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The Best Markers and Pencils for Marking Steel



The Voice: Hey, Kevin. Playing pick-up sticks?

Kevin Caron: No, I'm preparing to mark some stainless steel for a contemporary art sculpture I'm working on here in the studio. I need to make a mark that I can follow with a plasma cutter, or the oxygen-acetylene torch.

Soapstone has been a favorite metal marker for years; everybody uses that when they're working with steel. But the point always gets dull quickly, and if you happen to wipe across your mark with your glove, or hit it with your arm, that mark is gone. You can easily lose the mark from soapstone; however, there are other options out there that we can look at in today's video on working with metal.

For starters, there's the good old Sharpie. Who doesn't love the smell of a Sharpie in the morning? Sharpies come in many different colors, but the problem with a Sharpie is that the tip gets full of the grit, dirt and grease and then it doesn't work anymore.

These are markers for steel. They have something like paint inside, with a little rattle ball that you shake like a spray can. And if you pump it just a little, you can pump the paint right up into the marker itself. This marker will help for really broad or crude marks. It doesn't give you that fine line that you want when you're going to make a cut, where you need to be on this side right up against that line.

This marker is going to give me the piece exactly the size that I need it to, rather than cutting right up the middle of a broad mark and hope for the best. That doesn't work.

This is actually a wax pencil. They use it for making vinyl signs; they use these to mark on the signs when they're going to lay things out or make a cut.
Maybe in cooler climates this will work a little better; here in Arizona, they'll work fine now because it's only about 55 degrees in here today.

It makes a nice, sharp line and it's not quite as easy to wipe off as soapstone. But look down here. As long as you use this straight up-and-down, you're fine, but the minute you get sideways with it, the tip will break right off. It's too soft for here. During the summer, I don't use them because they're so soft you can just squish them. And don't use it on a piece of hot steel, because they melt.

This is something I just found. Some of you guys who watch my YouTube videos probably know all about these. These are Red-Riter welders' pencils, and Silver Streak welders' pencils. Yeah, they're red and silver, but they're more like a regular pencil. They're hard like graphite and don't wear down as fast as the wax does. You can sharpen them in a regular pencil sharpener and carry them in your pocket.

The red one creates a real sharp, crisp line. This is better for aluminum or stainless, because the red will show up better. Let's try the silver one. . . Hey, now, that's a pretty good line. And the great thing about these? They don't wipe off.

When you look at these with the plasma cutter, and you light the plasma cutter, this line will just about glow. It shows up nice in the light from the plasma cutter, or from the oxygen acetylene, so you can easily follow the line.

I found these over at Pipefitters.com. You can find them anywhere online. Just look for Markal, Silver Streak, or Red-Riter. Or, just go to Pipefitter.com and look for them there. That was the best price on the Internet that I could find.

Just another helpful thing to keep in your tool box, to give you good lines to work with. Good markers make for less waste, and make your life a little bit easier. We're all for that.

See you next time.

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