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
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
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Finish It Up
1. After you've wrapped the wire around several times (Only wrap wire in one direction, otherwise your magnet will be weaker due to the fields fighting against each other) you can tape, glue, or tie a small knot at the end.
Note: Don't wrap the entire metal pipe. The part that has wire will not attract ferrous objects. You need to leave metal showing to use as a magnet.
Now you're all set to test out your new electromagnet.
2. Set up the battery so that it sits on one of the bare wires and hold the other end of the wire in your hand (Don't touch the copper. It'll become hot). Now touch the wire that you're holding to the top of the battery and place your test object near the metal pipe. You may not feel the fields (depending on how much power you're putting through the wires and how many times you wrapped the object), but if you place the test object near the pipe, it should be attracted to it.
Step 3: Making It Stronger and Adding a Handle
See video below:
To make your electromagnet stronger, after you tie the knot (or tape/glue) the end into place, pull the wire alongside the wrapped wire to the starting point and start wrapping the wire around on top of the already wrapped wires. Make sure you go in one direction as you wrap. You can do this as many times as you want, but remember the farther away you get from the center (the metal pipe), the weaker the fields will become.
Note: The magnet's fields won't become weaker, just the coils' fields.
To make a handle:
1. Pull both wires towards the back away from the metal magnet
2. Wrap the wires with electrical tape to keep them from sliding around.
3. Place a piece of foam pipe insulation around the wires. Trim as needed to make a snug fit.
4. Wrap the foam insulation with electrical tape to keep it in place and help prevent heat from leaking out.
Note: Either use a small current if using the electromagnet for long periods or use the magnet for short periods of time if using a good amount of current. Coils = Resistance which give off heat.
There you go, you're all done.