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How to Sharpen a China Marker with 2 Simple Methods?

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to sharpen a china marker

Are you excited to use your brand new China marker for the first time? Did you try to do some sketches with that marker, and it turned out so amazing? Yet, you realize the marker nib is blunt, and you have no idea how to sharpen it.

I’m certain that you don’t want to throw away your China marker just because you can’t sharpen it, right? Don’t worry because we are coming to save your day! Keep reading this article to find out how.

This article will show you two different methods on how to sharpen a China marker:

  • Use a Knife: shave off a good amount of wood on your marker until the core is exposed enough for you to continue with your writing.
  • Pull-Out the String: pull the attached string by a short distance and tear off the outer wrapper to reveal the inside wax.

Which Material is Your Marker Made of


The core of China marker is usually a mix of non-toxic opaque wax, such as beeswax or carnauba wax. As a result, it allows users to write on nearly any surface, including non-porous or porous.

In addition, sometimes, the wrapper of a China marker is made from one of the two materials, which are paper or wood. Therefore, you must identify the type of marker you have to determine the most effective technique to sharpen your marker pen.

If your pencil is in a wood wrapper, it will look like an ordinary pencil. Hence, you can sharpen your China marker using a pocket knife, a penknife, or a scalpel as long as it is sharp enough.

On the other hand, if you see a small string attached to your marker, it is called a paper-wrapped marker, and you use that string for the sharpening process. Moreover, this type of China marker is safer for children to sharpen by themselves.

Now that you have categorized your marker, please continue with the following sections for all the instructions. I will mention any additional materials for each technique below.

How to Sharpen a China Marker with 2 Simple Methods

1. Use a Knife

As mentioned above, this method is applicable for China markers with a wood wrapper. However, this technique requires you to be attentive. Meticulousness is necessary to achieve a striking finish.

Besides your pencil, you will need a sharp pocket knife and a pair of cotton gloves. A penknife or a scalpel can be an alternative to a pocket knife.

I recommend you to pay EXTREME CAUTION when using the knife. Children should ask their parents for support during the process. Make sure the blade is never facing towards you.

  • Put on your cotton gloves to prevent any injuries that may occur, such as cutting yourself, etc.
  • Hold the marker with its tip pointing downward using your non-dominant hand. The marker tip should lean slightly on the table or a flat area for uncomplicated operation.

I recommend not to push it too hard. Or the damaged wax will result in some poorly written strokes.

  • Hold the knife at a 45-degree angle close to the end of the wood wrapper using your dominant hand.
  • Slowly push the knife toward the marker tip with great caution, and shave off a little bit of wood on the way.
  • Turn the marker and repeat the shaving process around it until a sufficient amount of wax is revealed.

2. Pull-Out the String

This technique is best used for paper-wrapped China markers as they have a string attached to their body that will help users easily sharpen and peel the markers. However, it is necessary that you also prepare a pair of scissors.

  • Hold the wax pencil firmly, use your non-dominant hand for better operation.

You may see Step 2 of the “Use a Knife” method for references of how to hold your marker.

  • With your other hand, use the thumb and forefinger to grasp a small length of the string that is protruding near the tip of your marker.
  • Pull the string down slowly and tear the first coil of the wrapper. Then, tear the coil one by one so that you don’t risk overdoing it and cause breakages.
  • Once the paper layer is torn, unwind the outer wrapper to reveal the wax inside. Repeat the process until enough wax is exposed for writing.
  • Cut the excess string using a pair of scissors, but remember to leave it approximately two centimeters long for next time.

Sharpen the Tip of Your Marker


What if you only want to sharpen the marker tip for thinner and cleaner lines without having to reveal more wax inside? Then, this technique might be the one you need.

There are two approaches to this:

  • Use a Knife: this method uses the same technique as the above section of the same title. However, instead of shaving off the wood, apply the technique to the inside wax of your marker.
  • Use a Crayon Sharpener: This might be unexpected but your crayon sharpener is also a great tool to sharpen your grease pencil. Use it in the same way as you would with your manual pencil sharpener. However, only a crayon sharpener is applicable in this case, don’t try to use a pencil sharpener as it may break the wax.


China markers are a stunning tool for writing and being creative. So, learning how to sharpen a china marker is important. Even though it may sound like a piece of cake, it’s a skill that requires a lot of caution and care.

I hope that you have been able to safely sharpen your China marker. Which method did you use? How was your experience? Let me know in the comment section. Please share this article with your friends so they will also have this guide up their sleeves!

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