Cola Pen Construction From Arizona Wood and SF Cans at Techshop

Introduction: Cola Pen Construction From Arizona Wood and SF Cans at Techshop

About: Based in San Francisco I strive to incorporate custom lettering in the art that I design, print, and make.

This instructables shows the steps to create a cola pen with 

1) a pre-sanded wooden handle (see instructable on material selection for cola pens for more info)
2) cola can nib
3) electrical tape to join the nib and the handle

The word NIB is used in this instructable to mean the writing tip of the cola pen (ie NIB = writing tip)

These cola pens are made with cans that are very sharp.  Be careful. not for <18
I made it at Techshop and Submitted by SFlettering for the Instructables Sponsorship Program

Step 1: Sanded Wood From Dead or Down Arizona Juniper

Here are the handles that were pre-sanded earlier.
There are 2 main ways to make a cola pen when joining the nib to the handle

1) use electrical tape and fold the cola can nib "around" the wooden handle (method selected)
2) make a slit in the top of the wood with an axe or knife  and slide the cola can into the slit 

TIP: when choosing the nib width and style consider matching the relative size of the writing tip (the NIB) to the handle selected for use. 

Step 2: Cottonwood Sanded From Arizona

Rather than splitting Juniper with an ax or hatchet you can also use dead and down cottonwood. The wood you see in this image was collected from a cottonwood tree and has a distinct look from the juniper wood. 

Note: notice the 2 colors of the heart wood and edge wood in the juniper shown in the image below
TIP: consider using multiple types of wood to learn how to get the best hold on your cola pen.

Step 3: Cutting the Cans in SF

When cutting the cans you can choose 3 types of cans

1) arizona ice tea cans (tall and skinny)
2) regular coca cola cans
3) hard side rigid cans (coconut beverage)

I regularly use a mix of cans for the cola can pen to practice getting the best quality calligraphy from the handmade cola pen. 

TIP: when selecting a can for use be very careful when cutting the can. I use a hacksaw and a vice when cutting the harder (coconut beverage) cans.

Step 4: Folding the Nib: Example of Folding With Can Label on the Inside

When folding the nib you will want to choose either to fold it with

1) the cola label on the outside
2) bend the can against the natural bend (chosen method)

TIP: When bending the can against the natural bend you can achieve a sharper fold, but re-bending the cola pen can create a break/tear in the fold area if you attempt to re-adjust the fold of the nib.

Step 5: Tape to Keep the Nib in Place

\When you are using electrical tape to join the writing end (nib) to the handle make sure to cut horizontal slits in the cola can. These horizontal slits are about 20% of the way from the bottom where it attaches to the wood. The slits will then be wrapped around the handle and bent in the direction that you are taping them in place.

TIP: The better (and sometimes larger) the bottom folded slits arei made the more sturdy the nib (usually)

Step 6: Cola Pen Production Line: Review of Assembly Method

After you have chosen the materials and read the overview of tips and methods you are ready to assemble your cola pen. 

1) select the handle from pre-sanded pieces you have already set aside
2) cut the nib from strips of cola cans you have already prepared
3) fold the nib in half
4) cut slits in the lower part of the nib to use to twist around the handle
5) tape to handle with black electrical tape
6) test that your nib is rigid enough for use

TIP: Make sure that you tightly attach the nib when taping it to the end of the handle to make sure that it does not move when you are writing.

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    3 years ago

    I'm doing my best to be NICE as requested but have to say, as a calligrapher, these pens are so awful that I'd rather write with a stick or a piece of celery. They are so sloppily made that, having made several tries I cannot get one to write. I routinely make cola pens for my own use and suggest you look to another site like YouTube for instructions on a pen that delivers the ink to the paper - and looks beautiful when finished.