clip. If needed, new string can also be purchased from any hardware store. New string is typically sold with a replacement metal clip for your chalk line.
A chalk line should always be stored in a dry place. If your string gets wet, you’ll need to leave the line unwound until it dries completely. If the inside of the tool gets wet, however, you’ll have to replace the caked chalk with fresh powder.