How To Build Your Own Tablet Stylus

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how to make a stylusSteve Jobs was quite right when he said “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” While a good touchscreen should never require you to use a stylus for standard operations, there are tasks when using your fingers is a bit awkward. For example if you want to digitize your signature, take quick handwritten notes or simply draw, a stylus can come in very handy.

You can find a large selection of tablet styluses online and many are very cheap. However, given the fact that the technology hidden inside a capacitive stylus is extremely simple, you can just as well build it yourself.

Building your own stylus is easy, fun, and you must likely have all the materials at home already. All you need is an old pen and conductive material that transports the static electricity of your fingers onto the display. Conductive materials are, for example, most metals and water.

Here is a suggested list of ingredients:

  • old pen
  • wire, e.g. from an old electric cable
  • soft conductive material, e.g. household foam
  • a pair of scissors or a cutter

So here is what I did. I took a household foam and cut off a small piece.

how to make a stylus

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Then I disassembled an old plastic pen.

build a stylus

I used wire with about 2.5 times the length of the pen and wrapped it around the foam…

build a stylus

…and tested the raw stylus on my tablet to make sure it works. You can also test the foam by itself before you combine it with the wire.

build a stylus

Next, I pulled the wire with its end first through the narrow tip of the pen and wrapped the wire around the outside of the pen, all the way to the bottom. If you want you can secure the end with some tape. Just make sure that you will touch the wire when you hold the pen. The screenshot below shows the first test with my self made stylus.

create a stylus

To make it look a little nicer, I trimmed the tip. If your foam is very soft, like mine is, you will mostly be drawing with the side of it. It may be worth playing with different foams, to see which ones give you the best result. Note that if your foam is not super conductive, you can also wet it a little to get better results.

create a stylus

Finally, here is my finished stylus.

how to make a stylus

This is a very simple way to build a stylus with cheap materials and with almost no tools.

You can create a much more stylish and sophisticated stylus, for example by using a metal pen. This eliminates the need for the wire, as the pen itself will transport your hand’s static electricity to the foam, which in turn will conduct it onto the tablet’s touchscreen.

If you don’t have a metal pen, but some more tools, you could drill holes into a plastic pen where you will touch it with your fingers and then let the wire exist the pen and make contact with your skin at these spots.

The video below shows how Collin from Make. made his DIY capacitive stylus.

That was simple, right? We would love to see your homemade stylus! Please share your photos in the comments.

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Comments (50)
  • Anand S

    It works!!! Thank you ….

  • tdubya

    This looks like the most ghetto piece of crap ive ever seen.

  • Victor Ong

    What software is that?

    • Tina

      What do you mean? The app I used to write on the screen?

      It’s a random drawing app for Android. I didn’t pick it with intention, but in case you really want to know, it’s called Draw & Share. It’s actually not optimized for tablets, but works OK.

  • Kao Vang

    Didn’t like the fact that water gets on my tablet. Maybe it was due to the material I used.

  • jj

    And Steve Jobs created the iphone with an onscreen keyboard to this day my fingertips are just too big to use at all. It took me 25 minutes to put in my wi-fi password for my niece because my fingertips are as large as two letters.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.