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How to Sharpen a China Marker?

how to sharpen a china marker

China markers, also called wax pencils, have been around for quite some time now. However, not all people are aware that these writing tools exist. So, when they get their hands on one of these pencils, the first thing that they think of is how to sharpen a China marker.

If this is your first time seeing a China marker, you would be thinking the same thing because it does not look like your ordinary pencil. China markers barely resemble ordinary pencils. They even weigh considerably less compared to wooden pencils despite their bigger size.

Also, these pencils have thicker leads. Speaking of the leads, this article will teach you how to properly sharpen this pencil and maybe a bit more.

Step-by-step Guide on Sharpening a China Marker

Sharpening the Regular Way

Traditional China markers consist of a thick wax-based colored lead tightly wrapped with perforated paper. It is also surprisingly easy to sharpen. You do not even need a lot of tools to do it.

What to Prepare:

  • Unsharpened China Marker
  • Hobby knife (optional)


Step 1 – Grasp the China marker firmly. You will need to hold the wax pencil firmly in one hand. Make sure to hold the round barrel in place securely.

sharpening paper-wrapped

Step 2 – Hold the string between the fingers of your other hand. You may have noticed that there is a bit of string sticking out of one end of the China marker. Hold it in between two fingers of your other hand.

Step 3 – Gently pull the string down the China marker. That bit of string is what you will be using to sharpen the marker. Just pinch it tightly between two fingers of your other hand and slowly pull it down. Stop once you ripped up until the perforation line.

Step 4 – Peel the paper covering. After you ripped through the covering, gently peel off the loose bit of paper. Be careful not to peel off the next layer of paper. Pull off the loose bit of paper gently. Follow the perforated line until it falls off on its own.

unwrapping the paper wrapping

Step 5 – Sharpen the exposed lead, if needed. After you peel off the outer casing, it will expose a bit of the lead.

sharpen the china marker

If you need to, you can sharpen it further using a sharp paring knife, a hobby knife, or a box cutter.

peel the paper off the china marker

Sharpening Using a Regular Pencil Sharpener

What to Prepare:

  • Unsharpened China marker
  • Ample-sized pencil sharpener
  • Hobby knife (optional)

Not all China markers have paper casings. Some come encased in softwood, like a regular pencil. This means you can sharpen it the usual way.


Step 1 – Get a pencil sharpener that is large enough for the China marker. China markers are typically thicker compared to regular pencils, so you should get a sharpener that is large enough to handle it.

Step 2 – Insert the China marker into the sharpener and gently twist it. However, when twisting the pencil, you need to be very careful as the leads of China markers are quite soft and fragile. It is advisable to stop once you expose enough of the lead.

Step 3 – Sharpen the lead to a point, if needed. If you do need to have a sharp point on your China pencil, you can do so by whittling the lead until it is sharp enough using a hobby knife. Be careful not to sharpen the point too much, though, as it will make it break much easier.

What To Do If the String Gets Broken?

What to Prepare:

  • Unsharpened China marker
  • Hobby knife, box cutter, or similar

There are times when people accidentally pull the string out of the China marker. This usually happens on pencils that are a bit old. If this happens, don’t worry. You can still sharpen it.


Step 1 – Get a sharp knife or blade. If you have a hobby knife, then that would be ideal. You will need a blade that is sharp enough to cut through one layer of the paper covering of the marker. Using a blunt blade may rip through too much of the paper cover.

Step 2 – Gently cut through the paper covering. Hold the China marker down on a flat surface and make sure that it will not roll off accidentally. Cut through the outer layer of the paper covering slowly, making sure that you do not push down on the blade too much. Cut up until the perforated line on the casing.

Step 3 – Gently peel away the loose paper. After cutting the perforated line, lift the outer layer of the covering using the blade. You should then unwrap it from the body of the pencil. Make sure that you follow the perforation.

Step 4 – Sharpen the exposed lead if needed. Now that you have exposed enough of the wax lead of the pencil, you can use it as is. You may also whittle it down to a sharp point if you need to. Be careful when sharpening the lead as it is quite soft and fragile.


These are some of the most common and easiest ways to sharpen all kinds of China markers, even pencils that had their strings broken or pulled out.

Now that you know how to sharpen a China marker properly, you can start using it with confidence. China markers are quite versatile, so you will always find a purpose for them.