Best Chalk Line on the Market – Chalk Box and Reel Kits for Jobsites, Home Construction and DIY Projects

A chalk line or chalk box is a basic tool that every professional and non-professional should have in their toolkits. This tool allows you to mark long, straight lines across large, flat surfaces when a straightedge or your steady hand isn’t feasible. It’s also one of those tools that you don’t even realize you need until you really need it! To prep your toolbox for your next big project, we’ve taken the time to research various chalk lines and chalk line brands on the market, featuring one product from each one. All you have to do is read, select, click your mouse three times, and wait for your brand-new tool to arrive!

To make things simple for you, we also included a bit of information about other options within each review just in case our favorite picks don’t meet your needs. We do want to note that because we could only choose 5, there are two other highly rated brands that didn’t make our list. If our choices are not right for you, consider Irwin Strait-Line chalk reels and Stanley chalk line reel kits (such as the Fatmax Xtreme)
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Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Material
Capacity
Line Length
Size
Gear Ratio
Our Top Choice
Tajima Chalk-Rite Jam Free Chalk Line Reel
Tajima Tool Corporation is focused on delivering tools designed with excellence. Their careful quality checks ensure you get a great working tool that’s also low in price.
Holds 3.5 ounces of chalk; has a wide neck for easy refill; 5-gear fast wind; 100 foot line. Choice of red or black box and chalk.
Works best with micro chalk.
Elastomer/ABS frame
3.5 ounces
100 feet
2.75x4.75x10 inches; 7.2 ounces
5:1
Best Value
DEWALT DWHT47257L Compact Chalk Reel Kit
Dewalt was founded in 1924 when it began selling the very first electric woodworking machine called the WonderWorker.
3:1 gear ratio; clutch design for fast rewinds; includes 4-ounce bottle of blue chalk; includes metal hook for steel/concrete projects
Does not come with any instructions for use
Plastic
2-4 ounces
30 feet
8.1x6x2 inches; 8.8 ounces
3:1
Keson G110 Little Giant Chalk Line Reel
Keson is a company founded on the principle that a job is worth doing only if it’s done right. This principle is reflected in the brand’s tools, which are proudly made in the USA.
Cotton polycord line for better chalk lines; has a wide handle; extra-wide mouth for easy refill
Some users may not like its irregular shape
ABS frame
12 ounces
110 feet
2.9x5.7x12.6 inches; 15 ounces
1:1
Shinwa Neo Manual Crank Thin Chalk Line
Shinwa Measuring Tools is the North American distributor for Shinwa Rules Corporation and is focused on providing the most accurate measuring tools to people around the world.
Thinnest line available; felt blocks ensure cleanest, most visible line; hook for steel and concrete; auto-retracts line up to 26 feet
Line may be off if the pin isn’t set at a perfect 90 degree angle
Clear plastic
Fill reel halfway
50 feet
6x3x2 inches; 4.2 ounces
1:1
Milwaukee Tool Bold Chalk Line Kit
For nearly 95 years, Milwaukee Tools has been providing well-made tools designed to help customers save time on all their projects.
100-foot, abrasion resistant line; quick rewind; claw hook; comes with blue chalk; clear, straight lines
Bulky size may not fit well on typical tool belts
Elastomer
3 ounces
100 feet
5.3x3.35x2.3 inches; 6.32 ounces
6:1

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What Is the Best Chalk Line Reel on the Market? Read Our Chalk Line Reviews!

To choose the best chalk box, it’s good practice to decide what you’ll be using it for most. A one-time project? Every day at work? Across multiple construction sites? Or is it just something you want to have on hand for later? Once you’ve determined what you need it for, you’re that much closer to choosing the perfect one!

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Our Top Choice
The Tajima Chalk-Rite is the workman's pal. With a patent-pending design that prevents jamming, a 100-foot, top-quality 1mm line, a 5-gear fast-wind, and a host of other great features, you’ll get your job done right the first time! Need a thinner line? The Chalk-Rite II Snap-Line makes an ultra thin 0.5mm chalk line.

Tajima Chalk Box - Chalk-Rite Jam Free Snap-Line with Extra Bold 1mm Chalk Line, Five Gear Quick Retrieval


Features

TJM Design Corporation is the largest manufacturer of hand tools in Japan, and has been producing wow-worthy products since 1909. With over 100 years of experience in crafting quality tools, and with such success in the Japanese market, it’s no surprise that TJM Design sought to expand its line into North America. Tajima Tool Corporation, TJM Design’s subsidiary, was established in 2002 for exactly that purpose. So many people already know how great Tajima’s tools are, which is why they’re the choice brand of contractors, interior designers and serious DIYers everywhere!

The Tajima Chalk-Rite Chalk Line will become your best work friend! It features a patent-pending design that prevents jamming, which reduces your frustration and downtime when you’re on the job. You’ll also love that this chalk line has 100 feet of braided 1mm line, and that it has a 5-gear fast wind for silky smooth rewinding. There’s so much to love here, we’ve compiled our favorite features for your perusal:

  • Can hold 3.5 ounces of chalk, so you don’t have to stop and refill as frequently
  • Case is translucent and made of elastomer—fancy rubber—for no-slip grip
  • Line-lock hold
  • Automatic release during rewind
  • Foldable crank
  • Wide neck makes refilling chalk easy
  • Includes tool for easy line replacement
Best Value
Dewalt’s Compact Chalk Reel Kit is perfect as a secondary or correction reel because of its small size, belt clip, and short, 30-foot braided line. Need something with a longer line? Try Dewalt’s Heavy Duty Chalk Reel Kit with 100-foot line.

Dewalt Compact Chalk Reel Kit with 4 Oz Container of Blue Chalk - Foldable Manual Crank, Sturdy Plastic Construction for Jobsite,


Features

In 1922, Raymond Dewalt, the founder of Dewalt, created the first woodworking machine. Two years later, Dewalt founded his company, and their first ever product was an electric woodworking machine (the “WonderWorker”). Now, nearly a century later, Dewalt has become an internationally recognized brand with customers from all walks of life. Whether you’re an avid DIYer, a construction or woodworker, or you just love tools, Dewalt is a name that won’t disappoint.

The Compact Chalk Reel Kit by Dewalt is a small reel that can be used as a correction or secondary reel. It has a 30-foot braided line, and its 3:1 gear ratio and clutch design give you fast, no-nonsense rewinds. The belt clip on the reel means you can conveniently store it on your toolbelt or even in your pocket. No longer will you have to pause in your project to find where you set your chalk reel!

It also features a sharp metal hook for concrete and steel projects, and its plastic housing is more rugged and durable than it looks. Because Dewalt knows you want to get started right away, the kit comes with a 4-ounce bottle of blue chalk. Once your reel arrives at your door, you’ll be ready to work!

The Keson Little Giant Chalkbox will become your new go-to line for those long projects. It can hold up to 12 ounces of chalk, and it has a hook for affixing it to your work belt. If you’re looking for something larger, go for the 130' G130 Giant or the even larger Keson 3X1 Rewind 150' Chalk Line Reel.

Keson Giant 110 Pro Chalkbox – 110-Foot String Chalk Line, 12-Ounce Chalk Capacity, Steel Crank Handle


Features

Keson is a family-owned and operated company that was founded by Roy Nosek. His belief in doing jobs right, staying positive, working hard, respecting others, acting ethically and doing good extended into this business’s practices. Keson’s desire to “be the world’s most trusted source of measuring and marking products” has created a company that doesn’t take short cuts when it comes to manufacturing or customer service. For work that’s fueled by your passion, Keson is ready to arm you with the best tools, and chalk lines, available!

The Keson Little Giant Chalk Line Reel is ready to become your go-to line for those all-day-long jobsites. It can hold up to 12 ounces of chalk, so you don’t have to worry about refilling it or running out while you’re in the middle of a project. The ABS housing is bright orange for easily spotting it, but it also features a hook for convenient placement on your tool belt. We also really loved…

  • Mouth is wide for easy chalk refills
  • Cotton polycord line that holds the chalk better
  • The large handle on it can accommodate big, or gloved, hands
  • Line is 110-feet and it only 1/8-inch thick
  • Made in the USA
Shinwa’s Manual Crank Chalk Line features an ultra-thin, 0.020-inch line that’s 50 feet long. The line is pushed through felt blocks, which coats the entire string in chalk. Looking for a model with an automatic rewind? We suggest the Shinwa Chalk Line Auto Rewind Neo with Super Fine line!

Shinwa Neo Chalk Reel with Foldable Manual Crank - Super Fine Line (0.020" thick), 50 Foot Line, Felt Block for Even Chalk Distribution


Features

Shinwa Measuring Tools was founded in 2006 and is the North American distributor for Shinwa Rules Corporation, which has its headquarters in Niigata, Japan. Both companies focus on providing rulers, squares and other measuring tools to help people get the most accurate measurements the first time around. Globally, Shinwa has become a well-known name and has provided over 30 different countries with reliable measuring tools.

The Shinwa Chalk Line is a manual crank chalk line that features a 0.020-inch thick line, making it one of the thinnest lines available. Unlike other chalk lines, this one pushes the line through felt blocks to ensure the string is entirely coated with chalk. This helps reduce waste by giving you a highly visible, super straight line the first time around. We also really liked…

  • Line is 50 feet long
  • Unique design—translucent body lets you see its inner-workings
  • Manual rewind crank folds into the unit so it doesn’t get broken off
  • Hinged door makes refilling chalk and line replacement easy
  • Includes hook for marking steel or concrete
The Milwaukee Bold Line Reel Kit is a chalk line built with a planetary gear system and StripGuard clutch. These two features work together to create a reel that has the most durable gears on the market. This kit comes with blue chalk, but Milwaukee also offers other colors such as red and black. Another favorite is the Milwaukee Inkzall Jobsite Marker. This tip not only writes on dusty, oily or rusty surfaces, but it's also optimized for OSB, cinderblock and concrete.

Milwaukee Tool 48-22-3982 Chalk Line Reel Kit - 100 Ft. Bold Line Chalk Reel and Refill, StripGuard Clutch


Features

Since its inception in 1924, Milwaukee Tools has become an internationally recognized brand through its consistent production of well-made tools, which are designed to help you save time on your next projects. This company’s focus is on customers who work in tool-heavy industries, like construction and design. By concentrating on consumers who use tools every day, the brand is able to get feedback on the durability of their products, how well made they are, and what can be done differently to make these products more efficient.

Milwaukee’s 48-22-3982 Bold Line Reel Kit is a top-quality chalk line built for sustained performance. The line’s planetary gear system, which is often used in power tools, is meant for long-lasting use. Its StripGuard clutch, an exclusive feature of this line, works with the planetary system to ensure your gears are durable and won’t wear out with use, even if you’re using it every day. Because Milwaukee Tools understands that conditions at every job site are different, this chalk line includes a thick braided line that’s abrasive-resistant, which means straighter and clearer lines every time you need them.

Best Chalk Line Reel Kit Guide – What to Look for When Shopping for a Chalk Box or Chalk Reel

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a 183-foot tall structure in Pisa, Italy, that draws millions of people from around the globe every year. You’re probably thinking, “Uh, yeah, everyone knows the Leaning Tower of Pisa!” What you may not know is that the tower once leaned at a frightening 5.5-degree angle, but after receiving a bit of a facelift, the tower now only leans at a slightly less frightening 3.9-degree angle.

Everyone can take away two important life lessons from the history of this tower’s construction. Aside from some serious procrastination taking place during the project—it took 199 years to complete—the tower was built on a small, unstable foundation that began to erode once the second floor was completed. Construction was halted, the soil eventually settled, and construction resumed with everything still tilted (no reason to start over!).

What are the life lessons? Don’t take 200 years to complete your next project, and don’t start a project without all the proper tools and engineering in place to ensure it goes smoothly. Pisa might make a hefty profit off all those Leaning-Tower-tourist dollars, but it’s unlikely that any mistakes in your next construction project will somehow eventually end up with the same outcome (one can dream, though).

Pipe dreams aside, good craftsmen always strap on their toolbelts and make sure they’re achieving symmetry in their projects (unless those projects are government funded), and we know you’re a good craftsman who’s ready to pump up their tool box or tool bag with all the right tools for any job!

Or maybe you just need a chalk line because you already know how important symmetry is. And since now you know more than you probably ever wanted to know about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, why not see what other bits of knowledge you can pick up about chalk lines—like their price, features, and how they’re made?

 

Video: How to Use a Chalk Line

How to Mark Straight and Level Lines Using a Chalk Line. | Courtesy of DIY Doctor
Price

Chalk boxes are pretty inexpensive tools that can be bought for as low as $8. If you want extras, like a chalk line plus chalk, you’ll pay around $15. And if you want a grand-daddy chalk line, prepare to shell out up to $30 (and then enjoy all the envious looks your awesome chalk box will get at work).

Ultimately, the price you decide to pay will likely be based on a number of decisions, like whether you need the chalk line every day or for just a few DIY projects. The length of line you need will also factor in to the overall price (a 30-foot line chalk box will cost less than a 110-foot line chalk box, for example) as will the line’s thickness.

You can also find cheap chalk lines that are less than $8, and for one-time projects, they might do. But because chalk boxes tend to be inexpensive anyway, it’s better to pay a few more dollars up front so you don’t have to replace a poor-quality chalk line later. Since this type of tool definitely falls into the “don’t need it until you need it” category, it’s much more convenient to open your toolbox to find a working chalk line than one that’s unusable because it sat for so long (string degrades. Gears rust in humid places. You know how it goes!).

Features

Luckily, chalk box features are pretty straight forward, and once you know what types of things to look out for as you shop around for a chalk line, you’ll start to get a better idea of what it is you ultimately need for your project.

The most important features to look for are…

  • Material:Most are composed of ABS, which is thick plastic, and elastomer, a rubber covering that fits over the plastic to better protect it. Mercifully, the gears are almost always made of metal.
  • Chalk capacity:How much chalk can a chalk box hold? Not to be confused with wood chucks.
  • Line length:This is probably the most important feature because you can only create a chalk line as long as the line will go. If you have a piece of wood that’s 50 feet, but a 30-foot chalk line, you will cry (or just exchange it for a longer one).
  • Line width:Some lines are thick, some are super thin. This feature will ultimately depend on how thick and noticeable you need the line to be.
  • Metal Hook:A lot of the hooks are different, so be sure to look closely at them. Some have sharpened, but flat, edges that dig right in, and others have sharp, pointy edges perfect for accidentally poking yourself.
  • Gear ratio:This is just a fancy way of talking about how quickly and smoothly the line will unwind and rewind. The higher the ratio (3:1, 5:1, 6:1 etc…), the smoother/quicker winding and unwinding will be.

Now let’s talk about design…

Construction and Design

Chalk lines are small tools, but they do come in ‘giant’ sizes and ‘compact’ sizes. Typically, the smaller the chalk line, the shorter the line and the smaller the overall chalk capacity. But the opposite isn’t necessarily true—a large chalk line may only have a 100-foot line, but it has a big handle on it so that a gloved hand can still grasp it securely.

The gear ratio is something else you’ll want to pay attention to. Previously, we said that the higher the gear ratio, the quicker and smoother the line will unwind and rewind. If you’re using a manual crank, the gear ratio may not matter as much. But if you’re going for one that’s automatic, a higher gear ratio will make things much simpler (don’t have to worry about jams or a line that’s very slowly rewinding).

Since gears are almost always made of metal, try to avoid storing your chalk box in a humid area. Over time—probably years—the humidity will cause the gears to rust. If you really aren’t using your chalk line that much, you should consider storing it inside your house to protect the metal interior.

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Fun DIY Projects to Upgrade Your Home. | Courtesy of Homedit
Performance and Ease of Use

Chalk capacity ranges a good bit between chalk lines, but generally, the larger the actual chalk box, the more chalk it’ll be able to hold. For some reason, not every manufacturer likes to list how much chalk their chalk box can hold, but for a normal sized tool, the amount is usually between 2-5 ounces. Bigger ones can hold a pound of chalk or more, which, for the infrequent user, will outlast their life.

Of course you can replace the chalk if you run out. You can also replace the line if it starts to fray, break, or if you used a stronger chalk on it previously that’s not sufficient for your next project (the chalks have different strengths, but they’re usually numbered 1-4, so it’s easy to tell how weak or strong a chalk is). If you do anticipate having to replace your line a lot—you just LOVE using that chalk box—try to go for one that’s designed with easy access to the string.

Similarly, if you’re using a very thick line, a chalk box that completely opens up will probably be easier to work with than one where you have to essentially feed the string through. It may go without saying, but if you end up using a super thick line with a super strong chalk, you’ll want to swap out the entire line for any projects that don’t require such boldly visible, and difficult to remove, lines.


Get the Best Chalk Line of 2020!

Now that you’re all finished reading, have you decided which chalk line you’d like? Or maybe our favorites weren’t necessarily your favorites, and you’re still looking. If so, why not check out other chalk lines made by our selected brands? We select these companies because of their reputable behavior in business, which is just a fancy way of saying they treat their customers swell.

Our Top Choice
Tajima Chalk-Rite Jam Free Chalk Line Reel
Best Value
DEWALT DWHT47257L Compact Chalk Reel Kit
Keson G110 Little Giant Chalk Line Reel
Shinwa Neo Manual Crank Thin Chalk Line
Milwaukee Tool Bold Chalk Line Kit

Chalk Line FAQs

How to use a chalk line?
Before you use a chalk line, shake the chalk inside the tool or add some chalk if it’s lacking. Then, take one end of the device and hook to the starting point. If the chalk line is functioning properly, you can use it without the crank. If the line is difficult to lay out, then you may require a crank. You can fix the endpoint of the line and hold with your thumb or a nail or screw. If you have a long line, the second option is the best. After moving to the center point, snap the line. However, you should ensure that there the line doesn’t leave space between it and the surface. You can then inspect the resultant line to see if it is straight.
How does chalk line work?
A chalk line works by frequently refilling the casing so that it can leave clear marks. The line itself could be made of cotton or polyester. When it comes into contact with the chalk, it holds it onto its surface so that it can leave clear marks on a surface when snapped. Another important part of the chalk line is a geared reel which winds and unwinds the line before or after use.
What is the best chalk line?
The best chalk line is the one that can give you clear straight lines for accurate measurements. Even though a chalk box may not cost a lot, you should afford it to own it. Most chalk lines are made from ABS (thick plastic), elastomer, and a rubber covering. Instructively, these materials should be durable. Other things to check include the chalk capacity, line length, line width, metal hook and gear ratio. Ensure that all of these aspects meet the specifications you are looking for. Read our buying guide for more details!