My wife and sons asked me how to disassemble a Sharpie. They were working on a craft project and wanted to recover the ink from some dried-out markers. It wasn’t immediately obvious how to do it, but with the right tools, it’s not difficult. Here’s how to take apart a Sharpie.
Take apart a Sharpie
A Sharpie marker is four pieces, held together by friction and maybe pressure. A lot of friction. The body is two pieces of hard plastic, with an ink cartridge and a tip inside.
To take one apart to recover the ink, all you really need is two pairs of locking pliers. The body is two parts. There’s the gray part that makes up the bulk of the body, then the colored part that holds the tip. Clamp one of the pairs of pliers on the gray part, about halfway up. Remove the cap, then clamp the other pair of pliers on the colored part. To free the two parts, turn the two pairs of pliers in opposite directions. Once you get some movement, pull as you turn. The two parts separate pretty easily at that point.
The pliers are really only necessary to get a firm grip and get enough leverage. You probably can’t get a firm enough grip just with your hands, but the pliers with their serrations make it fairly easy.
With the two pieces separated, the cartridge drops right out. The tip is a little harder, but a pull with the pliers will remove that as well. Then it’s just a matter of soaking the cartridge and tip in some alcohol to recover the ink to use in craft or hobby projects. Even if the marker has dried out, there’s probably some ink left inside that soaking in alcohol will recover. Cheap rubbing alcohol is fine for this purpose.
And that’s all it takes to disassemble a Sharpie. Although they didn’t ask with model railroading in mind, I’m sure the thin, recovered ink would make a great wash with lots of weathering applications.