Refill a Ballpoint or Gel Pen With Fountain Pen Ink




About: Mechanical Engineer, coder, electronics hacker. Aficionado of the little things in life.

This instructable explains how to dismantle, prepare and fill a gel or ballpoint pen with fountain pen ink. Although not efficient for everyday use, this will probably be a fun-filled activity for pen nerds everywhere.

Step 1: Materials

-1 syringe with needle (I got mine from a printer refill kit)
- A set of pliers
- Some fountain pen ink (I used Parker Quink)
- Surgical spirit
- A pen, preferably used ( I used 0.5 ballpoint and gel pens)
- Steady hands
- Several sheets of scrap paper for absorbing any spills
- Gloves
- a disposable cup (optional)

Step 2: Dismantle the Pen

Take the pen apart, pulling out the ink tube

Step 3: Take Out the Metal Point and Clean

Take out the metal point:
Grasp the metal point lightly and pull the point out while twisting slowly. In gel pens, the metal point is attached to a plastic portion which, in turn, is attached to the ink-holding tube.

Washing or flushing the tube and point:
Wash the tube and point with surgical spirit, spilling the runoff into a a disposable cup.

Step 4: Filling a Gel Tube

(The gel pen can be filled without using the syringe's needle)
Suck up some fountain pen ink into the syringe. Place the syringe opening at one end of the gel-ink tube (picture 1) and push the plunger gently. Let an ink column of about 2-3 inches form.

Remove the syringe and let the ink almost fall out and at the moment when the ink column is threatening to fall out of the tube (see picture 2), stuff the metal point back in (picture 3). Wipe off excess ink.

If you see air bubbles, try again.

Step 5: Filling a Ballpoint Tube

A ballpoint is trickier to fill than a gel tube because of the thinner tube. However, with patience, it can be done.

Suck up some fountain pen ink into the syringe. Position the syringe as shown in picture 1.
Hold the whole tube at an elevation of about 5 degrees (otherwise the ink flows onto your hand). Start pushing the plunger very very slowly.

[Read this whole paragraph first and then proceed] Allow an ink column of 2-3 inches to form. "Balance" the ink column somewhere in the middle of the tube.

Angle the tube slowly, and at the point when the ink is almost spilling out of the tube, insert the metal point into that end. Wipe off excess ink.

If you see air bubbles, try again.

Step 6: Put Everything Back Together

Take the refilled (yay!) pen tubes and put the pen/pens back together. You're done! Try out your new impractical but fun pen, and (sorry for the caps) ALWAYS STORE THE PENS HORIZONTALLY.

I have included some writing samples and pictures below.

I welcome constructive criticism and comments so feel free.



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    18 Discussions


    5 months ago

    I have bought a box of pens that are the same model (M&G XS-3 0.38 gel pen), but some how many of the tips were not working. I happened upon this instructables and would like to know if it works transferring the same pen ink without removing the writing tip as I worry I would not be able to push it back in? I also don't get why it can stop in one pen while the other one writes til the ink finishes.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very interesting.  dose it work on cheaper pens (roller balls and the like) or only on the more up scale pens? 

    This would be good for those high dollar refill pens.

    4 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Well the total price I paid for those two pens was only around $ 0.3 and I think this technique will produce different results with different pens, irrespective of price.

    BTW this fountain-pen-ink mod runs out pretty quickly, and isn't pocket safe.

    David ASHalf-Life

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Too bad. I literally had the exact same idea, even down to the printer refill syringes and saw that Staples had the Quink fountain pen ink. However, since you said it runs out quickly and is not pocket safe, I will hold off until I do some more research. If only we could get bulk ink that the pen company makes, then we wouldn't have to improvise! That's my next research...

    bluebellrose David AS

    Reply 1 year ago

    How about using a body that's designed for fountain pen ink like the Platinum Preppy?


    1 year ago

    Well you just described the how to in cannibalizing a pen's working tip.How about showing how to cannibalize a rollerball tip and installation onto a Platinum Preppy?


    2 years ago

    can we do ball pen ink pen's ink?

    but....... that is great idea but my brother said it can not be done using ink pen's ink

    When I refill a gel pen the ink is no working. Sometimes work for 2-3 min. after 2-3 min. it stop. Please suggest how to refill a gel pen that works.


    4 years ago

    The safest way to keep the pen is writing tip up. If needed, seal the other end of the tube with a glue gun.


    5 years ago on Step 6

    This seems like a very logical process to me. I am going to try this soon and then post my results. Thanks for this instruction. Cheers !


    5 years ago on Step 6

    It doesn't work. I tried several times and fountain pen ink is too liquid for gel pen. It flows too ink from the gel pen tip.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I had tried several times but I had som problems:
    I need something to replace the gel that's uesd to close the pen tank, maybe can I use hair gel?
    I found fountain pen ink (I used Pelikan) too liquid for gel pen


    Have you tried to make the pens pocket safe by putting Vaseline or Hair Wax at the end of the tubes?

    It might work properly as a grease seal, making sure the ink doesn't flow out from the end.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    There's a locally manufactured good quality gel pen for 15 LKR, or 0.14USD (which I used above).
    Recently, a new pen called "butter gel" has been released by the same company for slightly less than that. (their products can be viewed under "shopping cart")


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i think more cheaper gel pens are available in India. You can get a gel pen for Rs.5(12 lkr) and cheaper ones are available for Rs.3 ( about 7 LKR). And Hi , I am glad to see someone from the sub continent :D


    8 years ago on Step 6

    If you have a longer needle can you fill the ink tube completely witout removing the writing tip(i,e you fill it from its open end)????