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How to Get Pencil Off Wood – 6 Simple & Reliable Methods

how to get pencil off wood

One of the most important things that you should learn during woodworking class is to measure twice and cut once. To make sure that you are cutting the wood at just the right place, you have to put pencil marks.

Now, what do you do after? You cannot just leave the pencil marks on the wood, especially if you will not be painting it, so you should know how to get the pencil off wood. There are many ways to erase pencil marks, both from finished and unfinished wood surfaces.

Here you will learn about how to remove pencil marks from wood, whatever kind of situation you find yourself in.

How to Get Pencil Off Wood

Try Using an Eraser First

get pencil off wood using rubber eraser

Materials Needed

  • Rubber eraser – The one that came with the pencil will do
  • Or a Vinyl eraser

Step 1 – Gently rub the pencil mark

Use the rubber eraser that came with your number 2 pencil. If you did not gouge out the wood with the pencil, simply rubbing the eraser over the mark should be enough to remove the pencil marking. If you are doing this on a finished surface, make sure that you do it gently to not scuff the surface.

Step 2 – Use a vinyl eraser

If you want to prevent damaging the surface, use a vinyl eraser. This type of eraser is gentler on the surface but can still lift the graphite.

Using Denatured Alcohol

get pencil off wood using denatured alcohol

Materials Needed:

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Clean rag

Step 1 – Test the denatured alcohol on a hidden spot

If you will be using this method on a finished surface, make sure to test the alcohol first on a hidden part. This is so you can be sure that it does not stain the surface. If you do not have denatured alcohol, a bit of rubbing alcohol will work just as well.

Step 2 – Proceed to wipe the pencil mark away

If you will be erasing pencil marks from unfinished or a surface that you plan on sanding later, you can use denatured alcohol to remove the graphite. Use a soft rag, dip it in a bit of denatured alcohol and proceed to wipe it on the marked surface until the pencil marks disappear.

Warm Water and Dish Soap

get pencil off wood using dish soap

Materials Needed:

  • Warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Clean rag or sponge
  • Heat gun or hair dryer

Step 1 – Mix a bit of dish soap into some warm water

This is a simple yet quite effective solution, literally. Just mix dish soap into some warm water. Do not use too much dish soap. It should be just enough to make the water bubbly.

Step 2 – Scrub the pencil mark away

Use a small sponge to scrub at the pencil mark using the soapy solution. If the mark is not that deep, this should erase the marking immediately.

Step 3 – Let the wood dry completely

Since you are dealing with water, you should only use this on finished wood. Unfinished wood will absorb the water and cause rot. If you will be using this method, make sure to let the wood dry completely. You may even want to use a blow dryer or heat gun to hasten the process.

Using Acetone

get pencil off wood using acetone

Materials needed:

  • Acetone
  • A clean rag

Also known as nail polish remover, acetone acts like denatured alcohol. It dissolves the graphite that is in the pencil marks, making it easier to lift out using a rag. Just dab a bit of acetone on a clean rag, and gently rub it all over the pencil marks. If you are also looking for methods on how to get colored pencil off wood, acetone will work as well.

You can use this method even on unfinished wood. Because acetone dries quickly, it will not soak the wood grain and cause rot. It is also ideal for use on finished wood and veneers. However, I do advise you to test this method in an unseen location first just to be sure that it does not damage the wood.

White Toothpaste

get pencil off wood using toothpaste

Materials needed:

  • White toothpaste
  • A clean rag
  • Some water (if needed)

Step 1 – Dab a bit of toothpaste on the pencil mark

You can also use toothpaste to remove pencil marks on the wood. However, go for white toothpaste, instead of gels. Just apply a bit of toothpaste to the stained surface and then use a clean rag to rub it into the marks. The baking soda in the toothpaste will gently scrub out the graphite and the rest pick up the dirt.

Step 2 – Rub the toothpaste off the surface

Use another clean rag to rub the white toothpaste off the surface. If all went well, the toothpaste would have picked up most of the graphite. The toothpaste must have also whitened the area enough to make any residual pencil marks invisible.

This method is also ideal for finished surfaces as the toothpaste will not damage the surface. In addition, it will polish the surface and give it a deep shine. In terms of unfinished wood, this could still work but you need to make sure that you do not use too much water.

When All Else Fails Sandpaper and Elbow Grease Won’t

Only do this method if the pencil marks are quite deep. This means that even though you managed to remove the graphite, the wood has a deep gouge in it. This usually happens when you use a hard pencil lead for marking the wood, like a number 3 or a 4H. You have to press the tip of these pencils firmly to leave a mark.

In that case, you should use a bit of coarse sandpaper and then gently sand the stained surface. Be careful not to sand off too much wood as it will leave the surface quite uneven.


It might seem simple, but not that many people know how to get pencil off wood, especially when they have already tried using the eraser. Do not panic if you cannot erase the pencil marks on your project. There are many other techniques that you can try and one of them is bound to work.

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