Picture of How To Make An Electromagnet

Magnets are one of the most fun things to experiment with. With a few materials you can easily make your own electromagnet.

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
List of materials:

  • Insulated Copper wire - thin insulation is best, I used crocodile clips and enamelled wired, which is also called magnet wire
  • A Battery
  • An Iron Nail - as used in my 'How To Copper Coat An Iron Nail' video see that here.

(Optional Materials)

  • Iron filings
  • Paper clips

Step 2: Coil The Wire

Picture of Coil The Wire
coil picking up.jpg
Simply running current through a wire produces a weak magnetic field. But this is usually too weak to give us visable results. By coiling the wire closely we amplify the magnetic influence which gives us visable results. The closer these windings are the better the electromagnet will be.

Step 3: Making the magnet stronger

Picture of Making the magnet stronger
To make our electromagnet stronger we can give it an iron core. This will boost the power of our electromagnet and give us better results. This is as simple as winding the copper enamelled wire around an iron nail and securing it with sticky tape. When you connect it to a battery you will a have a stronger electromagnet. There are some simple things we can do to make our electromagnets stronger.

To make electromagnets stronger we must do the following:

  • Add more windings
  • Give it an iron core
  • Increase the current flowing through the wire

Step 4: Make Your Own Iron Filings

Picture of Make Your Own Iron Filings
You can make your own iron filings by filing down a spare iron nail. Don’t forget to put a piece of paper down to catch the filings as they drop and help you see them.

One piece of safety advice, don’t leave your battery in a position where it or the leads attached to it could come into contact with the iron filings. As they are very small, if electricity runs through them they will get super hot and burn.

Here is our video in case you missed it.

tinkrtech16 days ago

did anyone else have an issue with overheating the battery? I made this yesterday with 24ga lacquer coated wire and the battery got very hot and distorted.

:D really helpful thanks :)

TheEpikS5 months ago

This set fire to my house -_-

then you obviously messed up somewheres

billzball1 year ago
43386362i know this might be a stupied question but sench i don't know could you plesase help me i want to make permarent magentic's in differnt shapes and sizes . first can you make a permarent magnetic using a induction coil by turning the field on and off very fast many time's . if not please tell me how to do it. any information could give me that would help
gvardaman1 year ago
I love this! I wonder if putting a regular magnet inside the center, instead of the iron would make it better, worse or no noticeable difference?
Maybe a Neodymium magnet? Those have a very strong pull but very short range.
I can recall trying to make one of these as a kid and attaching a battery to a horseshoe magnet. Of course, it just got hot and killed the battery. :-)
Anyway, thank you for posting!
the whole point of an electromagnet is that you can turn it off. it would be much more efficient to increase one or more aspects of your electromagnet (size of the core, number of turns, or current). keep in mind that there is a limit where more current will add no noticeable increase. in that case, your only option is to increase the size of the core before increasing the other two.

but to answer your question, no, it would not make it noticeably stronger to add an electromagnetic element to a regular magnet. the electrons inside the regular magnet are already aligned, so attempting to align them with the electromagnetic field from a wire coil will do nothing. also, manufactured magnets don't have a regular north/south polarization, and would actually be demagnetized if you were to put a strong magnetic field near it.
Well, that makes perfect sense, thanks.
For turning it off, I suppose my hope was that something like this would work and it could go from strong, but I could pull the item off the magnet by hand, to very strong and hopefully more useful, such as an increase in strength or range.

I would suggest a trip to a hobby shop that carried toy trains, even the small cheap sets Run off of the AC in the wall plug, this runs into an AC to DC converter, goes through a resistance rotary switch, which controls the speed of the train by regulating the DC voltage, theoretically this would allow you to vary the strength of the electro magnet.

I have been toying with this idea lately, I do alot of metal work, and it would be nice to have something like this in the shop, you can make a right angle magnet to hold metal for making tack welds, mount it on a stick and clean up shavings. I have an old train set from when I was a kid, I will have to test it out.
Or, you can use a potentiometer or rheostat to vary the voltage. Remember the handheld trigger from a race car track? Rheostat.

Also, to clarify and expand on my previous reply:
If you added coils to a regular magnet, it wouldn't increase the power of the magnet, but the field from the coils would be added to the field from the magnet. But keep in mind that the coils alone (ie, without a core) will produce a very weak field. The idea of modulating the strength of an electromagnet with a variable resistor is a much better idea and very easy to pull off. Radio shack sells rotary potentiometers.
Go Repairs (author)  gvardaman1 year ago
That's something I've never tried. I've got some neodymium magnets that I'm going to use in future projects, maybe I'll look into it. I'm glad you liked this and thanks for leaving a comment.
Paulus441 year ago
I just was looking for this. I am bust to make a stick catching game. I need eight magnets in a row at a strip of plywood each magnet hold a stick. By of the power of a magnet the stickwill fall down and the person who play the game has to catch the stick.

The O is the magnet and the I are the sticks. If the magnet is on the stick dnt fall. If I off the electric of a magmet the stick fall and the person under the sticks have to catch the stick.
Hope you can understand.
ajensen191 year ago
Make one strong enough to pick up a dumbell lol.
~( :-))={
Thanks for posting
Go Repairs (author)  DemolisionWolf1 year ago
There will be plenty more in the future. Thanks for dropping by.
Vitamin-A1 year ago