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I recently heard of lumber crayons that are used for marking pieces on boards, particularly rough sawn boards. I'm about to embark on a new project using rough lumber and wanted to gauge how many boards I need. The best way I can think of is to draw it out with a lumber crayon.

But, I'm a cheapo fella, and lazy to boot. I don't feel like going to the local Lowes Depot to buy a crayon when I have tens of thousands hiding in couch cushions, junk drawers, kids' dressers, and some even in the pipes of my house.

So, what's the difference? Can't I just use a crayola crayon?

  • Don't forget chalk as an option too, in the shop many guys make easy-to-remove marks on their wood with common chalk. And I saw somewhere somewhen a guy recommending using tailor's chalks which are thin, to more easily allow for accurate-ish marks to be made. – Graphus Jan 3 at 19:14
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One definition of a lumber crayon:

Extruded lumber crayons last up to 10 times longer than ordinary molded wax crayons. Fade-proof, water-proof, smear-proof. Won’t melt in direct sunlight. Will work on wet (green) lumber or dry wood, metal, concrete and most other surfaces (source)

Let's break this down:

  • You can smear your standard crayon - that makes 'em fun! Score 1 for the lumber crayon.
  • Standard crayons will melt in high temps. (Don't leave 'em on the dashboard of your car!) Score 1 for the lumber crayon.
  • The lumber crayon claims to last 10x longer.
    • You're stealing from your kids, who cares. They have more crayons than they need anyway.
    • Call this a wash...
  • I find it hard to believe that a standard Crayola™-type crayon isn't waterproof. Call this a wash, too.
  • I've seen kid's drawings on refrigerators that are a decade or more old and they don't appear to have significantly faded. Who needs marks on their lumber for this long? Call it a wash at best.
  • No idea if a standard crayon will write on wet or green lumber. 0.5 for the lumber crayon.
  • I guarantee a regular crayon will write on concrete! This is a wash.
  • Lumber crayons tend to be carpenter's-pencil shaped (though the ones that feature in the quote above are hex shaped), so they're less likely to roll away. Score 1 for the lumber crayon.
  • Lumber crayons seem to be thicker in all dimensions than most kids' crayons, so they're less likely to break in heavy use. Score 1 for the lumber crayon.
  • Comes in a box of 64 colors with a built in sharpener. Score 2 for the kid's crayons!!

Without doing the (admittedly) arbitrary math, I'm pretty sure that for one-off work, stealing your kid's crayons will work just fine for your project. If you were a professional lumber grader, you'd probably want the lumber crayon for its more industrial-strength qualities.

  • this may be the most delightful answer ever :) Thanks! (and yes, I know I'm not supposed to comment a thank you, but this was too unique to pass it up). – dfife Jan 3 at 21:31
  • @dfife awww... shucks... blush :) – FreeMan Jan 3 at 21:57

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