Introduction: Magic Writing Quill
I love magnets, and this toy is more of a magnet trick than a magic trick (ugh). It’s an easy couple of minute project, once you collect the materials. There are just a few parts: magnets (two kinds), miniature ball point pen inserts, heat shrink tubing, and of course, feathers.
These rod magnets are pretty strong, but it still takes about four of them to hold the feather firm enough against a notepad to leave a trail of ink. The magnets I used don't appear to be available, but there are some that appear to be similar. Look for magnets that are 5mm by 10mm, I used four of these. The length, probably isn't that critical, you can always stack more magnets, but the width is important. I tried 4mm diameter rod magnets and they didn't have enough surface area to hold the feather upright, even after I stacked on more magnets.
The under magnets are strong refrigerator magnets (purported to hold fifty pounds) with hooks on them. I couldn't find the exact magnets that I used, but these are similar. These types of magnets are also available with a counter-sunk screw that you can use to attach them to a drawer pull to make a more attractive knob to hold onto the bottom magnet.
The ball point pen inserts are available in a variety of colors. They’re for mini-pocket pens; the barrel is very small diameter and only about three inches long. Some of the colors I ordered worked better than others.
I bought a couple of sizes of heat shrink tubing, but mostly I was able to use the quarter-inch diameter stuff. They make the tubing in a couple of different shrink-ratios (I think either will work), and it’s also available with adhesive inside. If I buy more of this, I will definitely get the stuff with the adhesive.
Feathers are whatever strikes your fancy. Just remember that the longer the feather, the more magnets you will need to keep it upright. I like the sixteen-inch ostrich feathers sold by the dozen on line.
You will also need a pair of scissors to cut the shrink wrap tubing to length, and a source of heat to shrink the tubing. Also, you’ll need a pad of paper for testing.
Heat Shrink Tubing
Step 1: Cut a Three-inch Length of Heat Shrink Tubing
The pen inserts are actually 2 3/4-inches long, and you want the heat shrink tubing to cover the upper end to make sure the pen doesn't creep out of its sleeve.
This tubing comes in six-inch lengths, so just cut one in half.
Note that I've shown some smaller magnets along side the 5mm diameter magnets. These are just shown for comparison purposes. The smaller diameter magnets will not work.
Think about whether the feathers that you're buying will fit inside the heat shrink tubing along with the magnets and the ball point pen refill. The quarter-inch diameter heat shrink tubing that I'm using works with almost all the feathers that I purchased. But larger feathers won't fit unless you can slide the magnets up inside the feather.
Step 2: Trim the Feather
You need to trim the feather back far enough that it won’t interfere with the pen anchoring tightly when the tubing shrinks. I just peeled back some of the feather.
Save the feather parts that you remove. They will be used in a future instructable that I'm working on.
Step 4: Orient the Magnets
Arrange the rod magnets and the refrigerator magnet so they pull together.
They need to pull together for the feather to work.
Step 5: Assemble the Quill Parts
Slide the feather, pen, and rod magnets inside the shrink wrap tubing. This is the most critical part, you want to pen point to extend a tiny bit past the end of the bar magnets, so it will drag on the page. The best way to do this is to shrink the tubing a bit, till it holds the magnets and pen, then test and make adjustments before shrinking fully.
Step 6: Shrink the Tubing
Apply heat to the shrink wrap tubing to shrink it tight. I'm using a heat gun, but a lighter or other heat source will also work, as long as you are careful not to singe the feather.
Step 7: Test and Adjust
Test and adjust the pen before the heat shrink tubing cools too much.
Step 8: Wrapping the Magic Writing Quill
These feathers are pretty fragile, so I store them in a cardboard tube (like a wrapping paper tube), and tape a piece of paper over one end. Slide the feather into the tube, and hold it there with the refrigerator magnet on the outside end of the tube.
At home, you can just stick the quill to the top of the refrigerator magnet.
Step 9: Feather It Up
Try some other types of feathers: pheasant, peacock, turkey. Be aware that large feathers may not fit in the quarter-inch heat shrink tubing, along with the magnets and ball point pen refill. If you're using bigger feathers buy larger diameter tubing.