Carpentry/Hand Tools/Marking Tools

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Pencils[edit]

There are various grades of pencils. In a range of soft 8B to very hard 9H.

  • Dark, heavy lines are drawn with High "B" numbered pencils.
  • Fine, light lines are drawn with High "H" numbered pencils.
  • F and HB are in the middle range.
  • General usage is HB, F or 2H in carpentry.

Chalk Line[edit]

Chalk line tools are used to mark straight lines, generally over long distances. A chalk line may also be referred to as a "chalk box", as this is also descriptive of the hand tools!

Description[edit]

Most chalk line tools consist of a string, usually with a hook on one end, that is wound around a spindle that is inside a box or container that contains powdered chalk of various colors. Colors of chalk that are generally available, but not limited to, are blue (most common), red, yellow and orange.

Use[edit]

To use a chalk line, the free end of the string (usually with a hook) is pulled from the box. The free end is then either hooked onto an object, such as the edge of a board or a nail, or is held by an assistant. The container end of the chalk line is then taken to the other end of the object to be marked. Both ends of the string are then placed over pre-measured marks and pulled taut. The string is pulled away from the object to be marked and released, transferring a chalk line from the string to the object. This may be repeated several times to mark additional lines before the string must be returned to the box to have additional chalk applied to it. Note that care must be taken when snapping lines - if the stringline is pulled away in a direction not perpendicular to the face of the object, the snapped line will curve. Also, snapping across a hump or dip may cause distortions in the desired line. Snapping lines in wet weather can be problematic. In the worst conditions you can replace the cotton line with twisted nylon of the same dimension and then use concrete dye (powder) instead of chalk, adding water to the box,mixing and draining excess. Then flick excess dye from string before snapping and quickly lifting the line from the surface. Puddles should be swept away before using this method.

Scratch Awl[edit]

Description[edit]

A scratch awl is basically a strong metal pointer with a handle.

Use[edit]

A scratch awl is used for marking on materials which do not readily take pencil or chalk marks. A line is scratched into the material with the awl.

Another common use is to make a small indentation in wood, etc. into which a nail or screw is placed, or a drill bit aligned prior to predrilling a properly aimed hole for the nail or screw. To make the biggest indentation in the least time:

  1. push awl-point straight down against the surface
  2. wiggle it to and fro in one direction
  3. wiggle it rotary-wise
  4. repeat the last two steps in sequence a time or two as needed.

With wired-cardboard crafts[edit]

When boxes are to be repaired or signs or other structures built by wiring together sections of cardboard, one may use the awl to create holes at the right positions on fitting pieces of cardboard prior to placing them together, or match the pieces together first and while holding or clamping them tightly together, make the first holes (often two) just prior to inserting and twist-tying wires to a desired secure tightness.

Solid core telephone wire[edit]

The type of wire most easily used is the kind found in telephone cables since World War II, with a solid copper wire inside any of ten colors of plastic sheathing which brings the outer diameter to about 1-mm. This wire, sometimes in cables of 50 or 100, may be found discarded in dumpsters when business buildings are demolished, or intercepted on the way to a "recycler" (they only trash the plastic and melt down the copper for recasting at the cost of energy; an effort should be made to save this fine crafts resource, placing reuse ahead of "recycling").

Multi-awl[edit]

This tool is made by wirebraiding a big 2" safety pin, by its foothole, to the handle of a regular awl. Use this pin to make holes in tough cardboard, large enough to admit one telephone wire, or to start holes which are then easily widened by the regular awl point, usually wide enough to admit four telephone wires or one conduit-size wire (3-mm.).

Liquid marker[edit]

This is usually the easiest tool for marking pieces of carpentry wood and other varied materials. The Sanford Sharpie and its million Asiatic imitators have a point of about the right sharpness for marking where cuts will be made, a support bar placed, etc. Where many holes are due to be drilled, one may carefully mark all the locations first with a Sharpie, then dig pilot pits with an awl, then drill all the holes.

Additional Information[edit]

Wikipedia Woodworking Measuring and Marking Tools - more information on marking tools.