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The Cross Ion is the finest writing implement I've ever owned. The Cross gel ink refills, however, not so much. They are considerably overpriced and to add insult to injury, they tend to stop writing after a few weeks.

This Instructable is a variation on the one submitted by computercolin. His was a great idea that I implemented slightly differently and I wanted to share.

Step 1: Gather Materials

The materials I used in this project included:

knife
Staples gel ink mini pens
an empty (or as empty as possible) Cross refill

not pictured:
tack (for punching a small hole)
a sink
rubbing alcohol
paper towels

Step 2: Disassemble Mini Refill

Disassemble the gel ink mini pen. There are two items we are interested in: the pen insert and the end cap.

The rest of the pen, I'm setting aside to make an iPod Touch stylus.

Step 3: Prepare Mini Refill

The mini refill is slightly too long for our needs. I lopped the end off of it with the knife.

Step 4: End Cap

There needs to be a vent hole for the ink to flow. I punched mine in the end cap.

Step 5: Prepare the Widener

We are going to use an empty ink refill to act as a widener, otherwise the spring won't retract the pen when you close it.

THIS STEP WILL BE MESSY!

However, you are only going to ever need to do this once.

It is important to find an almost empty refill for this because we are going to dump the ink out of it. You don't want to have to deal with more ink than necessary.

It CAN be done with minimal mess. I was wearing dress clothes when I did it and didn't get a drop on me (although the janitorial staff may wonder why they can't get the stain out of the sink in the men's bathroom).

1. Pop the end cap off.

2. Cut around the ridge where it narrows down, thus cutting the ballpoint tip off of the plastic well.

3. Once you've cut all the way through, put it on a paper towel and let gravity and capillary action take the ink out as much as possible. Be patient. You can try to rush it by running water into the back end, but do it slowly. You don't want to splash. DO NOT turn the pen upside-down and pour water into the narrow end (this caused considerable splashing of ink). Note even the clear gel stains.

4. When you've almost got all of it, roll up a snake of paper towel and push it through the inside to clean the last of the ink out.

5. Use rubbing alcohol to clean up messes and to get the last of the ink out. (optional)

Step 6: Widen the Opening

Depending on how your cut went, this may be an optional step. When I did it, the hole didn't quite accept the mini pen insert. I just bored out the hole with the knife slightly. It didn't take much.

Step 7: Insert Pen

Time to put it all together.

Slide the refill into the widener. It should be snug.

Pop the ventilated cap on the other end. You may need to grab it by the ballpoint end and wiggle it around to center it. (Here is where the Cross caps from their refills come in. I put them on so I can grab the ballpoint end without writing all over myself. Not that it matters since I'm covered in ink having just cut open a refill, but the next time, it will be much neater).

Step 8: Success!

The shape of the refill is now exactly the same as a branded Cross refill. You can reuse the widener and the end cap the next time the ink runs out. Just cut off the end of another Staples insert.

You cannot see through the Ion window how much ink is left, but that isn't such a big deal to me since that was never an accurate indicator of how much longer my pen was going to last anyway.

Thanks again to computercolin for pointing the way and showing me how to continue to use my favorite pen while not wasting money on bad ink.
This is a great Instructable, but you need to add a main image of the final project to the intro step. Please do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks!
Nicely done, will definitely get my hands dirty with this variation.
Will do. My camera batteries died while I was doing this. It wasn't allowing me to use the screen to check my framing and I didn't get everything I was planning to shoot.
Turned out good in the end though. L
Thanks. This was my first Instructable and I really liked creating it. The thing is, if I take the time to plan out my photos, and how to explain it in clear steps ahead of time, it forces me to think my craft project through in a way that I'm unlikely to make a foolish mistake.

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Bio: The thing I like about making Instructables is that it forces me to slow down and consider each step without taking anything for granted. If ... More »
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