Uses for Used Up Ink Pens

You hate to throw those old plastic pens out. So you dismantle them and think, how to recycle those parts.

For crocheters, use the rubber grip on your crochet hook. The fine point pen grips work on smaller hooks, up to size I. (For the smallest hooks, a little masking tape on the hook will customize the fit.) The broad point pen grips will slide onto size J hooks and a little larger.


For knitters, wash the empty ink tubes and use two as knitting needles. They're 3 mm wide, about a US size 3.

For sewers and needleworkers, make an etui to carry in your purse. Empty the pen "guts" and use the case to carry a couple of threaded needles, a tapestry needle, and safety pins for emergencies. Decorate it with tape so you don't mistake it for a working pen.

For beaders, store your beads by size and color in separate tubes. Poke the pens into a thick slab of styrofoam as a base. They're organized and you can see what you've got.

Measure the pen you carry in your purse, and you can use it as a rough ruler.

By Janice C. from Kenosha Co., WI

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

How can I reuse plastic pens? Over my 62 years the reuse of most anything has come pretty easy to me with just a little thought, and the expectations that it only has to work for me. But plastic pens have been "the challenge" of course, along with disposable razors.

I solve the razor problem with the long term use and care of a rechargeable electric razor. Plastic barrel pens are everywhere. Yes, I own a refillable pen. But still those plastic critters continue to sneak into my house. I have tried crafting with them. I even made a sort of a small detail paint brush out of one, along with building a tree. I use several for Christmas tree ornaments. I tried to make a fishing lure once, a seed plater, stakes for house plants, and darts for a dart board.

I must be overlooking fairly obvious reuses that would decrease the disposal of these poor excuses for writing instruments. I need help. There are just too many people that use them to have them banned. We need to put a value into those pen users hands. So lets come up with many more reuses of the plastic pens. Thank you.

Michael "Mr. Thrifty" from Shermansdale, PA


January 20, 20090 found this helpful
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You could try making pan flutes. I've never done this but it's a thought. Finger over the top will let you transport small amounts of liquid. Cut them up and make beads for kids to use crafting. Pea shooter? Stockade fence in a Lego village. Easy carry handle for cord - thread cord through then tie cord to object being carried.

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January 20, 20091 found this helpful
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Here's a few ideas:

1) Outdoor plant hangers: How about taking the old ball-point ink cartridges out so these plastic pens are hollow & using them as beads. I think you could run 18 gauge (brass or galvanized) wire through them to make outdoor plant hangers. Just string them on as you would any beads. Use 3 strands of longer "beads" on the top & 3 strands of smaller "beads" under the plant's pot to hold it up.

2) Twirly Stars: I make all kinds of 3-D stars out of cut-up colorful straws with my granddaughter We simply run dental floss through them after cutting them to size. I think these hollow plastic pens are just heavy duty straws, so you could use them to make "stars" too. The pens could even be painted with that new spray-paint made especially to stick to plastic!

3) Beads: Have someone use a band saw to cut a handful of them into inch sized pieces to use for sturdy beads for projects.

4) "Bones" for fabric dolls: Sometimes it's hard to find sturdy scaffolding or skeleton material for fabric dolls. I think you could attach a fimo head to these pens (after they are cut to size) then run an 18 gauge wire through the center of them & use this to either stuff your doll with or to wrap your fabric around & when the doll is finished the joints could even bend too!

* I know you can bend old vinyl records by simply heating them at 200 for 1 or 2 minutes in the oven, I bet you could carefully bend these empty plastic pens too, but use care & don't burn yourself (or your house down)!

5) Plastic "bamboo": Use the pens like they are Bamboo & make place-mats out of them (using dental floss & spray paint) or better yet, thread the dental floss through the empty cartridges in & out through them (like they are big long beads) & make a cuter cover for your house plants pots.

6) Log Cabin for Dolls: Use wire &/or glue to make a "log cabin" for Polly-Pocket dolls (Polly Pocket dolls are tiny dolls that are all the rage for young kids these days).

7) Litter Box Help: Wire or string hollow pens together to make a ramp or "rug" for kitty to walk on when leaving cat box so litter isn't tracked around house.

8) Hold Up New Plan Starts: Poke a hollow pen tube into your newly started plant to help it stay upright.

9) Hold Plastic Off of Plants: Use pen tubes to hold plastic off of new seedlings to form a "mini-greenhouse".

10) Ribbon Holder: String wire through pen & put pen through the spool of ribbon.

11) Knitting: I know it sounds crazy, but I've always thought if all the ink was gone from the pens that you could possibly clean the ball-points with alcohol or fingernail polish remover, then when they're totally clean you could use them as knitting needles. You could even add on another pointy end & make double-sided knitting needles or even use them as stitch holders.

12) Loop Turners: If your sew, you've maybe seen those fancy tubes they use to turn something inside-out (in place of a safety pin) I think they are called "Loop Turners". I'm wondering if you could make them out of hollow ball-point pens & wire?

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By Lois Ann from Franklinville (Guest Post)
January 21, 20091 found this helpful
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Well, you surely have me beat! I buy pens that are reusable, that have fillers, but yes, those 'others' do sneak into the house. Unfortunately, this issue of Thrifty Fun came too late as I tossed probably 100 of the darn things out.

What I would have done, would be to take a Styrofoam ball, maybe 4 inch, and dip the non-point end into tacky glue and shove it into the ball. When the entire thing is covered with spikes, spray paint it, toss glitter on it, and hang it as a sputnik type 'ornament' for Christmas.

The insert that holds the ink. Those I am saving and cutting up to use as clear beads.

Man, REALLY wished I'd not tossed those.

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January 22, 20091 found this helpful
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On reevaluating the plastic pen body itself. I can see unique earrings, neckleces, pins, bracelets and even money clips being fashioned. Let's face it these plastics come in every colour (that is a big plus). The key is how to cut them. Some kind of saw blade? Perhaps melting and reshaping I just had another thought, creating buttons out of plastic pen barrels.

Amazing isn't it when we tune ourselves into possibilities, instead of just tossing items into trash cans. That plastic trash can itself could in reality be fashion out of plastic pens melted and molded.
Yes we are talking about some toxics fumes, energy spent, in remanufacturing, but if we do it on let's say just one of a kind scale. We as a whole could stop countless landfills being filled up.

Yes, those plastic pens take up space in those dumps, and they might still be there in a thousands of years.

You know our ancestors must be rolling over in their graves. The way we waste stuff. Reuse was always their key to having a better life.

Thank you All Again For All Your Ideas
Mr. Thrifty

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By jane32425 (Guest Post)
January 22, 20090 found this helpful
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I've used them as funnels to fill miniature bottles that I put root cuttings in to sell. Works Great!

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By SallyW (Guest Post)
January 23, 20090 found this helpful
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My kitten LOVES to chase pens more than she likes the toys I have bought for her! You could probably decorate the pens and give them as gifts to your friends with young cats--or fill them with catnip!

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June 7, 20090 found this helpful
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I use my old empty pens as hair pins to hold a hair bun. It works great too! You can always decorate them and make them look pretty. Peace!

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August 10, 2004

Do you know any uses for used pens that are out of ink? Especially the disposable kind.


February 19, 20010 found this helpful
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My eighth grade students (boys especially!) like to use the barrel of the
pen as a paper-wad shooter! Maybe not what you had in mind, but it is a use for them!
Candis - Exceptional Children's Teacher

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February 21, 20011 found this helpful
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Cut the outside casing in pieces and when you get an assortment of colours they can be threaded on string or cotton or fishing line, to make necklaces, bracelets, and anklets! kids can have heaps of fun Just a thought.


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February 21, 20010 found this helpful
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How about removing the inner workings, and use them to make crafty flower stems for a bouquet of home made flowers. Can be painted varying shades of green or leave them the original colors.

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August 10, 20040 found this helpful
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I use them in my arts and crafts when I'm tracing an image from tracing paper onto the final piece. It's better than a pencil when you want to reuse the tracing over and over as you don't cover over the original lines. But you do still need to use a pencil on the back or nothing will transfer!

By chickybiker

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October 6, 20040 found this helpful
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I was trying to be clever about hiding some travel cash once & rolled the bill tightly & slipped it down in the empty barrel of the pen - instead of a money belt! I save some of the parts as replacement parts for other pens. Same with some lids like from toothpaste in case it gets lost for instance. You could make a picture frame from some of the cooler looking pens.

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