A step by step guide to how to make a Star Wars Day Stormtrooper Pen
The perceptive among you are very likely to have noticed something wasn't quite right about the Lamy Safari fountain pen featured in my review back in April – it is in fact quite non-standard. A little movie came out last year that you may or may not have seen – Star Wars Episode VII. I've been a huge fan of Star Wars since I was very small, and as I had just recently been introduced to the world of Lamy pens (and the modular, repairable nature of the Safari and Al-Star lines) I decided a Stormtrooper themed pen would be a fun little project. In the spirit of Star Wars Day landing on a Stationery Wednesday today, I thought it’d be the perfect time to write up a step-by-step for the pen – with a chance to win it too! Look out for a competition coming up soon on this...
Disclaimer: It’s very possible to end up with a less-than-functional pen, with a loose cap, wobbly clip, or worse - continue at your own risk! This is a “what if?” project that explores the possibilities of modifying Lamy pens – during the process the integrity of the pen will be compromised.
Episode I: The Preparation Menace
You’ll need a few very hi-tech tools before we start, and it’s a good idea to take inventory of which parts you’ll need. For parts and tools you’ll need:
- 1x Safari Charcoal fountain pen cap* - click here to buy
- 1x Safari White fountain pen cap* - click here to buy
- 1x Safari Black nib unit and/or Al-Star nib unit (black nib)** - click here to buy Safari unit or here for Al-Star unit
- 1x Safari White fountain pen barrel* - click here to buy
- A 1p coin
- A wooden dowel/pencil/biro – something with a 3mm diameter
- Elbow grease
*if you happen to have spare pens lying around, feel free to salvage the parts from these! You can also make quite an ugly pen with the leftovers - otherwise we have all of these parts available as special orders direct from Lamy.
**My original pen uses an Al-Star nib unit - unfortunately these do not come with the black plastic spacer, as it is molded into the barrel of the Al-Star pen. If you want the pen to look the same, you'll need to source the spacer from either another pen or a Safari nib unit. Alternatively you could use two full Safari pens plus an Al-Star nib unit.
Episode II: Attack of the Barrel
I like to start with the easy part, and it doesn't get much easier than this. Simply screw the Al-Star nib unit along with the black plastic spacer on to the Safari barrel, job done! The barrel (along with the cap) represents the iconic glossy white armour of the Stormtroopers, while I decided to go for the Al-Star nib unit to represent the smoked black eyepieces of the helmet in addition to helping break up all the white. Alternatively, you can just use the Safari Black nib unit.
Episode III: Revenge of the End Cap
This part is decidedly trickier than the last. You’ll need the previously mentioned coin, dowel/pencil, and elbow grease for this part as we’ll be removing the metal clips from the pen caps. Modern Safari caps consist of 5 separate pieces, the larger of the two being the cap body itself and the metal clip. Inside, are three extra parts – the cross-shaped end cap, a rubber o-ring, and a soft-plastic internal piece for keeping the cap secure on the pen.
We’ll begin by using the coin to help loosen the crossed end cap – the cap is actually a push clip so unfortunately we can’t just unscrew it, but this should make it a bit easier to pop out. Now, using your instrument of choice, we’ll be pushing the end cap out from the inside. This is where you’re most likely to damage the pen – the interior section is unfortunately made of fairly soft plastic, and the action of removing the push clip of the end cap can cause damage to this piece. If you do this part slowly, with a steady amount of force then the piece should pop up without taking much of the internal section with it. You might find some small parts of the rim of the internal section break off, but I've found that this hasn't affected my pen in any way (such as drying out or the cap not staying on. Be sure to keep an eye out for the o-ring, as it has a tendency to pop up along with the end cap!
Repeat this step for the other cap, once again taking care not to damage the internal section (this is where spare caps come in handy).
Step IV: A New Clip
Now that we have the caps dismantled, we can go about swapping the clips. Due to the curved nature of the clip, you want to remove one end at a time. Start by gently turning one end out of the cap, then twist the clip end up and over the lip of the cap, where the end cap had just been sitting. Then, with the clip perpendicular to the cap, simply turn the other end of the metal clip out of its hole and slide the clip off the cap. Do this for both caps.
To put the clip back on the caps, just reverse the process, doing one end at a time. You may find that you need to flex the clip a bit to get it in the holes. Be careful to not scratch the finish of the cap during this step, as the ends of the metal wire clip are fairly sharp!
Step V: The End Cap Strikes Back
We’ll be putting the end cap back in the top of the cap, so get the elbow grease ready again! This part can be tricky, as the force of putting the push clip back in can force the internal section out of the cap.
Start by making sure the curve of the clip is flush against the plastic of the cap, and reseat the rubber o-ring. Next, find the right end cap (black for the white cap!) and slowly push it back into the cap. You'll likely find that the push clip forces the interior section out, so try bracing it against the rubber end of a pencil with the rubber removed – anything wider than the 3mm diameter of the push clip, but not wide enough to get stuck in the cap! You also want to avoid plugging the hole of the internal piece where the end cap clips in as you'll be trying for eternity - hence the pencil sans rubber.
You’ll know that the end cap is in once you feel a dull click, and the end cap itself will stick out of the cap by about 1mm – only the chamfered edge should stick out. If everything was done correctly, the metal clip of the pen should be secure enough to use. Unfortunately, during this process it's very easy to accidentally damage or widen the interior section, making the cap not sit as securely on the pen as you'd like - the downside of a vanity project!
Step VI: Return of the Safari
That’s it! Hopefully you have a pen that’s in one piece, leak free and without a loose cap or wobbly clip. If you fancy your chances at winning the pen featured, click on to the competition page to enter - and may the Force be with you!