Can I fix this mistake?

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Forum topic by wookus posted 01-13-2015 10:49 PM 1192 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View wookus's profile


9 posts in 1569 days

01-13-2015 10:49 PM

I’m in the process of making speaker cabinets out of solid oak. I have glued them up into nice boxes using my Festool Domino machine. In the process of cutting the mortises for the dominos I could not see the pencil marks on the end grain of the tops, so without thinking, I used a Sharpie permanent marker to darken the lines. I can’t believe I did something this stupid, but I did, and I did it on all the boxes.

I tried cleaning the marks off with isopropyl alcohol and with acetone and neither worked. Even sanding like crazy hasn’t helped much since the marker seems to have penetrated far into the wood.

I can cover the endgrains of the tops of the cabinets with trim boards, but I’m wondering if there is a way to get rid of the marks instead.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to eliminate the lines I drew with the Sharpie?

10 replies so far

View dawsonbob's profile


1838 posts in 1176 days

#1 posted 01-13-2015 11:02 PM

Try Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Just be sure to rinse well afterward. Don’t know how it will work on wood, but it’s save my bacon a few times.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View Buckethead's profile


3140 posts in 1290 days

#2 posted 01-13-2015 11:40 PM

I think the sharpie probably made it in pretty good. No topical cleaning is likely to remedy this in my opinion. Especially at the end grain.

I’d break out the block plane to find out if a few passes is sufficient to remove it. If not, I’d consider an espresso stain. I think oak looks good like that, but I’m guessing you’re trying to fit these cabinets into an environment that may have your color selection already set.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1140 posts in 1055 days

#3 posted 01-13-2015 11:45 PM

Try sticking the end in a bowl of denatured alcohol.
dipping in and out.
It won’t hurt the wood, and it should remove a lot of the color as it drips out color slowly.
No it won’t remove it all , but it might make it almost un-noticeable.

-- Jeff NJ

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5105 posts in 2615 days

#4 posted 01-14-2015 12:15 AM

Lighter fluid or naptha…....

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View AandCstyle's profile


2539 posts in 1678 days

#5 posted 01-14-2015 12:17 AM

You could try using bleach on a sample piece. This article might be helpful.

-- Art

View TheFridge's profile


5676 posts in 907 days

#6 posted 01-14-2015 12:37 AM

Oak end grain will suck it up. Good luck bud.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2506 posts in 2859 days

#7 posted 01-14-2015 12:49 AM

A sharpie (used to be a school teacher and used them on acetate) is soluble in rubbing alcohol. It’s probably seeped into the grain deep so soaking that corner might do it.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View wookus's profile


9 posts in 1569 days

#8 posted 01-14-2015 08:18 AM

Thank you all for the ideas. The cabinets are each about 30” tall by 16” wide by 15” deep, so the best I could do was saturate the end grains in the suggested chemicals. Unfortunately, Sharpie is true to its name when it says “permanent.” The marks have just penetrated the wood too far.

Buckethead, I’d like to try your idea of using espresso stain. That could look especially nice if I could use it just on the tops of the cabinets. I like the look of contrasts. I have no experience using stains. Is there a particular brand and kind of stain you, or any of the others could recommend to me?

Thanks to everyone, I really appreciate your ideas.


View Buckethead's profile


3140 posts in 1290 days

#9 posted 01-14-2015 12:07 PM

Wookus, I’m not particularly knowledgeable about stains. In fact, I don’t recall ever having used any. That said, there is a wealth of information on this site about stains and their application. Many folks here have mastered the art.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 757 days

#10 posted 01-14-2015 01:34 PM

I feel for you wookus. Through decades of experience with sharpies I have come to the conclusion that sharpies are useful in only two situations: marking golf balls and leaving stains on my fingers seemingly forever. I once marked a golf ball and put the sharpie in my mouth felt tip side in. I had a sharpei type tongue for awhile. Shot a 77 so there’s that. Darker stain might help. Solvent in thin baking pan might let you soak the edge grain. Good luck.

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

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