Introduction: Turning a Compact Metal Pen

About: Studying Industrial Design in the Netherlands - started a design studio with a couple friends - enjoying my time in the workshop

I started to carry a notebook with me all the time about 3 weeks ago and thusfar I used it every day. From grocerie lists to drawing on the train. The only thing that bothered me the most was carrying a fullsize pen or pencil with me all the time. I began to look into small EDC pens such as the Fischer Space Pen Bullit, but I was not going to pay 30 euro's for a pen.

So I decided to make my own compact EDC pen. This way I will even get more satisfaction using it and I save quite a bit of money.

I works quite good for me right now, but there are some changes I would make when I make another one. I will explain these in the last step. So make sure you read those before you start fabricating it.

Step 1: Design

The design I came up with is pretty easy to fabricate if you've a metal lathe available.I also tried to make it from materials that are widely available, cheap and relatively easy to machine.

Because of the long cap you get a fullsize pen, but when you close it it stays very compact. A key ring makes sure you can hang it with your other EDC items such as multitools and flashlights.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials and Tools


Sacrificial pen (I used a BIC pen where the filling is a friction fit, that made things a lot easier)

M10 carrier bolt or stud (I used stainless)

Stainless tubing with a inner diameter of 8mm

Piece of a metal rod (I used aluminium, but you also could use other metal)

Key ring


Metal lathe

M10 tap

Drill bit corresponding with the diameter of your pen filling

A file


A vise

A drill(press) with a bit

Step 3: Turn the Pen

In this step I'll explain how to fabricate the pen part. It consists of a couple actions.

First you need to fix the carrier bolt or stud in the chuck of your lathe. Make sure you don't clamp the stud or carrier bolt on the threads you want to use in the end because it will mess up your threads. Then turn it down to a diameter that will fit in the stainless tubing you selected over a length of about 65 mmm. You can adapt this measurement if you want other dimentions. Make sure you adapt the cap with it.

After this you have to change you tailstock to a drill chuck and drill a hole corresponding with the diameter off the filling of the pen. The hole is 70 mm deep.

At this point you can shape the tip of your pen. I used the same angle as the tip of the filling. You can use a file for this if you can't do this on your lathe.

The other sanding and polishing follows now.

Now the pen is pretty much done, you can use your parting tool to part it off at about 75 mm. If it is right it will leave you with about 10 mm worth of threads still on the steel. Also the hole that you drilled shouldn't have gotten through the hole thing.

Step 4: Make the Cap

In this step you fabricate the cap of the pen.

I found it the easiest to use the lathe for this step also but it isn't necessery. First you need to tap M10 threads inside the stainless tubing, 10 mm of threads should be sufficient. This is the time to turn down the diameter of the tubing. I used a diameter of 12 mm, this leaves you with 1mm of wall thickness. Now you can sand and polish it up and part or saw it of at 85 mm.

Then you can turn the little cap that closes the tubing on top. I measured the inner diameter and turned a simple cap out of a piece of aluminium.

You can use the vise to press the cap in the inner tubing.

At this point I used a drillpress to drill a little hole in the side of the cap. Make sure the hole is large enough for the key ring to go through.

Step 5: Assemble the Pen

The assembly is really simple. You cut of your filling off, a little less than 75 mm and you push it inside of the pen. If your friction fit is not ideal you could use a little peace of scotch tape to wrap around the filling. The other thing that still needs to be done is pushing the key ring through the hole in the cap.

Step 6: You're Done

Your compact EDC pen is now completed.

But there are some things I would change if I make another one.

First of I woud make it a couple cm shorter. Now it made it that the total pen is over 15 cm long, but for a comfortable writing experience I would only need 12,5 cm. This change will make a lot of weight difference and will also make it even more compact. It would also take care of the top heaviness

Second I would try to make one with a M8 bolt and tap. This would also improve the weight a lot.

Thank you for reading!

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment and I will try to answer your questions as soon as possible.

I also entered the Teach It! contest and the Metal contest with this Instructable. A vote would be greatly appreciated. :)

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