Pin flags are used to mark items of interest outdoors. Unfortunately, manufactured pin flags are not made durable enough for long term usage.
This tutorial shows how to create your own pin flags from titanium pins and colorful flagging tape. The titanium is very strong and rust free so these homemade pin flags will last forever!
The flagging tape comes in a variety of colors which can be used to identify or classify certain features when flagged.
Step 1: Why Make Pin Flags?
Pin flags can be very useful when needing to mark a location outdoors. Commercially available pin flags are prone to rust when moisture is present. The rust then stains hands and clothing when used.
The flags deteriorate over time, fade and become brittle. The flags then either break apart or fall off the rusted pin as seen in the photo.
Making pin flags from titanium pins and colorful flagging solves all of these problems. The titanium is strong and rust free. The flagging while subject to deterioration in the outdoors can simply be replaced with new flagging as needed!
Step 2: Materials and Tools
Making your own durable pin flags is very easy using titanium pins and colorful flagging tape.
Titanium pins 1.6 mm in diameter and 500 mm long
Flagging tape, your choice of colors
Needle nose pliers
Step 3: Making the End Loop
Start by putting on safety glasses and then select a single titanium pin as seen in Photo 1. Using needle nose pliers, make a loop at one end of the pin as seen in Photo 2. Titanium pins are exceedingly strong so it takes practice to bend small segments at a time to form the loop. The pin will break if bent too sharply and too quickly. If a loop does break just make another loop on the pin. The pin will be a little shorter than the others but it will function just as well.
As seen in Photos 3-4, continue bending in small increments until the loop is complete. Ensure that the loop is bent so that the tip of the pin touches the pin shaft. You don't want a gap where the flag could slide out of the loop. You also don't want the tip of the pin to extend beyond the pin shaft as it would create an annoying point that would be uncomfortable to touch. A good size estimate is to form a loop that will allow a wooden pencil to pass through. If you try to make the loop any smaller it will break.
Using both pliers, align the loop so that it is in the same plane as the shaft of the pin, as seen in Photo 5.
Follow this procedure until you finish making loops on all of the pins, as seen in Photo 6.
An alternative approach would be to heat the pin over a gas flame to make tighter bends. For this diameter of pin, the heat technique is not needed and would be expended energy that could have been used for other things.
I noticed with great surprise that if my pliers slipped while making the loop, the titanium pin would sometimes send out a few sparks, so make sure you are not anywhere near combustible things like gas vapors as you make the loops.
Step 4: Adding the Flag
With the loops completed, cut pieces of flagging 300 mm long.
Insert the flagging through the loop and tie a simple bulky knot to keep the flagging in place.
That is all there is to it!
Step 5: Ways to Use Pin Flags
Now that the pin flags are complete, set them up outside for inspection!
The pin flags are great for marking things on the ground that are not readily visible otherwise.
The pin flags can be used to mark the location of weeds targeted for removal. Give this job to the kids as it will make weed work fun. Retrieving the pin flags is fun too but they can't be removed until the weeds are removed first.....
The pin flags can be used to mark the location of interesting plants or rocks for an outdoor educational trip.
The pin flags could be used to mark the location of a buried gas or water line so that crews know to avoid it when digging holes for fenceposts.
If you are a tour guide or docent you could use a colorful pin flag, held above your head, to keep your group together as you move them through crowds of other people.
Use pin flags to mark the locations of planted seeds in your garden. Use a permanent marker to label the flags if needed.
Another use of the pin flags would be for games. The pin flags could be used to mark the route of an obstacle course or be used to mark the start and finish lines for a three-legged race.
Place a handful of multi-colored pin flags in a clear vase and place inside in a sunny location for a unique decorating idea.
Or simply place the pin flags outdoors for an eye-catching splash of moving color that is sure to brighten up any outdoor space.
Step 6: If at First You Don't Succeed.....
I used stainless steel wire on my first attempt to make pin flags. I chose stainless steel because the wire would not rust. I cut the wire to the correct length and made a loop and tied a piece of flagging on the loop and all seemed well.
When I actually went to use the pin flag the pin easily bent as I was pushing it into the ground. This was a major disappointment but I determined to try again with a stronger metal such as titanium.
The titanium pin was much stronger than the stainless steel wire and the titanium pin while flexible is incredibly stiff and does not bend when pushed into the ground.
Step 7: Final Thoughts
Making your own titanium pin flags is very easy. The titanium metal feels great to the touch and hands stay clean because the durable pins remain free from rust.
The colorful flagging will not separate from the pin because it is tied to the pin rather than glued. The flagging, however, can be removed by untying it and replacing with a different color. Two or more colors of flagging can be attached to a single pin for greater emphasis or meaning.
This color interchangeability gives a greater versatility to the pin flags. It also means that these are forever pin flags because the flagging can be replaced if faded, torn or otherwise degraded.