Introduction: 1,000 € Pen and Pencil Case

About: My name is Britt Michelsen. I am a chemical engineer from Germany especially interested in computational fluid dynamics. To balance all the theoretical work, I like to make stuff in my free time

My brother works for the Deutsche Bundesbank, which is the central bank of Germany. When I saw a Youtube video by Zac Higgins where he turned a pen blank that contained shredded British Pounds, I knew that I wanted to make one with shredded Euros and give it to him as a Christmas present.

I also figured that reusing an old money bag as a pencil case would be the perfect addition to the shredded money pen. Linen money bags were used by the German central bank between the years 1961 and 2002 to transport money.

In this instructable I am going to show you how I made the pen as well as the pencil case.

In case you are form the US and worrying about the use of real money. The Treasury Department approves the use of shredded currency in certain circumstances. One permitted use is recycling it (mixing it with other materials) to form a useful manufactured product such as roofing shingles or insulation. In addition, the shredded currency may be placed in firmly sealed containers as novelty items like pens, ornaments and jewelry [source].

In Germany once you have gotten the money from the bank it is your property so you can do whatever you want with it, including destroying it, though of course in this instructable we are not going to destroy any money [source].


While there are money blanks with shredded dollars available online (e.g. on etsy or here). I couldn't find any with shredded Euros. So I decided to make my own blanks.

What you need to make the blanks:

  • Epoxy resin (e.g. here*)
  • Shredded money (Dollars* or Euros (you can use briquets. They contain a lot more shredded money than shredded money that is sold bags, but you will have to pick it apart, which takes some time))
  • Nitrile gloves (e.g. here*)
  • A mold (either use these*, cast your own from silicone or build one from HDPE)
  • Mixing cup (e.g. these*)
  • Mixing Sticks (e.g. these*)
  • Optional: A high precision scale (e.g. this one*)
  • Optional: A pressure pot (There are many video on youtube on how to convert pressure pots for resin casting. Take a look here)

What you need to turn the blanks:

  • Lathe
  • Woodturning Tools ** (e.g. these* with these)
  • Pen mandrel that fits you lathe (e.g. this one*)
  • Pen kit (e.g. these*)
  • Bushings (e.g. these* for slim line pens)
  • Drill bit (e.g. this one* for slim line pens)
  • Pen Jaws or a drill press
  • Pen Barrel Mill Trimmer (e.g. this one*)
  • Pen Sanding Pads (e.g. here*)
  • CA glue (e.g. this* one)
  • Saw (Band saw to cut the blanks)
  • Safety glases
  • Vice (a pen vice is nice, but a normal shop one will do)
  • Paint should you want to paint the tube

* affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

** Cured epoxy is quite a lot harder and more brittle than wood. In order to get a smooth result without chipping I suggest using negative rake carbide cutters. Negative rake refers to the cutting angle on the carbide. The cutting tool slopes away from the cutting edge at an optimal angle and is therefore much less aggressive than a standard cutter.

Step 1: Making the Blanks

I built my own mold from HDPE. The bottom is made from a 2 cm sheet and the sides from a 1 cm one. The pieces were cut with a table saw and afterwards screwed together. The mold is 130 mm x 100 mm x 40 mm. Beforehand I also made a mold from silicone with individual compartments, but I prefer this one since it is easier to fill. There is no need to make your on mold though. These will work just fine.

As you can see in pictures I used 270 g of epoxy with about 30 g of shredded money. Using more money resulted in quite a few bubbles and with less money the pens didn't look as good. Make sure to use safety glasses and nitrile gloves while handling the epoxy.

After filling the mixture in the mold I left it in a pressure pot at about 40 psi over night.

Step 2: Sawing the Blanks

Depending on the type of shredded Euros you use, the blanks are going to look quite different. As you can see in the picture I made a few pens using mainly 50 € notes and a few using mainly 100 € notes.

From one big blank you should be able to cut five pen blanks.

You might say that since one 100 € note weights about 1 g and I used 30 g of shredded bills to make five blanks, it is only a 600 € pen. But if you look closely you can see, that there are also 500 € and 200 € notes in there and to be honest "1000 € pen" just sounded better.

Step 3: Preparing the Blanks

Check the length of your pen tubes, different kits use different tube length. 130 mm are long enough for every pen kit I have gotten my hand on so far.

Cut the blanks to a size slightly lager than the brass tubes. With these pen blanks you don't have to worry about grain alignment.

Next you will have to drill a hole into the middle. I used pen jaws, but if you don't have any you can also use a drill press.

Put some super glue onto the tubes and place them into the holes you just drilled. I didn't use sandpaper to scruff the tubes for better bonding, since the tube can later be seen through the blanks in a few places and I wanted them to look shiny. If you don't like the brass look of the tubes, you might want to consider painting them.

Afterwards remove the excess epoxy with a pen barrel mill trimmer.

Step 4: Turning the Pen

Now it is finally time to turn the pen. WARNING: using a lathe is dangerous. Make sure to take all necessary safety precautions. Please read this site before starting.

Place the pen blanks with the correct sized bushings onto you mandrel and into your lathe.

Position the tool rest as close as you can to the blanks without touching it. Rotate the blank by hand to make sure that the tool rest isn't going to catch on anything.

Start by using a negative rake carbide cutter rougher. Actually a rougher is all you need, but I also used a finisher, since it gives you more control.

Simply make sure that the cutter contacts the blank at center. The tool has to be parallel to the ground. Move the tool from side to side and remove all the edges until the blanks are round. Make sure that the tool is level.

You should be able to move your tool rest closer. Now turn the blank into shape. Remove material until the ends of the blanks have the same diameter as your bushings.

Small imperfections due to bubbles can be filled with CA glue.

Step 5: Smoothing the Surface

Smoothing the pen is quite easy. Simply work your way through the different sanding pad grids. Make sure to keep them wet.

Afterwards you can polish your pen blanks with a polishing paste.

Remove the blanks from your lathe and finish the ends of the blanks with 1500 grit sandpaper.

Step 6: Assemble the Pen

Now all that is left to do is to assemble the pen. Check the instruction that comes with your kit for the correct assembly order.

As you can see in the pictures, I don't own a pen vice, but a normal shop one will work just as well.

Congratulation, you are done.

Step 7: What You Need for the Pencil Case

You don't really need an embroidery machine to make a pencil case. There is an awesome instructable by jessyratfink, should you not have one, but I decided to use this instructable to show you how to make one with an embroidery machine.

Making the pouch might seem a bit tricky looking at the steps, but I promise you, it is actually quite easy.

To make the machine embroidered pencil case you will need the following things:

  • Embroidery machine (The embroidery are has to be at least 196 x 100 mm (7.7 x 3.9 inch))
  • Tear Away Embroidery Stabilizer (e.g. here*)
  • Old money bag (I got mine on ebay; You will need at least the size "C"**)
  • Fabric (for lining the pencil case); You will need three pieces: 7 cm x 22 cm twice and 12 x 22 cm once
  • Embroidery Thread
  • Tape (I used masking tape*)
  • Zipper (about 23 cm long (a nine inch one should work))

* affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

**The money bags show the year they were used (e.g. 10.89 from October 1989) as well as their size (e.g. C) and the name "Deutsche Bundebank".

Start by hooping the stabilizer and run the first two stitches. The first stitch shows you the placement line of the bag and the second stitch shows you the placement line for the zipper. Since I used a beige thread it was hard to see in the pictures. I marked the lines red in the picture so that you can see them.

Step 8: Attaching the Zipper

I got an endless zipper and therefore the first thing I had to do was to attach the slider. An easy way to do this is by cutting away the first few teeth on one side, then placing the slider onto the other side. Afterwards you will have to hold both end down and place the slider onto the end where you cut the teeths away. Now you should be able to pull the slider up.

You have to lift your embroidery foot quite a lot since it is going to move over the zipper and if you are going to leave it at the standard height of 1.5 mm (about 0.06 inch) it is going to catch on it.

Close the zipper and place it between the two lines in the middle. Use tape to hold it in place, as shown in the last picture of this step.

Place your hoop back into your embroidery machine and run the third stitch.

Step 9: Using the Money Bag

In order to use the money bag, you will have to cut it apart. I tried picking the seam, but it was not worth the effort and even if you cut next to the seam, the pieces should be big enough.

You will need two pieces with an area of about 7 cm x 22 cm and one with an area of 12 x 22 cm. Feel free to use the text however you want. I decided to highlight the "Deutsche Bundesbank" text by placing it underneath the zipper.

Before you start, check your bag for defects. Since they are used, there might be small holes in them. So make sure that you have enough fabric for all three pieces.

As you can see in the third picture I cut about two centimeters above the text to get a nice placement later on. Since the text wasn't centered very well on the bag I marked two lines that would help me place the piece of linen later on. The distance between the line ist 19 cm.

I used the fabric above the "Deutsche Bundesbank" text for the back of the pencil case to make it more interesting by displaying the letter "C". As said before, the piece for back needs to be about 12 x 22 cm.

After cutting all the pieces, we are ready to move on.

Step 10: Attaching the Fabrics

Now we are going to attach the pieces of fabric.

Place the first piece of the 7 cm x 22 cm linen onto the zipper, as shown in the first picture. The piece is going to be folded over later on, so the pattern side has to lie face down onto your stabilizer. This didn't matter in my case since I used a plain piece of linen from the bag and the "wrong" and "right" side of the fabric looked the same.

Now turn your embroidery hoop over and attach a 7 cm x 22 cm piece of your lining fabric onto it. It also has to be placed with the pattern side facing the stabilizer. Use tape to hold it in place. The piece of linen and the pieces of lining fabric have to lie on top of with other, with the stabilizer in between. You don't actually need tape to hold the linen piece in place, but wanted to make sure that nothing was able to move.

Place the embroidery hoop back into your machine and run the next stitch. You can see how it looks like in the third picture.

Once the stitch is done, fold the linen fabric over the stitch and tape it in place, as shown in the fourth picture.

Repeat this process with the lining fabric on the back of you embroidery hoop.

Step 11: Moving On

Now run the next stitch. This is actually the only time your bobbin thread can later be seen. It will be visible on the inside of your bag next to the zipper. So you might want to consider this in your bobbing thread colour choice.

We are going to repeat what we have done in the last step and lay another piece of the 7 cm x 22 cm linen onto the first piece you just folded over as shown in the second picture. This time I used the piece that says "Deutsche Bundesbank". The text has to face the stabilizer. As you can see I made sure that the lines I drew before hand (because the text wasn't aligned properly on the original bag) were placed onto the stitches we just did. Once again, turn the embroidery hoop over and use tape to secure an other piece of the 7 cm x 22 cm lining fabric onto it as shown in the last picture.

Run the next stitch.

Step 12: Finishing the Front

You can see how the stitch you just did looks like in the first picture. Once again you will have to fold both pieces of fabric over and hold them in place with tape. As you can see I used quite a lot of tape which is not necessary, but I wanted to make sure that everything stays in place and due to being used the linen wasn't perfectly straight.

Run the next stitch. You can see how it looks like in the third picture.

Now is the time should you want to add any other embroidery to your bag. There is none included in the file I provided, but this shouldn't stop you.

Next you will have to move the zipper, as shown in the last picture. Make sure that the teeth are still lying next to each other.

Step 13: Attaching the Back

Next we are going to attach the back to the bag. Take your 12 x 22 cm piece of linen and place it over what we have done so far (pattern side down). Once again I used tape, even though it is not really necessary, but I wanted to make sure that everything stays in place and the linen wasn't perfectly straight.

Run the next stitch. You can see how it looks like in the second picture.

Take the hoop out of your embroidery machine and turn it over. Now place your 12 x 22 cm piece of lining fabric onto the other pieces of lining fabric. Attach it with tape, place the hoop back into your embroidery machine and run the last stitch.

Step 14: Finishing the Bag

Unhoop your bag and cut off the excess fabric, as shown in the first two pictures of this step.

Next pull the bag through the opening in the stitching. Remove the stabilizer from the zipper and use a slip stitch to close the seam.

All that is left to do is to pull the bag through the zipper and you are done.

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