I have what I’d call a fairly well considered EDC setup. I have favorite things that I carry often, and useful things that stay with me for a long time. The Spyderco Dragonfly 2, Benchmade Aphid, or a small SAK are my knives. A TorchLAB BOSS is my is my light. But pen…. I always need a pen…. This led to a problem which needed fixing, and I did it the best way I could! Read on for more on why and how!
- This process permanently modifies one Bic Clic Stic pen
- These are small magnets. Do not ingest magnets despite how delicious the name “donut magnets” implies they are.
- Treat this as a learning experience – there are other off-the-shelf pens which might suit you even better.
- There will be some amazon referral links in this post.
- Build this at your own risk!
If you don’t need an 0.5mm writing point, then there’s probably not a lot of point to this mod. If you don’t find regular Bic Clic Stic pens too long, then there’s probably not a lot of point to this mod. If you don’t love the ubiquity of the Bic Clic Stic pen, the almost-certain availability in a colorway that supports your favorite [thing], then there’s probably not a lot of point to this mod. If you don’t find the novelty of your pen having two “strong enough” magnets inside the barrel, then there’s probably not a lot of point to this mod.
But if any one of those things appeals to you, then you’ll probably want one of these pens.
Not So Quick Thoughts
My handwriting is messy. Like messy messy. I can’t even read it most of the time. Other people wonder what language is it. A fine point pen isn’t the solution to this problem, but a bold pen absolutely confounds it. The second point is that I can’t really abide useless length in a pen. It’s hard to say much more without it euphemism but a lot of it has to do with how an item rides in my pocket. I’ll leave it at that.
Price and Parts List
- $5 (or free), Bic Clic Stic Pens
- $0.61 each (2 recommended), K&J Magnetics R424DIA Neodymium Ring Magnet
- $6.99 for 6, Ohto 895NP 0.5mm Black Oil-based Ink Refill (note this is not what’s pictured above – I realized after the fact that I was out of the Ohtos!! Gotta buy more)
Things that are nice to have for this build (and shown above):
One of the major points of this mod is going from the top size, to the bottom size.
Tip to tip the stock pen is 138mm in length (“closed”). The modded version is around 117mm but you can vary this to your liking.
The stock pen weighs 4g, and the version modified as shown increases in weight to 6g. It’s a very small weight but as a percentage it’s a massive increase! If you feel 6g is too low still, add more donut magnets!
Ultimately the steps are:
- Shorten the pen
- Bore the tip minimally
- Slip magnets over ink
- Install replacement ink
- Put pen back together
But below is a more photographic display of those steps, with more thoughts, of course. 😀
Disassemble the pen!
Prepare to bore the tip of the Bic Clic Stic pen.
Bore that tip! Don’t use a drill; just do this by hand. And don’t remove much material! Just a bit – it’s always possible to remove more if the action isn’t exactly right.
This step is fairly easy for me but if you read here often you’ll know I’m an expert at boring. womp womp.
Below is approximately how much I removed. It’s just not much at all!!
Now let’s turn our attention to this barrel. This is the stock length. We want a shorter length – you don’t have any choice in this matter because the replacement refill is shorter than stock. So you’ll have to shorten the barrel at least enough to accommodate that refill.
In my case, I know what length I want. So I just lined up an existing modded pen to this longer barrel, and marked it with a razor blade. You’ll want to do some trial and error, but I’m removing approximately 20-25mm. You’ll almost certainly want to play around with this, and you’ll see why later!
I use a pipe cutter to further mark deeply where I intend to cut.
This step isn’t required but it helps get a perfectly straight cut.
The pipe cutter will likely not fully cut the pen; that’s fine. If you have a PVC cutter, that’ll probably work even better (though in my experience they don’t provide perfectly straight cuts).
Mark that body!
You’ll want to stop when you have a clean line, but with some depth. More on that later. I think the pipe cutter is actually directional and I haven’t accounted for that in this cut. One side is curved and one side is straighter. If you were cutting pipe, you’d want the straight side as the “keep” side. But here it’s less important. The straight/flat side will probably look better in the end product. The curve/squished side will likely give you a better fit.
Break out that straight razor. Unfortunately this razor is not sided. That is – a chisel grind would probably work better (like what looks to be on the pipe cutter I used), but what we have here instead on the razor blade is a Scandi grind, or full wedge. Not a big deal, it works either way!
Cut that barrel!
Cutting the barrel this way should provide you with a very clean and straight cut.
I’ve made pens out of that leftover bit. They’re very hard to use.
The barrel ends up with a slight lip on the inside. That’s actually great because it makes the fit on the tip (this should be your tip end!) tighter!
Now if you wish to do this mod but keep the stock ink, that’s cool. We can still be friends. But you’ll need to shorten the stock ink. Shorten it by exactly how much you shortened the barrel, and you should be good to go. Use the cut off part as a guide.
If you wish to proceed, then trash that stock ink, which is around 1.0mm. There are finer versions of this pen, but they’re still not as fine as I want. Break out the replacement! (NOT what is pictured below!)
It was exactly at this point that I realized the replacement I had is not the replacement I wanted (I went through a bunch of inks to get the right one….). So disregard what you see in this picture, and keep reading.
We’ll be reusing this stock spring. I should find some fancy expensive titanium spring or whatever I guess to kick this up a notch. But this one works great anyway. Again, that’s the wrong replacement refill.
Install spring! Again, that’s the wrong replacement refill.
Alright so I’ll just pull the OHTO from my current modded pen. From now on, the ink is “the right” ink.
Install that spring on the right ink. Break out those magnets!!
These are R424DIA (1/4″ od x 1/8″ id x 1/4″ thick) NdFeB, Grade N42, Ni-Cu-Ni (Nickel) plated “donut” magnets. There are probably others you could use, but consider these vetted. Also I’ve had great experiences with K&J Magnetics, so they come highly recommended too. I can’t say these are actually Grade N42. But they’re good enough – and their magnetic properties aren’t all we want them for.
I use just two. But I order them by the tens or twenties…. Buy yourself a bunch!. Then use as many as you want.
Throw them on the ink! Use two or more, up to however many will fit. I use these magnets for multiple reasons. First, they set the weight at a better point for me. The pen has better balance and the extra weight is important. And having magnets always handy is immeasurably more beneficial than you would initially imagine!
Install the previously modified tip. I put this tip on the cut end, because the tip is the part most likely to wander out of the tube when the pen is “open.” The open position is the writing position, and also the position where the spring is being compressed.
Get out all of your parts!
Install that ink!
Install that clicky!
Boom now you have a ZeroAir version of the Bic Clic Stic Pen!!
Troubleshoot That Pen
It’s unlikely that you’ll get the dimensions perfect the first time. In my example above, the tip was “too long” (in reality it means the ink refill is “too short”)
Unfortunately this is the worse side of things, and means that the pen barrel must be shortened. If it was the other way around – clicky action doesn’t click twice and/or the tip doesn’t stay out – then that’s an easier fix – shorten the ink.
But in this case we have to shorten the barrel a little. I estimated about 1mm off the barrel would do it. And 1mm is too short to mark with the pipe cutter so I just went rogue and cut it straight off with the razor blade. I got super lucky and it was perfectly 1mm all the way through, but …. don’t expect that to happen every time. LEGO frog helped.
The thicker part of the tip should be exactly at the end of the plastic pen tip. As seen below – I was lucky and got it exactly right the second time.
Another problem you might find is that the action isn’t perfect – if it’s not a length problem, then it’s probably a need to bore the tip out more.
Finally a complete and working modified pen.
I threw on some other parts (from my other mod) and now have a #redwhiteandblue modded pen!
User Interface and Operation
Seriously you don’t know how to use a Bic Clic Stic then you aren’t doing this mod. But let’s hear some of that good good clicky action.
The full before and after:
After Slow-Mo. Oooohhhh yeaaaahhhhhh.
Just the after.
The clicky does not really change at all. That’s in part because we’re using the same spring and clicky, but also because the replacement ink has the tabs (spring holders) at approximately the same distance as stock.
Future Changes/ Ideas for you
I honestly wouldn’t change anything about this pen. I used to want a metal version, but then I got a metal version (from Scout Leather Co.) and did the above mods. Unfortunately the barrel being metal means is can’t be as tight, and the tips always get pushed out against the spring. So it’s brass and it’s awesome, but it’s unusable. 🙁
What I like
- Shotened size
- The “what’s this??” that a modified ubiquitous pen provides
- Added weight
- The 0.5mm nature of the ink
What I don’t like
- You might not find the clip to be perfect. I have tried shortening it but it just doesn’t work right that way. You’ll likely have to rotate the pen so that the clip is “up,” but that’ll be automatic after a day.
- This pen and all parts were provided by me. I was not paid to write this post.
- This content originally appeared at zeroair.org. Please visit there for the best experience!
- For flashlight related patches, stickers, and gear, head over to PhotonPhreaks, another site where I write!
- Use my amazon.com referral link if you’re willing to help support making more reviews like this one!