Instructables

Optionally magnetic screwdriver

Kind of more of an idea then a complex instruction but one that hadn't hit me before and made me go "Why didn't I do this before"?

Magnetic screwdrivers are very handy for keeping screws, especially those so small they are barely visible, stuck to the screwdriver. However, also very unhandy around disks, hard drives, TV sets, etc and not all screwdrivers are in the first place and can be in the way getting the screws off it. With a ferromagnetic but not magnetized screwdriver and a neodyme magnet, you can have it both ways.
 
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Step 1: Put it on

Attach the neodyme to the screwdriver. This temporarily magnetizes the whole thing, strength depending on magnet and closeness to the tip.

Step 2: Use

No more fiddling with keeping a tiny screw stuck - stick it on and put it in or vice versa expect it to be stuck when getting it off. Here I'm using it to replace the battery in a cheap happy meal racing game toy for my daughter (as an additional much narrower tip, an average zinc-air hearing aid battery seems to work instead of the magnesium ones in these, at least to extend it's use as long as she cared).

Step 3: More magnets, more power

Here I'm using two magnets, closer to the tip, for the larger outside screws of the same toy to keep the heavier screws in place. And also a three-wing driver since McD uses those whacky triangle screws for their toys for some reason.

Step 4: Conclusion

Removing the magnet again makes the driver now again non-magnetic, handy for dropping small screws off the tip (into appropriate container rather then the floor hopefully). Some mild magnetism might remain, especially if done often, but no more then from a magnetic hanger stand I would think. It certainly doesn't seem magnetic after, though eventually I suppose it might.
dactadork2 years ago
great idea, but quick ocd moment: hard drives are not affected by magnets, as a matter of fact, there are 2 decent-sized neodymium (aka VERY POWERFUL) magnets enclosed in them
MysticX7 years ago
It actually takes a very strong magnet to mess with a hard drive. I have used magnetic screw drivers on computers for years with no problems. I used the magnet on / magnet off technique once to attach a floppy drive once in a case with very poor access. Overall, a nice instructable which will help other from facing that frustration.
Mystic's right about hard drives. Even floppy drives would have no problems with a magnetic screwdriver. I wouldn't recommend using a floppy disk to rest the screwdriver on though.

As to TVs. Again, a magnetic screwdriver shouldn't be a problem when used to remove/insert screws. Never (read NEVER!!!) use a metal screwdriver of any sort to calabrate a TV or monitor. Always use plastic tuning tools.
LarrySDonald (author)  LasVegas7 years ago
I'm probably a little behind on this and have emotional leftovers that may need to be thrown out. I've messed up a few HDs (and disks by proxy from others leaving magnetic drivers on them) but that was back in the 80s. Still, I'm paranoid about magnets near almost anything. I've never tune a TV with anything but plastic, but ti's kinda the same there, the old school CRTs didn't take a lot of magnetism to distort and not much exposure to make permanent so I'm still not entirely comfortable with anything strongly magnetic close to them. Right or wrong I'd as soon pee on a spark plug (regardless of new versions of spark plugs) then put a magnet near a CRT.
my tvs still got a purple spot from when i was young and stupid (about 7)
I prefer my screwdrivers to be permanently magnetized, just by sliding the Nd magnet, in one direction to the tip of the tool it gets magnetized and can hold all the small screws.
lucanos4 years ago
I have had to use magnetised screwdrivers on a number of occasions (although mainly when working on cars - same principle, if somewhat larger tools and screws/bolts).

Other methods for magnetising the screwdriver which I have used are:

Rubbing with a Magnet
Rather than attaching the magnet to the screwdriver, just running it along the shaft of the screwdriver (a few times, and in one direction) will pass on a weak, temporary magnetic power. Not perfect, but when you are working around alot of ferrous parts and you just need enough "stick" to hold the screw, it can work wonders.

Shock the Screwdriver
Sounds strange, but is a trick I picked up from a mechanic friend - you get some cable (almost any gauge) and twist it around the shaft of the screwdriver (rolling it in one direction and from the handle towards the tip). Touch the ends to a battery for a short period (only a second or two - otherwise, you may melt off the insulation, or screw the battery) and now the shaft should be somewhat magnetic.

Both of these methods are temporary, and not terribly strong, but may also be options for some jobs. Of course, using the second method should never be used with any power source other than a car/bike battery (mains power tends to tickle).
tanmanknex4 years ago
Are you serious? I just barely helped my dad fix our fridge this exact way the other day! We had an awkward crew position and I put magnets on the screwdriver to position the screw! Well, great minds think alike ;D
LarrySDonald (author)  tanmanknex4 years ago
It is a bit of a "thank you captain obvious" tip, but one I'd not thought of for a solid two decades of electronics work before going "Oh, duh". There are a few on magnetizing on here, also pretty quick and easy. The magnet pile also makes a pretty handy storage spot for not dropping things on the floor in tight positions.
True. GO MAGNETS!
ampeyro5 years ago
there is anither way to do this, you can open the transformer of an olt microwave oven, i accidentaly magnetized most of my iron tools when trying to repair it
and its neodymium i think dictionary is sometimes wrong
ya its neodymium
LarrySDonald (author)  ich bin ein pyro7 years ago
May be correct for all I know. Dammit Jim, I'm a programmer not a metallurgist.
ive tried this before never actually screwed something in but it was fun to play with
xboxteen017 years ago
cool,i once considered an electromagnetic type but this is much easier. i may still try one out though.nice job
yeah, when i get a new screw driver or drill bit, i magnatize them. (its a pain to screw stuff into small places with a non mag-tized driver) I reccomend using a neodynium magnet (get 2 of em from a old hard drive.)
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