How to Use a Chalk Line

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Carpenters and roofers chalk several lines throughout their busy workday. Whether you have a basic chalk line or a geared box to rewind the string faster, they all basically work the same way to produce a quick and easy straight line for your project. Following are steps and tips to achieve positive results when using your chalk line.

  • Decide which color of chalk to use. Blue is for general purpose use. Red is for more permanent jobs that need to last out in the weather for a few days. White is a good choice for interior walls since it comes off easily. There is also florescent chalk that is easier to see on certain surfaces.

  • Fill the chalk reel with chalk. Open the side door on your chalk line. Pull out about 12 inches of your line and insert the tip of the chalk bottle into the side door. Fill about half full and close your side door.

  • Pull out a large portion of the string and wind it back up 6 to 8 times to help coat the string before the first use.

  • Place the hook at the end of your first mark, using a nail or hooking it to the end of a board. It is faster if another person can hold the end on the mark.

  • Place the reel end on the string on the other mark.

  • Make sure the string is tight. Hold it up about 12 inches and let go. The string should then snap back to the surface and make a chalk line between the two marks.

  • Wind up your string when you have finished.

Tips & Warnings

  • Blow to remove unwanted chalk. Wiping only smears the chalk.
  • Don't wet your string. This causes the chalk to cake inside the reel and on the string.

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