Black iron oxide for chalk line

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Review by mafe posted 08-25-2011 01:42 PM 7358 views 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Black iron oxide for chalk line Black iron oxide for chalk line Black iron oxide for chalk line Click the pictures to enlarge them

Black iron oxide
for the chalk line

A friend told me about the use of black iron oxide for the chalk line, this has been used as pigment all the way back to my ancestors the Vikings.

It is a water resistant and inexpensive product of nature.

So I bought a Stanley chalk line roll and filled it up with this black iron oxide, and tested it on a piece of work that are Japanese inspired, this because they usually use the ink line, but I find that a bit messy.

SO what happened?
The line stood clear, but the work piece and the workspace yes even the floor was now powdered with a thin layer of this… If it was chalk it was not a problem, but since this iron oxide is black and sticks as soon as you touch it, and the water resistant on top, I think it is easy to imagine my joy of this new wonder…

As you can see on the photos black stuff all over, washed my hands three times before it was all of, and the worktable will need to be sanded down now…

So what is the review?
As a substitute for a chalk line indoor – do not use it!
As a substitute for the ink line – not comparable.
As a pigment for making colors – excellent.
As a marking tool for building a Viking ship or house that will be painted black after it might be the right choice if you have plenty of water to wash your hands after.

So to others that want to experiment in really old ways, be prepared for a mess…
And yes you are really welcome to laugh at me! lol.

Hope it can keep others from doing the same mistake,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View mafe's profile


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19 comments so far

View tenontim's profile


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#1 posted 08-25-2011 01:47 PM

I would give this a try for ebonizing oak, although India ink works great for that, but don’t think I’d put it in my chalk line. Actually, I’d be happy just to find my chalk line. Either one of the two that I misplaced about a year ago.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3859 days

#2 posted 08-25-2011 01:48 PM

Funny. One other downside, I imagine that the iron oxide would not be very friendly to your edge tools such as chisesl and planes. Not sure that normal chalk would be much better, but I am pretty sure that anything with IRON, no matter how tiny, is going to be good for sharp edges.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Brit's profile


8103 posts in 3643 days

#3 posted 08-25-2011 01:51 PM

Well you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs Mads. Glad you found that out so I don’t have to. :-)

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View mafe's profile


12602 posts in 3889 days

#4 posted 08-25-2011 03:06 PM

Ups I gave it five stars to begin with this was a mistake, unless you are using it for the purpose I describe in the review.

Andy, yes I took the long road… But since I love to learn the hard way, mistakes are often a part of my path.

Doc, you might have a point there also, but it seems not to rust, and I think it will be minimal wear on the tools, but yes you might be right.

Tim, my chalk line had also almost vanished and when I found it, it was made of plastic and was full of blue chalk, so I decided it was time for an update. Bought a new metal case chalk line from Hultafors I filled with red chalk and this one … I will see if I can get the powder out again and use it with chalk instead or perhaps keep it just in case I decide to build a Viking ship one day…

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 3568 days

#5 posted 08-25-2011 03:06 PM

Mads, you might try using a large magnet to lift the stuff off of your bench, or maybe a tack cloth would work.

I had a similar experience years ago with some Red powder sold for chalk lines. The display said it had better visibility and lasted longer than standard blue chalk. I bought some and used it to mark walls for a drop ceiling in our new office addition. When we were done marking I intended to vacuum the “chalk” residue off the newly installed carpet as I’d done in the past. To my horror it didn’t vacuum up. As the sign said “better visibility and last longer. The New carpet had permanent RED lines every where the string had touched.

I went to the store and purchased several brands of carpet cleaner/spot remover. After trying several brands finally one of them worked. I think it was called Spot Not – Carpet Cleaner and Spot Remover. It was a lot of work getting all of the red “chalk” lines off of the carpet. I think the red chalk was a petroleum based product. My hands were red by the time I was done cleaning the carpet.

I’ve never used that Red Chalk Line indoors again, works great out side.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View jusfine's profile


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#6 posted 08-25-2011 06:41 PM

thank you for that information! :)

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Bertha's profile


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#7 posted 08-25-2011 06:48 PM

This reminds me of when I added a whirligig vent to my shop roof and used black roof tar in a caulk gun tube. The first squeeze of the trigger shot a stream of the stuff on my shirt. When I looked down in shock, my glasses fell into it. At the end, all I needed was the feathers.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Sarit's profile


552 posts in 3940 days

#8 posted 08-25-2011 07:56 PM

If ur still in the mood to try something new, how about using powdered graphite. It’s sold as a dry lubricant. My guess is that it would behave like a pencil line.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

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#9 posted 08-25-2011 09:43 PM

Chalk it up to experience!

Thanks for the info


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4103 days

#10 posted 08-25-2011 10:13 PM

im glad you said it was ok to laugh, because i was there before you said it…at least your trying new things , we just never know huh…or maybe we do, if it was a good idea..someone else would have probably dont it already…is there anything left for us to invent…lol…....ill think on it…glad you got cleaned up…....grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3490 days

#11 posted 08-26-2011 04:00 AM

Bertha I’ve had similar experiences with roof tar. Just open the can and it begins attacking and the more you try to clean it off, the more it spreads all over everything. Shop Tinker I had the same experience with the red chalk and never did get it all out of a textured wall. Had to paint over it!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4141 posts in 3909 days

#12 posted 08-26-2011 04:29 AM

I’m laughing with you, Al. I’ve had the same thing happen to me. Although it was an aluminized roofing paint. That stuff splashes out like the proverbial cow peeing on the proverbial rock.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3734 days

#13 posted 08-26-2011 07:13 AM

I had a good laugh Mafe. Enjoy the sanding.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View mafe's profile


12602 posts in 3889 days

#14 posted 08-26-2011 10:41 AM

Hi guys,

A morning of smiles here in my lumber heart.
You all made me laugh again about my self – yes I guess ‘if no one else use it, it might be for a reason’...
I was just thinking it was a little cool to be eco friendly and look bacwards to see what they used to do… Just found out they used to get messy…

Al and gfadvm, I also worked with roof tar in a caulk gun tube, the kind with fibers inside, heated it ud a little so it was really good to work with, and it was, it could get into every cornor, also of my fingers, hair and clothes… So my DIY ended up taking hours of cleaning and that I threw out the trousers and t-shirt… (I acually liked the trousers…). Ohhh yes and the fix worked by the way.

Sarit, I think it is your turn now…

Shopthinker, I laughed big time thank you, I could easy imagine the scenes.

Best thought and thank you for the smile, I needed that,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4473 days

#15 posted 08-26-2011 01:58 PM

Neat idea, Mad.

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