Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Staples Xeno Pen Hack

I bought some great looking Xeno ballpoint pens at Staples even though I'm no longer a fan of ballpoints, thinking that I would refill them with a gel ink cartridge. How difficult could it be to find a 1.0mm gel ink refill that would fit this pen? And the perfect place to look would be Kinokuniya; friends were due in for the day, and it's a short walk from the Port Authority. My friends could see one of the great Japanese specialty stores in NYC, and I could look at the pens, notepads, and paper. We'd all have fun, and I could get some great different colored gel inks for these pens.

Flash forward to late afternoon as we're having coffee. I take out the Hi Tec C Coleto refills I bought at Kinokuniya and compare one to the Xeno I brought along. The Xeno ballpoint refill is longer, and no amount of fiddling will get around the fact that the gel ink refill is too short to be pushed out of the barrel. This ended abruptly when the gel ink refill flew apart, splattering my face with blue-black ink. We laughed and went on our way.

But I could not get this hack out of my mind. Somehow I had to extend the length of the refill in order to push out the plastic cap that fits into the barrel. Suffice to say after a few false starts (Q-tips, toothpicks) I found a way to do it, using the sharpened end of bamboo skewers. As seen in the pic to the left, with the red Hi Tec C Coleto gel ink refill, the skewer is inserted into the cartridge and then cut to the same lenght as the ballpoint refill.

This hack worked really well, the only slight problem being that the Xeno takes 1.0mm refills and the largest I could get in the Hi Tec C Coleto refill was 0.5mm. But other than looking a tad strange, I have my Xeno pen with a gel ink cartridge.


  1. i love doing hacks on pens. right now, i'm trying to figure out how to use hi tec refills in my levenger true writer. the refill is too wide for the pen.

  2. Wow, Kevin--given how slimm those hi tec refills are, I wouldn't have thought they'd be too wide for anything. Would love to hear about the solution when you come up with it.

  3. Have you ever used a Uni-Ball Jetstream? They are the smoothest pens I've ever used, ballpoint or not. However, the Xeno, I think, looks cooler and is much cheaper. How would you rate the writing smoothness of it?

  4. The kinokuniya in rockland where I live Closed :(

  5. hmmmm Pen hacks... Y'all would like this one cross this pen with this one and get a hybrid. Here is the scoop on the pen. The first is a really good roller and excellent work pen. however i liked the grip of the second pen that had a poor ink cartridge inside noticable in cold temperatures. so i took the bottom off the bottom of both pens and switched them. and got a really likable pen thats real nice to hang onto even with cold fingers. The second pen was my purchase of really cheep pens at Princess Auto. i have always been a sucker for a really good pen that is nice to use. and when doing carbon paper my soft wonderful writing Pentels were just not the right pen for the job. and i was requiring one with a tougher ball that refused to splotch like the even more terrible bic if you had to push the crap out of a pen like having to use it for carbon copy paper (example: invoices and bills of lading). so i thought i would share my take on this crazy modified pen. even better yip yip yip. now if xeno would take note of this one it would sell like hotcakes. what can i say i think i have a new favorite. and i had to modify it out of two pens. the rubber grip is a tight fit into the xeno but it works. and one stack of goofy lookin pens headed to the sally ann.