By Corey Majeau | Published on
Wondering if you should use a chalk line to help you with your project? You’ve come to the right place! Whether you are planning on renovating a space or working on installing walls, concrete, even a roof, using chalk lines can help you immensely in the planning steps.
Never worry about trying to find a straight line or angle again with the help of something as simple as chalk. Chalk outlines help you made accurate and precise layouts. So that when it is time to install there will be no errors anywhere as you’ve already constructed a sort of blueprint made of chalk.
What is a chalk line?
A chalk line is a great way you can evaluate distances and draw out a blueprint for your construction plans without having to remeasure or go back to adjust lines to become straighter. Basically, a chalk line will outline whatever your project is, so that when you need to look at it from a distance or from a building point of view, you can see exactly how it will look before you begin construction.
This is a sort of draft process for all kinds of projects that will help you make the project as error free as possible. With construction projects, if you mess up on a line, the whole project needs to be demolished. To save time, money, and effort, planning out your project beforehand use chalk.
Top 3 picks
Editor’s Choice: TAJIMA Chalk Box
For jam free snap lines, the Tajima Chalk box will give you extra bold 1 milometer chalk lines with a five-gear quick retrieval. The chalk outlines are a result from braided nylon lines that will give you clear, clean and accurate lines with a hyper precise layout.
Most Versatile: IRWIN STRAIT-LINE Chalk Line
For a classic design and clean look, the Irwin straight line chalk line features a classic reel with blue line fill so you can see your lines boldly and brightly. This mechanism is highly versatile as you can use it in a number of job sties that require bold lines. This also comes with a wide door for easy chalk refilling, so you won’t have to take too much time filling it up again.
Best Bang for your Buck: STANLEY Chalk Line Box Set
What comes in an easy-to-use set that won’t break the bank? The Stanley Chalk Line box set, of course! This set comes with a reel case of vivid blue lines so you can easily see your lines no matter what kind of project background you are using. This set is highly cost-effective and will get any job done, so it’s not only affordable but it’s also great for beginners, too.
The Best Chalk Line Tools
We’ve compiled a list of the best chalk line tools you can find online today. All of these products come in with high reviews and have been used for all types of different job sites and specifications.
Best Chalk Line for Heavy Use
Coming in with an extra bold snap line, the Tajima Chalk Box is a great tool for multipurpose use, but also won’t break the bank in cost. This product comes with a 1.0 mm braided nylon line that produces clean and clear lines for precise layout results.
It comes with a fast line retrieval with a fast wind system that will get you saving plenty of time even in a super busy jobsite. A rubberized ABS case means this tool is a high capacity and lightweight tool that comes with an elastomer grip for added durability.
Who should buy this?
Anyone who tends to work on a busier job site and has more continuous use needs will love this Tajima tool.
- Made of ABS Plastic
- Rubberized Case
- Extra bold snap lines
- May be too lightweight for some
Best Portable Chalk Line
Thinking of purchasing a chalk line box set? The Stanley chalk line box set is the full set for you! This set comes with the chalk line tool and blue marking chalk with a leveler. So you have all your basic needs met. You can start a job right away with this setup. The reel case of this tool is made of durable ABS plastic for impact resistance while the chalk line tool includes an on-board hook storage. A stainless-steel hook is included for rust resistance and a sliding door for easy refilling. The folding crank to this tool folds conveniently back into the case.
Who should buy this?
Perfect for the person on the go. This chalk line tool set is ideal for anyone who needs a chalk line tool for occasional jobs.
- Comes in a set
- Case made of ABS plastic
- Impact resistant
- Folding reel crank
- Not great for continuous use
Best Chalk Line for Long-Term Use
Coming in at a whopping 110-foot capacity, the Keson Little Giant Chalk Line Reel can’t be beat. It’s so cost effective yet high capacity so you can easily use this tool for a myriad of jobs in different job sites. This tool gives you 10 percent more string than similar boxes which means very few replacements.
The large handle to this tool gives you more grip options even when wearing heavy work gloves. It can hold nearly a pound of chalk, so you don’t have to worry about consistent refills. Best yet, it comes with cotton polychord. Which means it will hold chalk better than most lines you can find.
Who should buy this?
This tool is great for anyone who works consistently with chalk tool lines. And needs a high-capacity machine that doesn’t have to be refilled often.
- High-capacity line
- Large handle
- Comes with cotton polychord
- Doesn’t need as many refills
- On the pricier side
Most Versatile Chalk Line
If you are looking for a chalk line tool with a reversible tip, the CE Tools Snapback chalk line tool is the tool to go with. A releasable tip means that this will save you half the steps. So you don’t have to walk back for your tip. It is a highly durable tool with a high impact housing and stainless steel hook with precise cutting.
This is a quick retrieval tool with planetary gears and a stainless steel belt chip with high strength precision nylon chord. The body casing is ergonomically designed with over molded rubber so you can grip it in your hand with ease.
Who should buy this?
If you’re looking for a tool with a reversible tip, this is the tool to go with. It’s great for anyone who uses a chalk line tool often.
- Releasable tip
- Quick retrieval
- Convenient to use
- Really heavy
Best Chalk Line for Small Jobs
A speed line chalk reel, this Irwin chalk reel tool comes with a wide door for fast and easy refills. It comes with 100 feet of abrasion-resistant polyline and will get you 5-6 strikes for every pull. The gear ratio of 3:1 means that it will give you a faster reel than more standard chalk reels. And a heavy-duty steel handle with an ergonomic clutch means increased durability and strength. This tool is made from highly durable ABS plastic so it can work on multiple job sites.
Who should buy this?
This tool would be ideal for the person who doesn’t need to use a chalk line tool very often. But still expects precision and durability.
- Wide door for refills
- Fast gear ratio
- Ergonomic design
- Extremely lightweight
How to Use a Chalk Line
Even if you are not very familiar with chalk lines, once you use one, you’ll realize just how versatile they are and just how easy it is to use. With these helpful steps, you will be well on your way to creating better, more reliable projects without any fuss of having to tear down and start over.
First off, you are going to have to ask yourself what exactly you plan to use your chalk lines for. Do you need this tool just to help you along some occasional jobs or are you going to use it on a consistent basis?
The reason this matters so much is that there are a range of tools from easy to use for every once and a while, to larger, more expensive tools that are more of an investment for a business or side job. If you just need your tool for a few small jobs as needed, there’s no need to go in for the pricier, more refined tool.
There are plenty of great tools that will get the job done, it just depends on how refined a tool you need and on what basis.
To use your chalk line tool, you can use it manually with your hands or with a straightedge tool. Essentially, you are going to use your chalk line tool to create really straight lines. So, you can either do that manually or with the help of a straight-edged tool. A laser measuring tool can also help, but chalk lines are simple and easy, and definitely affordable.
Most chalk lines come with a leveler so you can see for yourself how even your line is. It’s kind of like a measuring tape, in the sense that a line is extended out and you have control as to which direction the line goes and how deeply it will mark.
You can use chalk lines to lay down perfectly straight lines by using the weight of the twine as a reel or a simple plumb line. This will mark the area in white or blue, or any other color you choose, so you can vividly see your line and lay down plans accordingly.
Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Chalk Line
- Plan out your area where you want your lines and decide if you are going to connect points or draw your own outline.
- Laying your chalk line in front of you, extend the line to an exact point and lay flat.
- Make sure your line is where you want before you stamp it down so that the color will transfer from the line to the floor or flat surface that you are trying to mark.
- Reel in your line and see if your chalk line is where you want it.
- If you line isn’t in the right spot, you can rub it away and try it again.
Are All Chalk Line Tools the Same?
- What’s it being used for?
- Crank mechanism
- Line material
- Chalk fill hole and closure
While chalk line tools are similar, they are going to differ depending on the type of job you need them for and how often you plan to use them. To get a better idea, here are some of the main factors to consider before purchasing a chalk line tool.
What’s it being used for?
An important factor to consider is what exactly your chalk line tool will be used for. Kind of like the intention of use we went over toward the beginning of this article. You need to ask yourself if it’s worth the pricier investment of a more expensive machine or if you can get away with using a tool on the cheaper side to get a side project done here and there. Once you determine this, you will have a general price range you can play around with to find the best tool for you.
While some chalk lines will crank back into the machine automatically, there are also manual cranks that will require some more effort and time to use. This is another factor that comes into play with the price range – as most expensive chalk lines tool will automatically reverse into the machine and the cheaper ones will require a manual crank mechanism. A metal crank is the best way to go if you are looking for a manual crank, as these cranks will produce a much smoother cranking process and won’t crack like some plastics can.
Gears are found inside chalk line tools to help rewind the chalk line after use. There are differently sized gears that will work the input and output of the line, with these gears differentiating from each tool. The higher your gear ratio is, the longer your line can be and the smoother your rewind will be. This should be kept into consideration if you are planning on using your tool often and don’t want it to get stuck or gum up after time.
So, what exactly are the lines made up of? Typically chalk lines are made out of cotton, as this will hold chalk on to the line much better than nylon or polyester. Nylon and polyester are stronger and still do the job, but you may not get a bold stamp as you would with cotton lines.
The tool casing should be either aluminum, stainless steel, or ABS plastic to prevent any rust and corrosion over time. Most lines come in at 100 feet, but you can also find chalk line tools at 50 feet if you don’t need super long lines.
Chalk fill hole and closure
It’s important to have a fill box that doesn’t spill. Your tool should have a built-in sliding door with a top that is easy to remove, or easy to unscrew, so that you don’t come across any leaks from your chalk refill at any point in the job.
You’re going to want to make sure that your chalk refill area is large enough to get to and avoid any messy refill spills. You will also want to make sure that your sliding door properly seals back up, so no chalk comes out of the sides or through the fill hole.
Chalk line tools can essentially mark in any kind of color you prefer. While the standard is black and blue, you can choose a color that will stand out and is easy for you to see while using it for a job. Fluorescent colors such as yellow and orange are commonly used within construction sites as these colors stand out vividly against a number of materials. You can also find longer lasting colors if you need to set up a job site with lines for an extended period of time. Black or red are your best options for a more permanent color setup.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Does chalk line come off?
It depends on the material. If you use chalk line on concrete or another slick surface, it should come off with warm water and a towel. But if you are using chalk line on a more porous surface, such as brick or walls, it will be harder to get off.
Which chalk line is permanent?
Red. Red chalk line is a permanent color that will not wash away in the rain or with a hose. So it won’t be removed after it is applied. If your line will be visible after construction, consider using another color for the job.
What’s the difference between red and blue chalk line?
Permanence and visibility. While red chalk is going to be more permanent, it may be harder to see depending on the job. Blue chalk is not permanent and is easier to see on most surfaces.
The Verdict on Chalk Lines
There you have it! So much great information on chalk line tools and a rundown of which chalk line tools are the best. We would suggest using the Keson model for your next project. It is durable enough to be used for multiple jobs. Yet easy enough to use in case you are a beginner.
Were you able to find what you were looking for? We hope this article has been useful. Have a question or comment? Feel free to comment or share in the section below. Be sure to check out our website for some more home product ideas. Like this guide to tools for every handy man!