I do a lot of sketching and drawing on my iPad. I usually use a stylus, but I recently lost mine. I can draw with my fingers, but I would prefer to use a stylus because it's just easier and I can do more stuff with one. I'm getting a new one soon (probably), but I need something to replace it for a week or two. What is a good substitute for a tablet stylus?

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Aluminum foil works similarly to a stylus. I've successfully created a stylus by wrapping several (~7) layers of aluminum foil over the eraser end of a pencil. Note that the contact points will not be as smooth as with a good stylus (e.g., lines drawn may be dashed) and if the foil rips it may scratch the screen, so be cautious.

  • This is indeed the most easy and cheap way to replace a stylus. Just make sure, that you wrap a big enough piece of aluminum foil over your object (you can use anything you like, for example an empty ballpoint pen or chopsticks) so that your fingers are in contact with the foil when holding your self-made stylus. This is essential, because it's the only way the electrostatic energy can travel from your fingertips to the tablet. – Alex Mar 13 '15 at 7:52

A carrot is a great 'on-the-fly' method, and doubles up as a healthy snack for after.

cheap, and readily available in most homes.

enter image description here

  • If you down-vote me, please tell me why. – Terry Mar 13 '15 at 18:39
  • 2
    I don't really understand the down votes as most people have carrots... It's a very unusual solution too – MrPhooky Mar 14 '15 at 12:34

Using Aluminum foil has already been mentioned by Mooseman. Since there are different ways of crafting your own stylus, I'd like to expand on this a bit.

The following method found on CNET uses aluminum foil as well but also includes a Q-tip to accomplish a screen gentle meeting place:

Here's what you'll need:

  • A cotton swab (aka "Q-tip")
  • Aluminum foil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • A pen

Steps:

  1. Remove the ink from the pen.
  2. Cut the cotton swab at a sharp angle and insert it into the mouth of the pen. Secure with tape.
  3. Wrap the foil around the neck of the pen, a couple of centimeters above the tip of the cotton swab. Wrap tightly, and secure with tape at the top.
  4. Moisten the cotton swab with a drop of water. (No, this will not harm your tablet's or phone's screen.)

This is what the process should look like:

CNET - 2 minute stylus


Another method found on lifehacker uses conductive foam instead of aluminum foil. Here's a video in case you don't like reading instructions.

What you'll need:

  • A small piece of conductive foam (the kind that microchips and other small electronic parts come embedded in)
  • Scissors
  • A not insulated wire or a wire stripper to remove insulation more than twice the length of your pen
  • Tape
  • A pen

Steps:

  1. Remove the ink from the pen.
  2. Disassemble the rear of the pen so that you get a tube. If you can't easily achieve this, you may want to use a different pen or try to break the rear off.
  3. Cut a small stripe off of the conductive foam so it's a little bit wider than the tip of the pen.
  4. Wrap the wire around the foam multiple times at about one-third of the stripe.
  5. Stuff the piece of conductive foam into the tip of the pen, making sure that some of the foam sticks out of the pen and the wire sticks out of the rear of the pen.
  6. Wrap the excess wire around the pen in a spiral course (in direction of the tip).
  7. Fix it in position with tape so that you're touching the wire with your skin while holding the pen normally.
  8. Trim the sticking out foam so that it has a more round shape.

This is how it might look like:

conductive foam stylus

  • 1
    Great answer! Safe for screens and cheap. Only prob, a bit clumsy, but that is the way with a lot of hand made styluses. – Pobrecita Mar 23 '15 at 2:11

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