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Chalk one up

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Years of being in the woodworking publishing industry combined with years of being a woodworker have given me a good knowledge of tools. Almost.

Like most people who’ve been woodworking for years, I have a good understanding of tools and how they function. After writing about and testing tools for published articles for more than a decade, I even think I can boast that I might know a little more than the average bear about tools.

Before beginning my storage shed project, I needed a tool that I didn’t own: a chalk line. I know I had one years ago – and may even find it when I redesign my shop – but I needed one NOW so I went out and bought one. I also picked up a container of chalk powder to go with it.

It’s been a long time since I bought chalk for a chalk line, and I was surprised to learn that it now comes in a variety of colors. Back in the old days you had only one color, blue; today there’s a veritable rainbow. I thought the red would be nice and visible so I got that.

Took the chalk line out of the package, flipped open the little filler door, and proceeded to dump a good quantity of the chalk in. I was doing this in the kitchen, and of course spilled a good quantity on the counter, too, which I thought was no big deal. The surprise came when I scooped the spillage across the counter into my hand to dump into the sink, leaving a huge red smear across the light-colored counter. Both my hands were also covered with it. No problem, thinks I, and grabbed a damp cloth to wipe it up.

I just learned something new about an old tool. Chalk-line chalk not only comes in colors now, it comes in levels of permanency, and what I unwittingly picked up was the permanent type.

Permanent chalk powder?

Yep. Took another look at the container, and it even says so. It was a half hour getting the red stain off the countertop. My hands still have a red glow this morning. The washcloth I used (which, incidentally, my wife had just bought) is in the trash.

Chalk this up as a learning experience for the tool “expert.”

Till next time,


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