Use Chalk Instead of a Pencil

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Forum topic by NedG posted 03-27-2012 07:13 PM 5637 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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56 posts in 2552 days

03-27-2012 07:13 PM

When cutting boards for a project, it helps to mark the boards with useful information (which side is to be exposed; numbering the corners of a frame; etc.). Rather than using a pencil for this, I use blackboard chalk. Chalk is easier to read than a pencil and it’s easier to erase. Chalk can’t take the place of the fine line of a pencil, but it sure is better than a pencil in many instances.

12 replies so far

View Dusty56's profile


11830 posts in 3926 days

#1 posted 03-27-2012 07:19 PM

Yup : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Domer's profile


252 posts in 3604 days

#2 posted 03-27-2012 07:53 PM

I watched a video of Sam Maloof marking a board to cut with a piece of chalk. And then cut the board on a band saw using the chalk mark. So if it is good enough for Sam Maloof, it should be good enough for us.


View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 3075 days

#3 posted 03-28-2012 03:58 AM

Here I go against the grain… I use pencil except for the very detail (accurate) cuts in which case I use a thin knife mark. Pencil marks may sink into soft pine and present minor problems, but if you’re using hardwoods, use a pencil. This is not to say that chalk users are wrong, but I don’t even know who Sam Maloof is. As a matter of fact, I use pencils in my final prep routine.

I scribble all over the surface with a pencil and sand out the marks with a 100 paper. I again scribble and sand it out with a 120 paper. I do it again using 150 paper. I then dampen my surfaces with water (not soak) and after about 20 minutes, when the water is dry, I can feel whiskers on the surface and I sand these off with 180 paper using my hands, not a machine sanding. Anything higher in grit will close the grain in hardwood.

This works great for me, but I’m sure there are makers of fine furniture who would disagree with my final finishing method. My method works best for me and I’m sure their method works best for them!

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View ELCfinefurniture's profile


112 posts in 2558 days

#4 posted 03-28-2012 09:04 AM

I don’t use chalk for marking. Always a pencil. I use a white pencil on walnut but still always a pencil. I do however use chalk heavily with labeling. I like to label all my parts so as to not get confused and always ensure I’m oriented properly.

-- {Current North Bennet street school student}

View Magnum's profile


10932 posts in 3271 days

#5 posted 03-28-2012 10:16 AM

I use a Pencil also, an “HB”/ No. 2 (Same Lead by two names) and use to Sand the Marks off. PAIN!

Almost by accident I found that a Regular Eraser takes the Pencil Marks off Very Nicely!

Now I’m using one of those White Rectangular Art Erasers. It works even better.

At least 90% of the work I do is in Pine. Yes, The Pencil leaves very small grooves but I haven’t done any Finish Sanding yet. When I do, they Quickly Disappear.

-- Made In Ontario, CANADA

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3018 days

#6 posted 03-28-2012 10:41 AM

I’m using chalk for the part id process, and to highlight any areas that need work.
In the midst of a pine DVD case my youngest started, getting his pencil marks out has been tough, might as well have used a knife and filled the gouge with black paint.
However, thanks to a post elsewhere on this site..denatured, or rubbing alcohol takes it off very well, my wife stands by the white art eraser as well

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

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Fred Hargis

5236 posts in 2731 days

#7 posted 03-28-2012 11:29 AM

I use chalk when possible, but find it hard to remove from the more open grain woods such as oak. Since that’s a lot of what I work with I’m normally marking things with a pencil.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3591 days

#8 posted 03-28-2012 12:56 PM

Yep I’ve used chalk too on occasion.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

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Gene Howe

11149 posts in 3666 days

#9 posted 03-28-2012 01:06 PM

As to erasing pencil lines, I use a dedicated crepe sanding belt cleaner and/or rubbing alcohol. I’ve found that the particular wood I’m using will require one or the other, or both, to completely erase the marks.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3718 days

#10 posted 03-28-2012 01:08 PM

I use chalk to label board sides, directions, etc, but I use a sharp pencil to mark cuts.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3164 days

#11 posted 03-28-2012 02:38 PM

Used pencil all my life, tried chalk last fall on a cradle I built (Peruvian Walnut – quite dark) and liked it, but have since gone back to using pencil on ash, oak, mahogany and exotics.

Bernie, if you google Sam Maloof, you will find amazing designs and items he has built, and you may not agree with the style, but have to enjoy the craftsmanship.

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

View stefang's profile


16209 posts in 3572 days

#12 posted 03-28-2012 05:37 PM

On dark woods I like to mark them with a knife and the rub chalk into the cut lines. I prefer fine pencil for white woods and those marks are very easy to remove with a little ethanol (denatured alcohol). No sanding, no erasing if you don’t make trenches with your pencil.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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