For years I’ve kept some kind marker in my tool bags for laying out plates and marking lumber (See Framer’s Everyday Carry). Recently I’ve been using a jobsite marker from Milwaukee called the Inkzall. The tool has been out for several months and is available in three configurations: a medium point marker that comes two to a pack, a fine point marker that comes 4 to a pack, and a fine point marker with a stylus that can be used on tablets. The markers are black and can be clipped onto hardhats so they won’t get lost.
According to Milwaukee, Inkzall markers can write on dusty, wet, oily and rough surfaces like OSB, concrete or cinder block. And if you forget to put the cap on, they won’t dry out right away.
I’ve been using Milwaukee’s medium marker for about three months and for the most part I like it. The medium point is great for laying out wall plates; the line is not much thicker than a pencil line but is dark and can be seen from a distance. When siding a house I’ll write the dimensions for pieces on the house wrap or sheathing (if we’re using Huber’s Zip System). A pencil will put marks on these materials but they’ll be too faint to be seen from far away. The Inkzall is a better choice because the numbers will be dark enough for the cut man to see them from the cut station.
There are a couple of things I don’t like about the Inkzall. The tip is not all that tough and I’ve worn them away by writing on Zip Wall OSB. For writing on OSB I’ve gone back to using a Sharpie Magnum. It’s cheap, and I’ve had the same one for a year and it hasn’t worn out. The other thing I don’t like about the Inkzall is that it doesn’t work on wet wood. It’ll start out writing but quickly fades and produces no line at all. My Sharpie does this too. For wet wood I use a crayon in a keel holder because no one has been able to invent anything that works as well.
For framing, I recommend carrying an Inkzall medium tip for laying out plates, a Sharpie Magnum for drawing on rough surfaces, and a crayon for when it is raining. For more on the Inkzall—especially as it applies to trades other than framing carpentry—see the video at the bottom of this page.
The fine point (4 per pack) and medium point (2 per pack) can be found on the web for about $7 per pack. The model with the stylus is sold individually and can be found online for $10.