Tuesday, July 31, 2012

how to refill a sharpie accent liquid highlighter

Don't tell anyone, but I know how to DO things.  Secret things, silly things, fun things.
I decided it was well past time I shared some knowledge with you.  So today I am going to show you how to refill a Sharpie accent highlighter with a bottled ink of your choice.

Supply list:
empty Sharpie highlighter
rubber jar-opening grippy thingie
gigantic nail or screw
ink syringe
ribbon OR twine OR string OR yarn
nail polish remover (optional)
cotton pad OR paper towel OR tissue (also optional)
But you probably want a sheet of paper towel on hand, just in case of an inky explosion!

First let's take a look at an empty highlighter.
I will - guiltily - admit that I drew all over paper for fifteen minutes today just because I realized how close to empty this puppy was!

Next up, let's look at the terrible thing that I did during my experiment.  You don't need to try this at home, folks.
I ripped out the tip of the marker, thinking that I could pull out the entire feed system (that's the ribbed gray piece of plastic still inside the body of the pen).  Whoops.  Turns out my stroke of genius was entirely unnecessary.  DON'T DO IT!!  There's a much better way to get inside this marker.
At the non-business end of this pen, you'll find a colored piece of plastic with a conveniently placed hole.  I strung a ribbon through it (because I am so fancy!) tied it to a chair leg, braced my feet against the aforementioned chair leg, wrapped a rubber jar opener around the body of the marker (to improve my grip), and gave it a mighty pull.
Much to my surprise, the blue plastic piece popped right out. Hooray!

But that was when I found out that this pen is a bit tricky.  The ink chamber does not take up the entire body of the marker, and there is another plastic barrier that's we'll need to bust through.

But don't worry, my little chickadees, all in good time.

Next up, I wanted to remove that ugly advertising on the side of the pen.  Girls, break out a cotton pad and some nail polish remover!  (Guys, make a dash to the dollar store for some nail polish remover!  Non-acetone remover will work.)
It took a little elbow grease.  I scrubbed it for about five minutes.  You can see it start to crackle up way before it really comes off.
Anyway, now you can see the remainder of the blue ink forming a line in the middle of the body of the tube.  That's the second barrier that we need to pierce.
Go find a gigantic nail or screw.
Stick that nail in the tube.  You'll feel a small depression in the center.  Push the nail in, and turn. Really push.  Really turn.
I was considering getting a hammer to drive it through, but I didn't want to risk any unexpected thumb injuries.  This method worked out pretty well anyway, since you only need to make a tiny hole.
I took out the nail when I saw a small bit of plastic break off inside the ink chamber.  Then I stuck a toothpick in the hole to double check that it's the right size.
It was a snug fit - which is perfect.

Then I took my ink syringe, stuck the needle right through that tiny hole I just made, and filled up the ink chamber.
Never seen an ink syringe?  You're looking for something like this...(click me!)

Now seriously, make sure not to overfill that lower chamber, because it will drip right out the marker tip and make a fine mess of things! I might know from experience.  (I caught a terrible case of Smurf hands!)
Here's the last step:  Keep the open end up, and snap that colored plastic piece right back where it started.  (It's the blue piece, on this marker.)
I didn't even need to break out any tools for this one, I just used my thumbs to press down on it.

You're done! You've got a refillable highlighter!  Pat yourself on the back, because that was so d.i.y. it hurt!
(Here I am, accidentally drawing on the window sill.  Whoops.  I'm glad I was using water based ink.)

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? 
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail me at
chewytulip (at!) gmail (dot!) com
I have ink suggestions, but I wouldn't want to be too long-winded today.  :)