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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've never actually run into this dilemma before, but I need to finish a board with something that will allow me to write on it with a sharpie(and still be permanent).

My son's turning 1 in a couple weeks and my wife wants an oversized ruler to trace his hand on and mark his height on every year. This is a very simple project, but I was "over ruled" when I suggested I just leave the wood unfinished. I need some sort of finish for it that can be written on with a sharpie.

Since I typically don't write on my projects with a sharpie after, or before, finishing, I'm not sure what would be my best option for keeping that yearly height measurements.

Any ideas for a finish? I'm going shopping for a board tomorrow, and it will likely be maple, or some other light colored wood.

example of what I'm doing: http://img0.etsystatic.com/002/0/6649419/il_fullxfull.364808594_gvct.jpg?ref=l2
 

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Any finish you want to use would work. If you don't stain the wood first you probably should use a finish that isn't prone to yellow. Most oil based finishes will yellow as they age as well as commonly found lacquers (nitrocellulose). If the yellowing is an issue you might put a coat of sealcoat shellac on the wood and topcoat with a water based polyurethane. Any clear finish that says it's acrylic will remain clear. A cab-acrylic lacquer as well as a pre-cat lacquer will also remain clear. Any automotive clear coat will remain clear but they sometimes crack used on wood. One nice point in using lacquers is some day when you are done with it you can spray a coat of lacquer over the top of the sharpie to make it more permanent. Other finishes may require a scuff sand to get a good bond but lacquer will melt into the old finish.
 

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Permanent Magic Markers uses alcohol as their solvent. Alcohol is also the solvent for shellac. Use an alcohol based marker will cause damage to the shellac and you will be left with a crinkled area under the marker.

I would suggest you use an oil based gloss paint. I further suggest that you test Magic Markers on a sample board coated with oil based paint.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the tip on sharpies having alcohol in them, so I think that will rule out shellac for this one.

As far as stain, the only stain going on the board is to mark out the tick marks for the ruler(blue painters tape + exacto knife + a dark gel stain) which went on tonight. The ruler in my example pic is way too dark for what I'm aiming for.

I like the lacquer idea and might go with that. I also did a test board with BLO tonight and will see if that passes inspection from the boss. If a little BLO gives it enough of a "finished" look for her I figure that would allow the marker to soak into the wood for a permanent bond, and I could always lacquer over it in 20 years or so too :) Though I'm pretty sure the BLO will yellow with age too :(
 

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>>>> I like the lacquer idea and might go with that.

I believe alcohol is a a solvent for waterborne finishes and Magic Markers may not be compatible with a waterborne finish. I'm on the road so I can't check my files. I suggest you test out Magic Markers on any finish you use for an undercoat.
 
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