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Just got bed slats made by someone who repairs furniture. The slats are made of maple wood, have been planed, and are unfinished. However, he made a bunch of pencil marks on the slats and I want to remove them.

I tested denatured alcohol and acetone on a wood sample, but these solvents don't completely remove the pencil marks from the wood. But, when I tried Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, all of the pencil marks came off completely.

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I don't know if it's okay to use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove all the pencil marks on the bed slats since it uses water. And I always hear water shouldn't be used on wood.

I don't know what else would work. Is it a bad idea to use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser?

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    Have you tried using a regular pencil eraser? – mmathis Apr 11 '17 at 21:44
  • Since there are quite a few gouges in the wood why don't you just hit it with a hand plane or card scraper. Card scraper will take off the pencil marks on a face like that in maybe 45 seconds max. But you might want a hand plane anyway since the side of that board has saw burn marks all over it. Also the powered planer they used has a few pretty big nicks in the blade, you can see it as a high ridge running along the grain direction (same way you feed the board through a planer). – jbord39 Apr 13 '17 at 6:08
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I don't know if it's okay to use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove all the pencil marks on the bed slats since it uses water. And I always hear water shouldn't be used on wood.

It's perfectly OK to use water on wood, many processes require you to wet the wood surface down with plain water or a watery liquid.

And anyway Magic Erasers don't need to be used with water :-)

I tested denatured alcohol and acetone on a wood sample, but these solvents don't completely remove the pencil marks from the wood.

These are the two go-to solvents for those who remove pencil marks that way. But unfortunately neither is 100% effective in all cases.

You can try wiping multiple times and really bearing down on the paper towel, most of the time for me with stubborn pencil marks that'll get rid of them or get you 90-95% of the way there.

Any remaining can usually be dealt with easily by gentle scraping, sanding or scuffing. And a Magic Eraser could work well for that last bit.

[there are] a bunch of pencil marks on the slats and I want to remove them.

This is a rhetorical question but why? Nobody is ever going to see them.

In case you don't know there's a long tradition in furniture work of not bothering to do work on surfaces that aren't seen in service.

On old furniture (even really good quality stuff) not only can they have pencil, chalk or gauge lines on them they were commonly left unfinished and could even still be rough from the saw or have scrub-plane marks on them!

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Acetone is my go to for removing pencil marks - I'm not sure why you're having trouble with it. Perhaps the builder has left very heavy/deep marks?

Water is fine to use on wood - I wouldn't leave it soaking in a bath over night, but it's fine to wipe down with water. The magic erase markers are also probably fine. They're mildly abrasive so you'll be removing a little bit of wood, but not anything significant. If you were planning on applying a finish to the wood, I'd suggest testing first to make sure that any residue wasn't going to mess with the finish.

Alternatively, you could just leave the marks in place - they're almost a signature by the maker and if they're going to be covered by a mattress you may be better off leaving them there.

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I would like to add that as a comment but rep thing did not allow me (at least; for the moment). I would try an regular erase first as mmathis said. Be aware that some erasers work better (depending on quality). If you do not get a satisfiying result you may try sandpapers. Try 400 grit first and go further with higher grits if necessary, until you get a satisfactory result.

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  • Lower grits if 400 won't do it. I think we meant the right thing it's just most common in English to refer to finer grits as higher, coarser grits as lower. – Graphus Apr 12 '17 at 8:09
  • Indeed I meant higher; I was considering the scratches caused by 400 grit sandpaper. To reach back to a satin surface, 600-800 or higher may be needed (I don't know how that original surface looks like)... Or as you said; if 400 does not remove that marks, 220 may be tried first and then again 400-600-800 may be applied to wipe off scratches. – borgs Apr 12 '17 at 8:20
  • But 400 is already far far finer than is needed to sand wood. 240 is about the highest grit required except in a few specialist applications and bed slats that nobody will ever see or touch I think can safely be classed as not a specialist application LOL – Graphus Apr 12 '17 at 8:34
  • well I usually end up with 2000 grit (maybe I am a little bit obsessive lol ) so I could not say 400 is fine :) anyway, it is a matter of taste :) – borgs Apr 12 '17 at 8:42
  • Are you sanding furniture pieces to 2000?? Or is this fine turning or pen work? – Graphus Apr 13 '17 at 7:39
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Magic Erasers are just melamine foam. They work by abrasion, there are no chemicals involved. The effect on the wood should be similar to rubbing it with very fine steel wool.

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