Introduction: Fit a Parker Refill to a Cheap Pen

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to…

I have come to like Parker Gel Refills. They fit any pen that uses Parker refills.

The pen in the photo cost $1 in a museum gift shop. I like it because it has a soft capacitive stylus. Just retract the refill and use the stylus on the screen of a phone or tablet.

I want to fit a Parker refill to this pen. It originally used a much different refill. That refill has begun to dry out and it takes a little effort to make it write smoothly.


  • Medium finish nail
  • 3/16 inch steel rod
  • Cellophane tape or glue
  • Parker cartridge (ballpoint or gel)


  • Digital caliper
  • Hacksaw
  • File
  • Drill

Step 1: The Parts

Notice the text boxes in the photo. You can see two refills: the original style refill common in ballpoint pens since the 1950s, but not as easy to find in stores as a few decades ago, and a Parker Gel refill. The Parker refill is a little shorter than the original refill. It will be necessary to lengthen the white plastic retractor piece.

Step 2: Ream Out the Stylus Fitting

The ball end of the Parker refill is a few thousandths of an inch larger in diameter than the original refill. My best choice was to use a twist drill just a little too small and press the stylus fitting against it while the drill ran. I had to let the stylus piece turn a bit more slowly so the reaming would be fairly even. I stopped reaming when the stylus fitting moved freely over the end of the Parker refill without hanging up.

Step 3: Finish Nail Extension

A medium-size finish nail fits into the plastic retractor piece. Compare the first and second photos. The second photo shows a comparison of the lengths of the two refills. I determined the difference in length between the two refills is 0.351 inch. I inserted the finish nail and cut it. Because the original refill fits into the retractor piece about 0.30 inch I had to adjust the length of the finish nail piece. I cut a little oversize and used a fine file to fit the length I need.

Step 4: Making It Work

I thought I would need only the finish nail to make up the difference in length between the two refills. But, now and then the finish nail extension slipped off to the side between the sidewall of the pen and a flute in the back end of the Parker refill. I needed to widen the working end of the finish nail. I used a piece of steel rod drilled to fit over the finish nail. Rod could be up to 1/4 inch in diameter. I tried 3/16 inch rod as a guess. The rod simply may not be larger in diameter than the diameter of the Parker refill.

Step 5: Assemble and Use

Insert the white retractor piece and the finish nail extension with the rod piece into the pen barrel. The rod piece is like a little cup. To keep it in place I wrapped some cellophane tape around the finish nail until the little cup fit snugly on the finish nail. (It might work to skip the finish nail and simply use a 1/4 inch rod piece to fit between the refill end and the retractor piece.)

My pen stuck a couple of times when I first worked the retracting mechanism, but seems to be fool proof and responsive after a little use. Now I have a pen that does not dry out like the original refill has done since I bought the pen, writes almost as smoothly as a fountain pen because of its gel refill, and makes a very good stylus for inputting text and commands into a phone or a tablet.