How to Remove Pencil Marks from Wood

Pencils are perfect for creating a rough design before proceeding with your painting process. They are ideal for creating designs as they let you erase your mistakes and change things as per your requirements.

Although they can easily be rubbed out from paper or canvas, the marks left on other surfaces by lead pencils could be a whole other story.

Moreover, the classic sanding method can be time-consuming and results in valleys and dents potentially ruining the veneer on wooden variants such as plywood.

Before you start removing pencil marks from wood, you need to first understand the type of wood that has been stained and the method that would actually work on it.

Remove Pencil Marks from Wood


Now, depending on whether the bunch of pencil marks are on finished wood or unfinished wood, the removal process can vary. With unfinished wood, you run the risk of rotting and similar issues if you try to clean it off with water or similar solutions.

This happens due to the moisture absorption by the unfinished wood. On the other hand, if your wood is a finished one, a soapy solution would work just as well. However, you would have to refrain from using alcohol, acetone, or similar liquids that can eat through the wooden finishing.

The key is to determine the type of wood you have and work your way accordingly. Alternatively, you also need to decide the type of pencil that has left a mark on the wooden surface.

There are three variants of common pencils that include graphite pencils, charcoal pencils, and color pencils. The hardness of pencil leads could also be a major factor. Softer pencils create light pencil marks that are easier to clean.

However, hard variants such as leaded pencil could be a tad difficult of a stain to remove from a wooden surface.

Graphite and color pencil stains are harder to remove, given their close molecular structure. Charcoal stains, given their powdery structure, are easy to clean.

However, the latter’s loose structure tends to fill into the surface texture and get trapped, leaving slight hints of dirt that need to be removed through other processes that are explained below.

To avoid these issues from happening, the key is to place a dark fabric on your wooden surface. This would help prevent marks from surfaces as clothes are easier to clean than wooden surfaces.

Read Also: What Wood are Pencils Made of?

Ways to Remove Pencil Marks from Wood

Now that you know the basics of pencil marks and wood types let us get to the part where we decode the best ways to remove pencil marks from wood.

Method 1: Take Help of Pencil Eraser

Although it might seem that the process for de-staining the wooden piece with a pencil eraser might seem complicated, it actually isn’t. It is just as simple as removing pencil stains from paper.

However, keep in mind that the action won’t work with colored pencils or charcoal pencils.

This process works perfectly with graphite pencil stains. It works best when used in finished wooden pieces as opposed to unfinished ones. This is because the lead particles might lodge deeper into the texture of the wooden piece if it is unfinished.

The smooth surface in finished wood ensures that the marks of pencil lead stain can be removed with a soft eraser with ease. In order to clean off the stain, you need to soak up the eraser in some warm water.

Next, squeeze out the excess water while ensuring that the eraser is still moist enough.

Finally, start rubbing across the mark on the wood gently until you see the stain clears off. This process would work best on heavy marks and any pencil mark that is spread across the wooden surface.

Method 2: Try Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol is perfect for cleaning up wood with pencil stains. It also assists in keeping the wood clean in case you plan on sanding it. Make sure you wear your protective gloves & treat this wood in an area that is well-ventilated.

When using denatured alcohol for cleaning pencil stains in wood, make sure you use lint-free clothing for the purpose. Keep in mind that denatured alcohol might dry out the wood. So, you might have to re-seal the finishing of the wood if you are cleaning a finished piece.

On the other hand, it is perfect for use in an unfinished piece as it won’t cause any rotting issues as there is no moisture involved in the process.

If your wooden surface has a clear finishing or any paint is involved, denatured alcohol might strip it off slightly. So, you might have to refinish the same.

Start by getting some high-quality denatured alcohol and dip your paintbrush or soft toothbrush onto it. Now, slowly brush the same over the stain and let the alcohol work.

Now, use a clean cloth and gently rub off the stain. Once you see that the stain has completely come off, wipe off any remnants with a paper towel and let the surface dry out naturally.

Method 3: Warm Water and Dish Soap

Another method you can try is fairly simple. Start by mixing warm water & dish soap in a bowl to create a soapy water solution. Remember that this method should be used only with finished wood and not unfinished ones.

If you happen to use it with unfinished wood, it won’t hamper the surface when used occasionally. However, regular use of this cleaning solution can cause the wooden surface to absorb moisture and eventually start rotting.

Make sure you use a mild soap as opposed to a strong one in order to ensure that the integrity of the surface is maintained. Take a clean cloth and dip it in this warm soapy solution. Squeeze out the excess water and gently rub this cloth over the stained section of the wood.

Once the stain comes off completely, use a clean cloth to wipe off any soapy residue left off in the cleaning process. Ensure that the wooden piece dries off completely. If possible, place the piece in an area that is airy enough to allow fast drying.

Method 4: Acetone also Works

Acetone can be also be found in nail polish removers and serve as a perfect choice for cleaning off pencil stains in wood.

This process works faster than sanding or using a pencil eraser. Acetone is known to dry off quickly without any possibility for raising the grains of the wooden surface. It is perfect for use on finished wooden surfaces.

However, it would work just as fine with the unfinished one. With the unfinished surfaces, there is a chance for a bit of stain to be left out. Acetone dries out pretty quickly and doesn’t cause any damage to the wooden surface, and removes the stain with just as ease.

To know more about this cleaning process, check out this video that describes it all in-depth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the best way to remove pencil marks?

The best and easiest method for removing pencil markings present on wooden surfaces is with the help of pencil erasers.

Additionally, you can make use of baby wipes or all-purpose cleaners to keep the wooden surface stain-free. Depending on whether the surface is finished or unfinished, you can also use liquid detergent to get rid of the stain left by the pencil.

Q: How do you remove pencil marks without an eraser?

To remove any type of pencil mark without an eraser, you can make use of some rubber bands tied together. Now keep in mind that very few rubber band variants would work for this purpose.

So, you will have to pick and choose the right ones. When you find some, tie them up together in the shape of a small ball and rub it on the stain until it comes off completely.

Q: Does toothpaste remove pencil marks?

Yes, toothpaste can be used to remove pencil marks as well as pen marks depending on the surface the stain is on. In order to get rid of the stain, gently dab some toothpaste onto a cloth and wipe it all across the pencil lead stains.

This will help ensure that the wooden particle doesn’t get deteriorated while the stain is removed completely.

Q: How to get pencil marks off unfinished wood?

In order to remove pencil stain from unfinished wood, you simply have to wet the cleaning eraser in warm water. Next, squeeze out the excess water from the rubber and start rubbing it across the stain until the same completely comes off. The right way is to make use of ingredients that help remove lead without disfiguring the unfinished wood.

Wrap Up

With these tips and tricks in mind, you can ensure that your wooden surface is spick and span, minus any pencil lead stains. Before you try any of these tricks, make sure you check whether the wood is a finished or unfinished one.

Remember, sanding might seem like an ideal choice, but it could dent or destroy the wooden surface. So, make sure you opt for solutions that don’t harm your wood in any way.

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Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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