Intro: The Mint Tin Moleskine
This quick project came about as a way for me to haul my every day carry items in a nice simple package. Every day I carry a blade (CRKT M21-02), a notepad (el cheapo paper back moleskine), a writing implement (custom tool steel pen with F-701 cartridge) and fire (Xicar Pipe lighter).
Normally I bike to and from work and loading my pockets up makes for an uncomfortable ride. Now I can just grab the tin, toss it in my pack and I'm ready to ride.
Over the next few pages I'll photo document the construction of this simple case.
Step 1: Prepare the Book
I buy my moleskines in a "cheap" 3 pack. They are the pocket sized soft cover version. To fit in the tin we must cut down the book. The bonus to this is you now can get 2 smaller pads per book...your writing area is halved tho so we are no further ahead...but it fits inside a tin so that makes it all worth while. Use the tin to mark the final cut size.
I cover the spine (both outside and inside) with cyanoacrylate glue (crazy glue). This locks in the sewn together binding so nothing unravels once we cut the book down to size. Let the glue set while you finish the next step.
Cyanoacrylate glue cures with moisture so dipping your finger in a bit of water and wiping the glue covered spine should cause the glue to instantly set...it may also instantly set to your finger.
I took multiple passes with a razor to leave a nice clean cut. Knock the edges off the cutout pad to make dropping it into the tin easier.
Step 2: Prep the Tin
This is by far the most tedious part. I used some 120 grit sanding sponge to take the bulk of the paint off. The rest was removed with a combination of a 80 grit flapper wheel on a rotary tool, and a steel wire wheel. The steel wire wheel worked the best for getting into the small cracks of the case.
You can bend the tabs on the case to remove the lid...which makes life much easier.
Finally we drill a hole that I will use to affix my pen. Step the size up slowly to avoid tearing the tin sheet metal of the case. Your could forgo this step completely by using a smaller pen that fit inside the case...I wanted mine to protrude as it looks interesting...not all the useful as I have to take apart my pen every time I need to use it but I'm not going for ease of use here :)...looking cool outweighs usability on this project.
Step 3: The Pen
First off I am a bit of a pen snob. I can say that you will be hard pressed to find a better writing pen for the dollar then the zebra F-701. Its a cheap pen (costs me about $7 CAN for one) but writes very fine and clean. I've used them for the last 2-3 years and made this custom pen case about 2 years ago.
As you can see from the pictures the pen body and top are clamping the mint tin. I did this for 2 reasons. First the pen would not fit any other way, second it looks neat. Should you want to add a pass thru hole for your pen be cautions of where the lid falls when closed. My hole had to be quite tight to this position to clear the notepad positioned inside the bottom of the tin.
Once again this is a horribly inefficient way to store a pen for daily use but people will look with awe and wonder at your pocket pen box...this feeling of pride will far overshadow the poor design elements.
Step 4: Blade and Layout
Ok, there is no way I am going to be able to fit my pocket folder knife into this box. After carrying a knife for a while you really start to depending on always having it. What could I do....
The next best (and super frugal) option is to find some means to store a single edge razor in the case. Recently for another project I purchased a box of 200 razor blade for $10, since I have about 198 spares sitting around after that project I chose to use them.
I found a small neodymium magnet in my junk box and found it to be the prefect way to hold the razor away from harm but still within easy access. The blade simply attaches to the cover with the sharp edge facing the hinge line. This keeps the edge keen and my fingers safe when rummaging around the tin, trying desperately to remove the "cool" looking pen :).
The lighter sits comfortably inside the case. On the back of the moleskine I draw a small ruler with graduations in inches and a smaller section vertically in mm. I've left space open on the back cover to sketch in some conversions I use daily (I do a fair amount of CNC machining so speeds and feeds / chip load charts usually get written on the covers).
That concludes this simple article. I had quite a fun afternoon working with this small project and documenting it. As with anything idea's jump into my mind during construction and I now have a few more elaborate projects that will spin off from this.
Thanks for the views and take care my friends!