How to Fix an Etch A Sketch

By Daniel Nash

Children have been playing with the popular Etch A Sketch since 1960, and in 2003 it was included on the Toy Industry Association's Century of Toys list. The Etch a Sketch, made by Ohio Art, is essentially a machine that makes temporary art. The user manipulates two knobs connected to wires that move a magnetic stylus horizontally and vertically to draw aluminum filings to the surface of a screen. If the filings won't pick up or the knobs stick, it can be a frustrating impediment. Some standard tools will help you fix it.

Gently pull the knobs of the Etch A Sketch. Leverage the red front panel off the device with the screwdriver. Set the panel and knobs off to the side. Pull out the blade on your pocket knife and cut away at the hot glue around the plastic veneer over the inner workings of the device.

Check the knob assemblies for debris obstructions that could keep them from moving properly. Examine the wires that connect to the knobs and stylus to make sure they're not bent or broken. Check the back plate for leaks and shake the plate to drop the aluminum filings to the bottom.

Obtain new wires or aluminum filings if needed. Refill aluminum filings by cutting off a portion of one end of the straw and pinching it into the leak hole. Place a funnel onto the other end and pour in the aluminum filings a bit at a time. Patch the leak with a dab of hot glue. Hot glue the plastic veneer back onto the toy assembly, snap the red frame and knobs back on. Test the device to make sure it works.

Things You Will Need

  • Precision flat blade screwdriver
  • Pocket knife
  • Hot glue gun
  • Small funnel
  • Straw
  • Replacement wires (if needed)
  • Replacement aluminum filings (if needed)

About the Author

Daniel Nash entered journalism in 2007. His work appears in the "Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald" and the "Enumclaw Courier-Herald." During college, he co-produced a magazine with journalism students from Moscow State University in Russia. Nash graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Washington, Tacoma.