chalks and filer
Photo: Keate
Brandished by everyone from grade schoolers to cops, chalk is the ideal temporary marker. Here are some tips for multitasking with the powdery staple.

1. File Right. Rubbing chalk onto a metal file makes its teeth easier to clean by reducing their tendency to clog with soft metals.

2. Degrease a Collar. Rub the spot with white chalk, let it sit, then dust it off.

3. Locate a Box. When installing drywall, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva rubs chalk on the front edges of electrical boxes. After positioning a sheet of drywall, then pressing it against the box, he can cut neatly along the transferred outline.

4. Repeat Patterns. Chalk, sanded into a powder, helps woodcarvers repeat a design. Attach a perforated stencil to the workpiece, then sprinkle the dust over its holes to create the pattern.

5. Adjust a Strike Zone. When deadbolt latches don't quite fit, TOH contributor Larry LeMasters marks the end of the bolt with chalk to leave a record of contact on the strike plate. Then he enlarges the plate's opening with a file until the bolt fits.

6. Track a Walk. Landscape contractors organize complex flagstone layouts by chalking numbers or letters on the stones.

7. Patch a Wall. To fix odd-shaped holes in plaster, TOH building technology editor Tom Baker rubs the outline onto paper with chalk. The impression makes an accurate template for cutting metal reinforcing lath.

8. Plan a Room. Because it easily erases, TOH technical editor Mark Powers uses chalk to mark locations of fixtures and partitions right on the walls and floor before committing to a final remodeling plan.

9. Cinch a Screw. Scraping both sides of a flat screwdriver on a piece of chalk keeps it from slipping off the screw as you tighten it.

10. Sand Evenly. When matching a seam, rub chalk along it. Chalk on a high spot will disappear first. Stop when all chalk is gone.
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