This is my favorite type of eraser. It can be molded into any shape to erase even the tiniest detail in a drawing – you just need to dab and lift. No rubbing required.
Kneaded erasers are quite affordable, but since we’re all in Covid-19 lockdown right now, you may not even be able to buy one. So here’s how you can make it yourself, out of tools that you can probably find around your house.
You can make a kneaded eraser out of pretty much any solid eraser that you have, even the one on the end of a pencil, just by rubbing it on a piece of paper to create crumbs and then kneading the crumbs together into a putty.
Make sure you knead the putty very well until it becomes one single piece that can be molded into different shapes.
But the results will be varied because some erasers just crumble instead of stick together no matter how hard you work it. But don’t worry, I will show you how to fix that!
I tested a total of 10 different erasers and they can all be turned into putty/kneaded erasers, some work better than others, though.
This white Paper Mate eraser (pictured below) was immediately usable after just a few seconds of kneading. It became a perfect eraser putty that held its shape well no matter how I molded it. If you also experience that with your eraser, you’re good to go! You can skip straight to the section titled “Extra Tips for Making a Kneaded Eraser”. If that’s not your experience, please continue reading…
How to Make Eraser Putty from a Super Crumbly Eraser
If your eraser is super crumbly no matter how much you knead the crumbs together, we can still make it work. We just need to add a few more steps to the process.
All you have to do is add something sticky to make the crumbs stay together. The best way to do this is to rub your eraser along the sticky side of masking tape, painter’s tape, or the sticky part of a sticky note.
Just rub your eraser along the sticky side until the sticky stuff or adhesive comes off and is incorporated into the eraser crumbs. This works well with tape that isn’t too sticky. Masking tape works perfectly. I wouldn’t use duct tape for this.
If the consistency is way too sticky for your liking, you can always add some dry eraser crumbs until the consistency is just right for you. A test that I like to do, is to see if I can easily roll the putty to a point and also flatten it down without it changing shape or crumbling.
If you don’t have any tape, just go around the house looking for stickers that are easy to peel off like barcodes or labels that you don’t need. Some water bottles will have adhesive under the label!
I would not recommend using liquid school glue because once the glue dries, the eraser becomes totally solid and unusable. Glue sticks on the other hand will work okay, but it’s not as sticky as I’d like it to be.
If your crumbs DO stick together when you work them between your fingers, but the putty isn’t quite soft enough for your preference or it’s a little crumbly, you can either…
Use tape adhesive to make it softer.
Just rub your eraser along the adhesive a few times and then gather the softer putty and mix it with the hard or crumbly one.
Keep doing this until it’s soft enough for you. Here’s a comparison between a piece of putty before and after adding the adhesive. As you can see, it fixed our crumbly issue and it’s more pliable and more putty-like now.
The other solution is to try erasing a bunch of pencil scribble marks and then kneading your eraser to incorporate that graphite into it.
After a while, this will help the putty become softer, more pliable, and more effective at erasing.
It’s normal for the putty to become grey, as it takes on the color of the graphite particles. This is also how you can break in a brand new store-bought kneaded eraser.
Now, every eraser and adhesive will give you different results, so experiment with your own recipe to come up with something that works for you. Keep in mind that the more you erase with your newly made putty, the more effective and pliable it will become.
I prefer a fairly sticky eraser because it can easily pick up graphite with just the slightest touch, so I can work on very detailed areas of a drawing. Keep tweaking your eraser recipe and testing how well it can erase until you’re satisfied. Do keep in mind that some erasers work a lot better than others at picking up graphite. So I’d recommend trying this with a few different types of erasers.
What type of Solid Eraser Works Best?
I was able to convert ALL the erasers that I tested into actual working kneadable erasers.
Some worked perfectly right after I kneaded them, others required different amounts of adhesive added to them because they were either not soft enough, not sticky enough, or they were too crumbly to begin with.
Even extremely crumbly erasers like the Pink Pearl can be converted into a kneadable eraser.
The ones that I found worked best were these:
In putty form, they’re able to hold their shape when molded and pick up graphite easily using the dabbing technique.
Here are my RESULTS with each eraser that I tested:
Notes: I judge how good each eraser is by how well it erases (how many dabs it takes to erase something), how well it holds its shape when I mold it/when I use it to erase something. Erasers ranked as mediocre are still viable, they’re just less effective to work with (eg: it may require more effort to erase with)
1. Sakura Latex-Free, Non-PVC Eraser
Quick to knead. Doesn’t require adhesive. Makes a great kneaded eraser.
2. PaperMate PVC-Free Eraser
Quick to knead. Doesn’t need any adhesive. Makes a great kneaded eraser.
3. Tombow Mono Plastic Eraser
Quick to knead. Somewhat crumbly. Needs some adhesive or graphite to soften it up. Makes a great kneaded eraser. Will become stiff when it cools back down from the warmth of your fingers, so it requires kneading before use. You can use this to your advantage, though – using it as both a solid eraser and putty eraser. It can hold its shape extremely well for erasing the tiniest areas.
4. Pentel Hi-Polymer Eraser
Quick to knead. Somewhat crumbly putty. Needs some adhesive to fix crumbliness. Makes a good kneaded eraser.
5. Dixon HB Pencil from dollarstore, latex-free
Takes some effort to knead. Not crumbly, but feels drier than all the solid erasers listed above. Works better without adhesive, but it is quite stiff. Makes a good kneaded eraser after you mix it with some graphite.
6. Random white eraser from an old pencil case.
I probably haven’t used it in like 12 years (It was so stiff that it didn’t even feel like rubber. It still worked anyway. I was able to quickly form it into a putty without any adhesive. Makes a good kneaded eraser.
7 & 8. Paw Patrol Erasers from dollarstore
Quick to knead. Crumbly putty. Needs some adhesive. Makes a good kneaded eraser.
9. PaperMate Pink Pearl Latex/PVC-Free Eraser
Extremely crumbly. Needs a lot of adhesive to become putty. Makes a mediocre kneaded eraser because I need to dab many times to erase.
10. Studio HB Pencil from the dollar store
Extremely crumbly. Needs a lot of adhesive to become putty. Makes a mediocre kneaded eraser because it requires so much adhesive, that it becomes difficult to mold into certain shapes without sticking to my fingers. If you don’t need it to erase hairline marks, it will do a good job.
Extra Tips for Making a Kneaded Eraser
As you erase more and more (incorporate more graphite into your putty), it will become softer and more effective at erasing. That’s a good way to soften a stiff piece of putty without having to add any adhesive. It’s also a good way to break in a brand new store-bought kneaded eraser. It’s normal for the putty to turn grey, as it takes on the color of the graphite particles.
The more eraser crumbs you make, the bigger your eraser will be, of course, but it’ll take hours and a lot of hard work to turn a large eraser like this into a big pile of crumbs. A safe way you can speed up the process is by using a more textured surface to rub your eraser on. Here, I’m using the side of my textured mechanical pencil:
I’ve been asked many times if a cheese grater can be used. While you can use one, it can be very dangerous, so I don’t recommend that.
And that’s how you can make a kneaded eraser at home! Which by the way is my favorite type of eraser. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If ya did, please share it with your friends and leave a comment down below to let me know your results!
Darlene created RFA In 2013 with the goal of sharing simple yet detailed drawing tutorials with other artists on the world wide web. She is a self taught pencil portrait artist and Youtuber.