Introduction: How to Take Apart a Microwave

Picture of How to Take Apart a Microwave

Taking apart microwaves can be dangerous, on this instructable I will show you how to take apart a microwave safely and explain the parts and what you can do with them...

I found this microwave (pictured) lying around in the streets, I took it home with me and took it apart, meanwhile, I decided to make an instructable so you can get an idea of how to take apart a microwave and what its parts can be used for.

Step 1: What Equipment You Will Need...

You will need tools to take apart a microwave, your bare hands won't work. :-)

  • A set of screw drivers with different shapes and sizes.
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Alligator clip
  • Hammer (you don't need this unless something needs to be banged apart)

You might need other types of tools depending on the type of microwave you are going to take apart.

Step 2: Warning!

Picture of Warning!

Yeah, thats right, taking apart microwave can be very dangerous if you do it improperly...

There is an high voltage capacitor in there that can be still charge and can give out an lethal shock.

Step 3: Begin Taking Off the Cover

Picture of Begin Taking Off the Cover

Start taking the top cover off carefully and try avoid touching the wiring!

Step 4: Discharge the Capacitor

Picture of Discharge the Capacitor

Locate the capacitor, it should be near the big fat chunk of metal, the high voltage transformer. Then get your alligator clips and very carefully touch both terminals of the capacitor...

You may get an loud "SNAP" (which is unlikely) and that indicate the capacitor is discharged, do this a few more time to really make sure the capacitor is discharged..

And you're done! The microwave is safe to gut out!

Step 5: Gut Out the Microwave

Picture of Gut Out the Microwave

Well, what are you waiting for? Gut the microwave part you want!

Step 6: What to Do With All of This Stuff?

Picture of What to Do With All of This Stuff?

After you had gutted the microwave, you can find a lot of pretty good stuff, read on through the instructable to fine out what they are and what you could do with them!

Step 7: The Magnetron

Picture of The Magnetron

This device, the magnetron, is what heats up our foods...

There is hardly any use for this device, but the magnetron have two very large and powerful ceramic magnets! You can hack the magnetron open and extract the magnets and use them for your other projects.

Step 8: The High Voltage Transformer

Picture of The High Voltage Transformer
Now this one, is the most dangerous microwave component of all... The high voltage transformer...

The transformer give out 2Kv (2000) AC with outputs of 500mA to 2 amps, far more than enough to instantly kill a person...

The transformer can be put to good use for many high power projects, but most often, people would mod them, and use them to draw arcs for fun... But that is going to be another instructable...

Here is an video of me drawing arcs and lighting sparklers with the microwave transformers.

For some very odd reason, after the sparkler is burnt out, the arcs are much longer, I don't know why it is doing it... Can any body give me an explanation?

Step 9: Capacitor and Diode

Picture of Capacitor and Diode

You can use those for some of your high power projects like tesla coils, can crusher, ect.

Step 10: Line Filter

Picture of Line Filter

Those things can be useful if you know what you are doing with them...

Step 11: Cooling Fan

Picture of Cooling Fan

You can use the fan to cool your self down on a hot day...

I used it as a ventilation fan for my workshop to get rid of all or the solder fumes and other smokes...

Step 12: Turntable Motor

Picture of Turntable Motor

Those motors spin very slowly, you can add an plate on it rotors and display your things on the table.

Step 13: Power Relay and Light Bulb

Picture of Power Relay and Light Bulb

You can use the relay for heavy load switching and if the light bulb still works, you can save it as an replacement bulb for other microwaves.

Step 14: Bell and Timers

Picture of Bell and Timers

You could use them as a timer for something?

Step 15: Thermal Fuses

Picture of Thermal Fuses

Sometimes, you can find an thermal fuse(s) in a microwave - often found near the magnetron. They are used to break the circuit from the mains if the magnetron overheats...

Step 16: Safety Switches

Picture of Safety Switches

The safety switches can be found near the door. You can use it for safety on your other projects or possibly build a beam robot with it...

Step 17: Heating Tubes

Picture of Heating Tubes

Very strangely, my microwave has two quartz halogen heater tubes.

If you have those tubes, you could use it to make your own heater, or you can salvage the tubes for the nichrome wire (heating element) and use it for some of your other experiments...

Step 18: The End

Well, I hope you find this instructable helpful!

If you have any questions, or need help, or found an error, or anything, make a comment!
I like comments! :-)


dflounders (author)2013-12-13

Daft gits! Discharging of large capacitors should be Dr be done with jump leads, screwdrivers, etc, that will cause a zero ohm resistive short circuit. Use something like a 2 watt - 2Kohm resistor across the cap terminals. You only need a few hundred milliamp shock to put your heart into cardiac arrest. Yes, caps usually discharge quick, assuming they are designed properly and the unit is not faulty, but neither case is guaranteed. Safety first or lose your tool.

SethJ13 (author)2016-12-10

is it a bad thing if your magnetron was the part that burned?

sverige (author)2016-10-09

the magnetron has two beryllium insulators on the ends, they are the colored ceramic things on it. The dust from these WILL give you cancer. don't break them. also getting shocked from a microwave capacitor is the most unpleasant thing that has ever happened to me. don't touch it.

trust_me_im_a_dolphin (author)2015-03-14

I did it, but I had an accident. I've accidentally got shocked by the capacitor. It was TERRIBLE! I didn't feel my whole hand for about an hour. I'm very lucky to be alive ?

I assure you one would rather be electrocuted than die of berylliosis.

NicoleS47 (author)2015-10-25

FYI there are a lot of very dangerous ideas in the instructions and comments.

Capacitors can kill you. High voltage transformers can kill you. Magnetrons can hurt you really badly or maybe kill you.

Always wear insulated gloves & use insulated tools designed for high-voltage use if you insist on disassembling a microwave.

Always discharge the capacitor properly as dflounders said using a 2 watt - 2000 ohm resistor while wearing insulated gloves designed for high-voltage protection.

Never power up the magnetron or disassemble it. Even if you try to build some shielding, unless you're an electrical engineer you're not going to have much chance of doing it right.

The microwave uses a Faraday cage to contain the microwave radiation. You can't kludge one of these together safely.

BlakeJ11 (author)NicoleS472016-06-16

I have officially decided to NOT AT ALL EVER take apart a microwave.

I personally prefer not dying, as well as not being irradiated.

NicoleS47 (author)NicoleS472015-10-25

oh yeah the reason not to disassemble the magnetron for the magnets is the barium oxide, which will kill you as mentioned by other comments. this is all very stupid.

yankleber (author)2016-04-25

My overall advice is: NEVER play with stuff that you don't know how if works. Along my life I have heard about several awful accidents resulting in serious injury and death by curious people disassembling or misusing things such as microwave ovens, airbags, medical radioactive equipment, air compressors, laboratory disposed matter, guns, etc. Just leave such stuff alone!

libertyrules (author)yankleber2016-05-19

Good thing Tesla wasn't guided by your "Just leave such stuff alone!" advice.

For Better Or Worse (author)2010-03-04

In my opinion, it would be sheer stupidity to fire up an unshielded magnetron. Not only would it cause cancer, but if left on for a few seconds, and your body would look like a tv dinner that was just cooked. If you want to fire one up, use sheet metal(steel) as shielding, and be warned that electronics would be fryed and probably your hand to if you stuck it in the why of the microwave beam.

It doesnt cause cancer as it has no ionizing radiation. For any future people.

AaronT9 (author)2015-07-19

Be extremely careful when you want to take the magnetron apart for the diode and 2 ferro magnets, because the ceramic isolators on each end (cylindrical pieces about an inch wide) tend to be made up of Barium Oxide, which is very toxic.

LandauMartin (author)2015-05-19

Seriously chaps, DO NOT TAKE APART the magnetron UNLESS you know what you are doing! that pink stuff inside it is beryllium oxide. If you scratch and breath in that stuff it will give an incurable disease called "berylliosis"

The HV cap discharging method is highly undesirable because it might give a very surprising spark and likely ruin or shorten the life of the cap, so a high wattage 1k or higher resistor is best for discharging it. ( the cap has a bleed resistor inside it, but i would still discharge it first)

tails doll black (author)2015-04-12

i turned mine into a house fan :3

McGee 2021 (author)2015-04-05

The only thing I found in my microwave was an enormous wasp nest. :(

trust_me_im_a_dolphin (author)2015-03-14

Marius de Jess (author)2015-02-11

Please read the quote as follows.

[Quote begins]

Microwave - Normal Operational Characteristics for a

It is normal to experience any of the following with a
microwave oven:


Dull thumping
sound or hum while cooking at power levels other than high.

When using a power
level other than HIGH or 10 the magnetron tube cycles on and off to obtain the
lower power. This cycling of the magnetron tube causes this dull thumping, pulsating,
or humming noise. When combination cooking in microwave/convection models, the
cycling of the convection element and fan will alternate continuously with the
hum of the magnetron and the fan.


[Quote ends]

What do you mean by power cycle, high and low, so that low
power cycles can cause noise while high power cycles will not.

What I know is that high power or low power cycles depend
upon how long in time period the magnetron is working and how long in time
period it stops working until the next period of work to be interrupted again
by the period of non-work; and the joined period of work and of non-work is set
by the human operator using the power knob or button.

My problem is the following:

Power is set at maximum – no interruption of work for magnetron: for the first 2 minutes
more or less of magnetron operation it emits a jackhammer noise which stops at
the end of the 2 minutes period, and the magnetron continues to operate
'quietly' until it stops at the completion of the adjusted operation period or
I turn it off.

This microwave oven is not digital but mechanical in its
control, it had been in service for over 7 years. It started blowing up the
power fuse, and upon changing the power capacitor the normal function was
restored and it works as before except for the noise which was not present

Please suggest some solutions; I notice that it seems the
magnetron now needs to get heated up before the noise will go away.

Please ask your engineers to investigate the mechanics and physics
of heat and noise and vibration in the operation of perhaps an overly aged

Thanks in advance for your reply by email.

My email:

bobbyrae (author)2009-09-23

It is true that you could be killed or injured from the high voltage, but it is also true that if the oven is working correctly at the time, the capacitor will discharge in about a second after the magnetron shuts off and so there is no worry in that case. I firmly believe that if that ground wire (which should normally be connected to one side of the capacitor) is present AND the unit is plugged into the wall, this will also drain the capacitor pretty quickly. So a lot of these warnings are just CYA from the lawyers. It should also be noted that while the voltage in the magnetron can 2.5kV to 4KV, the voltage from the charged capacitor has nothing to do with that. It will just discharge.

Andy-K (author)bobbyrae2015-01-14

I know this is an old comment. But please anyone reading this do not take this advice. The capacitor contained in microwaves can store electricity for a long period of time after power has been removed. Even in a microwave that still works. Always always discharge caps that are found even if your pretty sure they are safe.

junior engineer (author)bobbyrae2012-04-05

is this all microwaves or just some because I'm the type of person how likes staying alive!!

michaelsmith11_99 (author)2014-03-23

Just a word about microwave don't need lead. actually, microwave radiation is blocked by ordinary glass. This is assuming that you are not generating a spark accidentally or deliberately. Those high voltage sparks and constant arcs also generate Shorter wavelengths such as UV radiation as well as X-rays, Gamma, ect...that, with enough exposure can give you a burn that will put your worse sunburn to shame. In this case you do need lead shielding. Be Careful!

BFeely (author)michaelsmith11_992014-12-19

Glass is actually transparent to microwaves (unless it is molten). What shields the microwaves from escaping the oven is the metal screen whose holes are too small for microwaves to fit through.

Arcs generated from microwave excitement is unlikely to generate X-rays (which requires a high voltage discharge in a vacuum) or gamma rays (which requires certain kinds of radioactive decay). Short wavelength UV can be easily blocked by ordinary glass though.

junior engineer (author)2012-04-05

do you have to discharge the capacitor? if so can I just use insulated screw drivers?!?!

_CrashA_ (author)junior engineer2014-10-29

Unless you want to kill yourself then of course you need to discharge the capacitor! That's like asking if you need to turn off an appliance before messing with its electronics.

dlowther (author)junior engineer2012-10-12

You should always attempt to discharge any capacitor you find before messing with it. And yes, insulated screw driver would work.

dillonxti (author)2014-10-22

if you take the wires from the motor and put them on somebody and turn the motor fast with pliers or something you will shock them

karatedragon6 (author)2014-06-17


be careful using that transformer!

check out my similar instructable,how to take apart a laptop

please comment if seen

ne171pro (author)2009-09-15

Magnetron Hardly Any Use? I'm not trying be rude but your PDF here showed me how to take apart my microwave so I could get the magnetron. (not for its magnets) Anybody out here that can help wire up my magnetron. I'm really not stupid with electricity, I cant for the life of me get it to do what I'm seeing freaking 14 year olds do. I know its not broken components (have 3 taken apart microwaves.) Is it the ground wire you touch it with? Or is just some other wire not in the circuit. Man I'm so frustrated.

muttyfutty (author)ne171pro2009-09-20

Chill!!!! Firstly why the hell do you want to power up the magnitron? these things are WACKO dangerous! can cause cancer, etc... Maby its best ytou leave that component alone... unless you are firing it up in a propaly shielded and controlled inviroment

ne171pro (author)muttyfutty2010-04-21

 Did you know cellphones are microwaves?  

Did you know with phased array antenna, Tesla coil, microwave, oscilloscope and RF generator you can power all your house's with limitless wireless free energy, an so much more?  Even cure aids and cancer.

polarluv9000 (author)ne171pro2014-02-14

yes i did know that

muttyfutty (author)ne171pro2010-04-22

Totaly Correct,
But there is a huge difference between hand/cell/mobile phones and magnetron (lol)

But, I'm not too certain on all the cure for AIDS thing...

master key (author)muttyfutty2010-02-23

You know I don't think a magnetron can cause cancer.

tristantech (author)master key2010-04-13

Actually, exposure to high-power electromagnetic radiation can disrupt cell processes and DNA which may lead to cancer.

muttyfutty (author)master key2010-02-24

Well, According to wikipedia: "Some but not all studies suggest that long-term exposure may have a carcinogenic effect"
As well as produce cataracts.
not very nice at all!
(do you know how I remove those hyperlinks?)

hbell (author)ne171pro2011-08-27

Jesus christ dont power up the magnetron! the electromagnetic radiation could easily kill you, as could the transformer. If you cant wire up the transformer, how would you build an enclosure for the microwaves? Im not trying to offend you, but it sounds far too dangerous.

master key (author)hbell2013-06-15

not if you know what you're doing

static (author)ne171pro2011-08-13

A bit of additional info on the magnetron  This article gives detail on removing the magnets  Magnetrons contain materials than can be a health hazard if they are reduced to a size where they can enter the lungs, I don't have clue to the actual risk factor, just visit to decide for yourself.

dog digger (author)ne171pro2011-01-02

You could just look at the wiring in the microwave before you start clipping wires.
I highly recommended not to power the magnetron up!

polarluv9000 (author)2014-02-14

my mom wouldnt let meh take apart our microwave :( hmmph can someone take apart theirs for meh :DDD?!

janika (author)2013-08-15

hi I want to use the microwave transformers for a forge heater please tel me how regard janika

agatornz (author)2013-06-22

my mate reckons you just take the plugs off the capacitor and take it out and chuck it in the river to short it? before taking it out for the bin? is this a new fishing technique or pointless?>

Vulnic (author)2011-11-06

I'm still very concerned about discharging the capacitor. Would it make it any safer to use one of those wrist chords used when building/fiddling around inside a computer to clip onto something metal and ground you?? I mean it's not as if you get another shot at this if it goes wrong.... like they say 'There's not many DUMB electricians left in the world ... they're all dead"

master key (author)Vulnic2013-06-15

grounding your self is a stupid idea. that means if you touch only one pole of the capacitor your guaranteed to get a shock. (Assuming is charged) But don't worry about the risk of getting shocked I never discharge anything. All I do is wear gloves and try not to use both hands while taking apart high voltage stuff.

369ben (author)2009-08-17

Hi, Does anyone know how to take apart the transformer to get the coils from it? Or how to take apart the solenoid next to the fan in the microwave to get the coils? Thanks any info will be helpful:-}

master key (author)369ben2013-06-15

that wasn't a solenoid next to the fan. Thats the fans coil which turns the shaft

mgingerich (author)369ben2012-08-14

Getting coils out of a transformer is tricky, since the iron core is impossible to separate from the coils without damaging them. I would suggest winding your own coils out of enameled magnet wire instead.

streetrod5 (author)mgingerich2013-02-22

If you're having trouble getting the coils out of the transformer core, check out MattsAwesomeStuff for a good video tutorial, and also The King Of Random's Instructable here. Good info! I used guidance from both of them to successfully (safely!) separate the core and extract the coils. Good luck with your own project!

Bobey (author)2013-04-28

It is so easy people

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