Picture of Make a Simple Electromagnet
Ever have a project that needed a certain kind of magnet, yet you didn't have what you needed? Maybe you wanted to be able to switch the magnet on and then off, but lack the knowledge on how to create such a wonderful thing? Now (after following my steps) you'll know how to make a basic one.

I needed to create an electromagnet for a project, so I decided to document the steps to show how to create your very own electromagnet.

Warning: The more current you place through the wire, the more heat it will give off and could start a fire if it becomes too hot. The wires will be hot after putting current through them. You can use thicker wires to allow more current. Recommended wire type is copper.

1. Phone Line (or small insulated copper wires such as magnet wire)
2. Wire Stripper
3. Scissors
4. Pliers
5. D Batteries (power source)
6. Tape or glue
7. Ferrous metal object such as a pipe or nail
8. Small ferrous object to test with (small screw, nail, etc.)
9. Time on your hands

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Step 1: Simon says: Strip!!!

Picture of Simon says: Strip!!!

1. Strip the phone lines of their outside sheathing. Don't cut into the interior wires. As you move along, you'll need to use the pliers to push the sheathing off. If you can, try to strip at least two to three feet (that's all you'll need to make this simple magnet).

2. Bare the ends of the wires (If you had to cut the wires, bind the bare ends together to create a long wire and place tape over the bare spots). Now take one end and place it up next to the metal object you wish to make into a magnet.

3. Either glue or tape it into position to prevent it from unraveling.

4. Now start wrapping your wire around the metal object as shown in the video below.

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CharlieC6 years ago
I have read your instructions on making an Electro Magnet, but wanted one very strong; so I used a 3/8 X 6 inch bolt. I wrapped it 8 or 10 times with 18 AWG Magnet Wire. It doesn't work with a D-Cell or a 9-volt battery, so I hooked it to a car battery, which made the strong magnet that I need. however, the wire and bolt got very hot, very quickly. If I can get this working, it will be used in a very rapid, steady "on-off" situation. What must I do to accomplish my goal?
use gloves so you won't burn yourself
yes u can use gloves but what about the surface that it is sitting on
have you tried covering it whith electric tape?
have you tried covering it whith electric tape?
Better late than never Charli :).

To get a strong electromagnet, you will be basing your build off of what kind of current (amps) you can get, and the number of turns.

The more current you get, the more crowded the wire is for the current to pass through, so it will become hot. To reduce the amount of heat building up, you will want to use thicker wires.

If that's not possible, then perhaps a resistor connected in series would help reduce the current to a level that doesn't heat the wires. You will limit the strength of the magnet by doing this. A lower current can be compensated for with even more turns.

Magnetic force = I * N where as I is current and N is amount of turns.

This is somewhat simplified and english is not my native language. I hope this might help you, or anyone else out there reading this.
by doing that it may make it even hotter as you have all the resistance from the resitor plus the wire would make it hotter
i like ur info NIGHT CRAWL
its gud
Nightcrawl== the equation "magnetic force = I * N" is helpful, but what unit of measurement is relevant? for example, is the force measured in Pounds/ square inch?

The reason I ask is that I need to create a magnet with approximately 50 pounds of pulling power. This magnet needs to be switched on/off quickly and repeatedly, most likely with a "squeeze" trigger. Can you possibly give me the necessary specs to create this kind of magnet? Thank you very much for your help, and anyone else's suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.
ross man2 years ago
i have tried countless times to make a electromagnet to put under a grinder to pick up the little grinds but a epic faliure hits every time
vela.u4 years ago
it is a waste of tym
i didn't understood a bit
kj00014 years ago
how do you make a stronger electromagnet so you could put one in a glove with a switch?
octavian2344 years ago
I wrapped a strand of the ethernet cord around a iron nail and attached the leads to a D battery. The wire got really hot but I couldnt get any magnetic pull on the second iron nail i had right next to it
pyrorower5 years ago
Just wondering, do the wire have to be solid or can it be a stranded wire?
I'm pretty sure it doesnt matter
jinventive7 years ago
HINT: To stop the coil from overheating, you could wrap a layer of electrical tape over each layer of wire you add :)
FrenchCrawler (author)  jinventive7 years ago
That would weaken the magnetic force created on the piece of metal and would take up a lot of extra space. And that would trap the heat for only so long before it would escape. If you wanted to put together a real electromagnet (not one that was done in a hurry), you cold use small DC fans inside of a plastic handle to draw the heat away...
No, it would NOT. The flux depends on the total number of turns*current. Tape simply adds some volume to the coil but will not weaken the flux generated. No offence but some of your suggestions could hurt people which is uncalled for considering you can wind a megnet which can life 100's of pounds (yes hundreds) using a single D-cell flashlight battery! how's that for major, and safe!
You seem to talk alot about magic things you can do because you've "been an Electronics engineer for 25 years" but you haven't actually given any suggestions at all. Please do explain how you could "wind a megnet " that can "life 100's of pounds". If you do not have a helpful suggestion, then kindly STFU. I found this instructable to be quite interesting and helpful.
Ninth sneigke6 years ago
Can you describe how this is done?
besides, heat should NOT be an issue!
sneigke sneigke6 years ago
BTW, I've been an Electronics engineer for 25 years. And I know what I'm talking about.
lukeyj155 years ago
 AH! See, I was trying it with insulated copper wire. Shall try with stripped cat5 cable.
dciocoiu5 years ago
How can i make a 1016 Hz electromagnet?
pyroal5 years ago
Why do you have diffrent wires. I'm trying to make this for a telegraph .
How many turns of approx 48AWG wire should I use for a electromagnet that draws no more than 0.25A at 24VAC for a relay?
Which will not overheat over extended periods of time.
killer wj6 years ago
Then how do u switch the magnet on and off?
Killer WJ == put a simple "ON - OFF" switch in one line between the power source and the contact.
Good Luck.

FrenchCrawler (author) 8 years ago
Quick question: How'd my instructable join the "Robotics" group? This isn't really considered robotic type stuff, is it?
Currently, all the groups are public and any group member can add any projects to a group; think of the groups as filters to show members and Instructables in a unique way. We're rethinking this and will soon have a more traditional group system: public groups, moderated groups, etc...
FrenchCrawler (author)  ewilhelm8 years ago
Thanks for the reply. I was wondering how my instructable got into their group and now I know. Now I'm off to make my last magnetic instructable (Using the electromagnet above except stronger. I'm updating on how to make the electromagnet stronger in a minute before I leave though and how to make a handle for it).
Please see my notes at the top of this Blog and see if you can possibly help me? I would truly appreciate the help. THANX CharlieC
CharlieC6 years ago
Is no one on this blog anymore? I am sure from reading the other comments that someone has an answer to my problem; but no one answers. Maybe it's because we are so close to Thanksgiving. Oh well, please have a good Thanksgiving. CharlieC
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You can use Cat 6 cable, but I suggest taking each wire out of the main casing to do the wrapping. The magnetic field will become stronger with each wrapping, but as the wrappings move further away, the effect will diminish within the wrappings themselves. To make the effect stronger you can either just increase the voltage/amperage (to a certain degree, too much and the heat generated will melt the wires. That's if you want to make a super strong magnet) or make more wrappings and increase the voltage/amperage. The area wrapped with wires won't be usable as the magnet (unless you have a thick/wide piece of metal much like industrial magnets... ex: junkyard magnet). You need to keep an area of the metal clear of the wires to be used as the magnet.
The VA is irrelevant. Stronger == more wire, not melt the wires with excessive current.

Do you have any electronics theory under your belt? Just curious and not meant as in insult, but your ideas are going to hurt people because basically you don't seem to have a clue as to what you're doing in a correct way.
i could ask the same question to you, increasing the amperage would increase the power of the magnet. just try it; go on, I dare you
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best thing to do is find an old heay AC transformer the ones that were on phone chargers and so on. once you have removed the soft laminated iron block and plastic wrap you have two thicknesses of laminated and insulated copper windings. if your patient and look at how they are made so you can easly dismantle them, you get a very very good wire to use on your magnet! even using the laminated metal sheets together as your magnetic core. the time you spend taking one apart is worth it if you want a really good winding medium. and if you want an very powerful electromagnet.
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