Monday, October 22, 2012

Making A $2.00 Write Anywhere Nano-Sized Pen

This weekend I picked up a Listo Pencil for $2.00 at my favorite variety store. The Listo is a marking pencil, sort of like a grease pencil. Like a crayon, it'll write on nearly anything - paper, plastic, metal, wood, etc. It's not particularly permanent, but that can be a good thing too.

Naturally, I couldn't resist taking the pencil apart to see the guts, and realized that the "lead" is relatively small. That got me thinking, could I turn this guy into super compact writing implement?

Here's what I did:

  1. Popped out the pencil lead
  2. Cut a piece of plastic straw the same length of the lead
  3. Sliced the plastic straw lengthwise
  4. Slid the lead into the straw
  5. Wrapped the straw tightly around the lead
  6. Every so gently, took a lit lighter to the straw, melting and sealing snipped seam of the straw (my gosh that melts quickly!)

Here's a few snapshots of the process:

The whole process took less than 8 minutes to do, and the result is amazingly usable.

To finish off the project, I grabbed a few index cards and cut them to fit my Urban Survival Kit. The cards and pencil effortlessly fit in the kit:

As hacks go, I'm especially pleased with this one. Now I've got this handy write-anywhere pen on me whenever I grab my Altoids Tin (which is whenever I've got pocket space for it). And $2.00 is actually the high end for this project, apparently I can buy a box of 72 Listo refills for $9.00, which means that these can be made for about $0.13 each.

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