Sep 21, 2017

How to: The Easy Way to Remove Pencil Marks from Your Woodworking Projects

Saws are exciting, and chisels and hand planes look really great on top of your workbench. But if you ask me, the number one most-important, guaranteed tool I use on every single project is: the No. 2 pencil.

created at: 07/19/2016

It's essential for everything from sketching to measuring to layout and marking parts, and its "easy to remove" nature makes it perfect for seeing now, disappearing later. Except, have you ever actually tried to remove pencil from wood before applying a finish?   

Erasers did not get the memo that they should work on wood. Using sandpaper is time consuming and results in creating dents and valleys, potentially ruining veneer on something like plywood. I've heard that nail polish remover (acetone) works, but I've never had much success with it. What actually works as a liquid eraser is...

created at: 07/19/2016

Denatured alcohol. Sold in hardware stores and home centers with the paint and wood stains, it's only about $6-8 a can. As long as you keep the top on it to prevent it from evaporating, it will last forever.

created at: 07/19/2016

To use it to remove pencil marks, simply place some on clean rag, and apply it to the wood. It's not a simple wipe-away process; you'll have to rub a bit and create some friction. So, just concentrate on one small area at a time. 

created at: 07/19/2016

But, in a couple of seconds, the pencil marks will disappear, and after a minute or so, the alcohol will evaporate. If you do have a little ghosting left, then you can take a couple swipes with some 220-grit sandpaper to clean everything up.

created at: 07/19/2016

Done. Moving on to the next step in your project...




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kenneth a soule on Oct 28, 2018:

Don't make the lines so long....

Keith on Jun 17, 2018:

Great idea. That will save me a lot of work!

John on Feb 15, 2018:

Recently I erased the lines, then I did some light sanding (not as much as it usually takes to remove pencil lines which were gone by then anyway), then finished the piece with Osmo oil. No pencil lines to be seen after the oil was applied.

Chris on Feb 06, 2018:

@John - Really? On wood? Ready for finish? I have *never* been able to remove a graphite line on wood with an eraser entirely so that it won't show under an oil finish.

John S on Feb 05, 2018:

I find that a good quality rubber/eraser is the first thing to use. Works well most of the time.

John Harwood on Jan 22, 2018:

I often stick a piece of masking tape where I want to drill, and mark the pencil lines on that. If I can find the masking tape, that is...

Woody Woodworker on Dec 17, 2017:

I tend to do my marking an cutting before I sand, so there's that......

Justin on Sep 06, 2017:

What about putting a piece of masking tape down, making your mark then drill/cut? Remove the tape. May not be the thing for all jobs, but probably a good percentage.

Gary Griswold on Jun 14, 2017:

When did the venerable #2 become an HB?

JOHN on Feb 12, 2017:

thank you, I have fought with this problem for a long time.