Picture of Altoids Tin Pocket Abacus
Make a pocket abacus from an empty Altoids tin. The original low-tech calculator, now in pocket size! Great for calculating tips in restaurants, as long as your check isn't more than  a million dollars.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Materials needed:
Empty Altoids tin
small colored beads
an awl

Optional: spray paint, craft paint

Step 2: Step one: poke holes

Picture of Step one: poke holes
This abacus will have 9 columns (9 digits). You can  calculate up to   9,999,999.99 if you use decimals, or up to  999,999,999 if you only use whole numbers.
For this you will need to poke 9 holes, to string 9 wires.

First use a sharpie marker to  mark where your holes will go.
Mark them on the long sides of the Altoids tin.
Start with the center hole (the 5th hole)
Then you can mark  4 holes to the left and 4 to the right. try to keep them evenly spaced.
Then repeat the process on the other long side, making 9 more dots with your sharpie.

Now, use the awl to poke the holes in the tin. Try to poke as small a hole as possible, so just the tip of the awl goes through.
Poke all 18 holes.

Next you will need to poke 2 holes on each of the short sides of the tin. This is for the "divider" wire which separates the Heaven beads from the Earth beads. The divider is perpendicular to the columns, and  is located about 1/4 of the  way from the top.
The distance between the top of the tin and the divider should be at least the  diameter of 3 of your beads. The  top 2 beads need room to move.
Joey Ruel made it!5 months ago
Super awesome and handy...
Made it up to 10 rows!
poofrabbit2 years ago
Oh I really like this idea and I'm brainstorming how I can bring it into my art room!
rodneybones3 years ago
Thank you for this instructable. I needed an abacus for keeping track of stitches while knitting. I didn't have an Altoid's tin, but I used a little box that a necklace came in and it turned out beautifully. I made a Japanese abacus rather than a Chinese one, though.
eclipsed (author)  rodneybones3 years ago
That turned out great!
you made me lol at the end, nice. love the idea!
Great idea! :D