Remove sharpie from bare wood

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ridethespiral, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. I just scored a nice Yamaha B424 for $200 which is in pretty damn good shape. The only problem is there is sharpie on the back of the headstock from when the guy I bought it from lent it out :spit:

    The back of the neck is not finished so it's not like it's on clear coat or anything.. The sharpie is directly on wood. Is there any way I could make it less visible? There isn't a whole bunch. Just a couple letters :scowl:

    I just removed a sticker from the body using rubbing alcohol, but I'd be afraid to use that directly on wood. Maybe a light sanding with some 1500 grit? I have no idea how deep it penetrated though.
  2. adam.beauchene

    adam.beauchene Commercial User

    Dec 31, 2007
    Technician at NS Design
    What kind of wood?

    I seem to be recommending this a lot for different things, but try carefully scraping it off with a razor blade, held vertically and used like a cabinet scraper. You should be able to get most of it off, or at least obscure it, without any damage.
  3. The neck is Maple and Nato

    edit: am I able to apply lemon oil to the maple and nato neck? It looks pretty dull and could use a bit of shine.
  4. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
  5. In that link you post, he says there is a clear coat on the table. There is no coating on the back of the neck. It is directly on wood and therefore most likely penetrated the grain a bit.
  6. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If it is maple it has a finish on it, its most likely a satin poly finish. What you need is denatured alcohol, it should lift most of the sharpie off, though there still may be a shadow left after you are finished.
  7. I'm 99% certain it is unfinished. It feels like wood. I have a bass with a satin poly finish so I know what that's like. I can see how it seeped into the grain a bit.
  8. Smilodon


    Feb 18, 2012
    Yeah, if it's maple it's most likely finished with something. If it wasn't the neck would get very ugly pretty quickly and the sharpie would be the least of your worries TBH.

    I would give rubbing alcohol a try. or maybe even some vodka (should be less aggressive). Just dip a cotton swab in some alcohol and dab it on a piece of paper towel before you gently rub on the sharpie. The paper towel is to absorb some of the alcohol so that it doesn't run all over the place.

    Rotate the swap as you go along so you absorb the sharpie ink instead of rubbing it all over the place. As soon as the swab gets black, replace it.
  9. I'll try that when I get home since I have a bottle of 99% and cotton swabs. I don't think I'd want the water + sugars that are in vodka to get in the wood. I suppose you're right about how nasty it would get if it was unfinished. It must just be sealed with something with no clear coat. IDK, not my area of expertise :p

    Whatever the finish on the neck, it's extremely thin.

    Appreciate the opinions all :)

    edit: found a bottle of 99% rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs. I got almost all of the sharpie off in 30 seconds. The area is a little darker looking but can hardly tell there was sharpie :D
  10. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars

    Now go to your nearest hardware store and get some Denatured Alcohol and get rid of the dark spot that is still there :D

    I would almost guarantee that it is a thin satin poly finish on that neck. I doubt neck would be finished in oil or nitro.
  11. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    Glad you got it off.

    Wrench mentioned dry erase markers taking off sharpie. I've seen this trick too. I believe the solvent in dry erase markers is alcohol which is what makes the trick work, so alcohol + cotton swabs = dry erase.
  12. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    The neck must be finished. Sharpie on bare wood is a nightmare to get out because is soaks in surprisingly deep. One of the big rules in the shop I work is never use sharpie on an area that will be finished. Even on wood that will be painted, sharpies (and markers in general) have an annoying tendency to bleed through paint.