How to Use a Chalk Line
Dec 23, 2020
When you hear the term “chalk line,” it can refer to either the tool or the line that the tool creates. A chalk line tool is made of a body (also called a chalk box) that contains colored, powdered chalk and a long reel of string. You pull the string out, snap it against a surface to mark a line, and wind it back up.
A chalk line is a handy tool to mark a straight line when you do not have a ruler handy and for marking a line over a long distance of 30 to 40 feet and beyond. It’s not going to give you a perfectly straight line so it is not a substitute for a straight edge when you need an exact measurement, but it’s great for when almost-straight will do.
How to use a chalk line
A key point to remember when using a chalk line is that the person who walks is the person who pops. That means if you are the one walking the tool to the other end of the distance you are measuring, you are the one who pops the line over the surface. Your helper on the other end is only there to secure the other end of the line in place. Since you might be measuring a great length beyond shouting distance, it’s important to know this code.
Get a complete tutorial on how to use a chalk line like a pro from builder and craftsman Jordan Smith in MT Copeland’s Hand Tools online course.
Hand the pull tab end of the line to a helper and walk to the other end of your measurement. If you don’t have a helper, the pull tab will hook onto the end of the surface so that you can tightly stretch the string, or you can use a nail and anchor the tab over the nail head to hold it in place.
Pull the string tight over the surface you are measuring.
Pull up on the string as close to perpendicular to the surface as possible and let it snap back down to pop the line.