Introduction: Reusing Old Hard Drive Magnets

Picture of Reusing Old Hard Drive Magnets

Old hard drives have a way of hanging around past their useful life. Recently, I found I still had a lot of 2 to 30 GB drives in a box, so I decided to take the magnets out and reuse them. The magnets are great because they are very strong Neodymium that will hold anything firmly in place. These magnets are usually mounted to some sort of metal bracket with holes which will help you mount them and gives strength to the brittle magnets.

To take apart hard drives you need a few small Torx drivers, usually T6, T7 and T8. Usually there are a few screws that are hidden under the stickers. Feel the tops of the stickers to see if there is a screw underneath and run a razor around the outline to expose it. Once the lid is off, you usually have to take the read/write heads off to get the magnets off. Careful with these magnets, they are very strong and will probably pinch your fingers if they get between them.

Step 1: Fish Tape Retriever

Picture of Fish Tape Retriever

I find new uses for this thing all the time. Originally I made it to pull a fish tape out of a wall when it wouldn't come near the opening. It worked great for that so I wrapped it up and stuck it to my tool box. Since then I have used it to pull seat belts through poorly designed child car seats and retrieved a nail punch that got stuck inside a door jam.

The dental floss is great because it doesn't really knot up and its incredibly strong for how light it is. It also wraps up really tightly and doesn't unravel unless you want it to.

Step 2: Special Tool Holder

Picture of Special Tool Holder

My table saw has a nice storage spot for blades and the tools to change the blades. Unfortunately, you only have so much room to store more blades. I plan to add a stacked dado set to this collection soon. Since my next purchase will probably max out the space I have left, I decided to maximize the space by epoxying magnets to the underside of the table top. This way I can store a few more blades and the tools never get in the way when you are fumbling through the stack of blades.

I used plumber's epoxy putty for this because its easy to use and doesn't require a bowl to mix it. You just kneed it together in your fingers and stick it to something before it starts to set up. Once I was done with that I traced the outlines of the wrenches on the tabletop so I wouldn't forget where I put them. These magnets hold the wrenches tightly in place and I don't have to worry that they will fall off.

Step 3: Special Tool Holder 2

Picture of Special Tool Holder 2

I built this cheap router table for my radiator cover Instructable and I decided to do something similar to my table saw tool storage. Because the top is made of wood, I used the holes in the magnet's bracket to attach another magnet to the underside of this table top. I traced the outline of the router's wrench on the table top so I don't forget where it is. Now I have a neat place to store my router's specialty wrench.

Step 4: Worklight Cabinet Mount

Picture of Worklight Cabinet Mount

I have this rechargeable LED work light that comes with a magnetic holder to clip it to a toolbox.  I decided to mount it over my workbench to give me a little extra light and store it where I could keep it charged. I could have used a piece of sheet metal, but I wanted to really secure it in place under the cabinet, so I used another hard drive magnet.

Step 5: Recycle the Rest

After I take the magnets out, I take the remaining hard drive parts to the recycling center and drop them in the e-waste dumpster. New Jersey has made it a state law that all towns have to accept electronic waste for recycling.


AmluxGaming (author)2016-10-03

My 2 tb hard drive failed recently and i was wondering, how many magnets are in a hard drive?

Yonatan24 (author)AmluxGaming2016-10-06

Probably 2.

JmsDwh (author)Yonatan242016-10-06

Yeah, I would say 1 or 2. You will usually only get about a square inch of Neodymium out of one of these drives, but if you are like me you probably have a few old drives hanging around.

Yonatan24 (author)JmsDwh2016-10-06

Most of the ones that I've taken apart had 2. Some of them have only one, and I think they are made this way because they want to annoy me!

Keep in mind that laptops have pretty small ones, and HDD's from desktop computers normally have really big ones.

SherylinRM (author)2016-07-28

Take the side of an old computer case. Make it flat and put it on the wall. [Use the holes to screw it in place if you wish].

Then use the magnets as a holder for things.

The case side now becomes a magnetic board.

Great ideas here. I like them thanks :)

JmsDwh (author)SherylinRM2016-07-31

Thanks! I've been meaning to put a couple new uses I've found together for a follow-up.

jocker912 (author)2016-07-10

getting magnets off is easy, place magnet holder in vise, not magnet, bent holder and it will peal holder away from magnet near edge breaking glue joint, remove with screw driver

JmsDwh (author)jocker9122016-07-12

Nice! I have a few new uses to add to this when I get a chance.

jocker912 (author)2016-07-10

need to put shelves on metal desk?

infinit placement possibility?

magnets on metal angle awesome

tired of screws falling off ladder

put magnet under top step screws stay in place until needed

JmsDwh (author)jocker9122016-07-12

All good ideas, thanks!

amiir (author)2015-07-01

how should i seperate the magnet from its holder ?

some magnets getting out with a screw driver and hammer :D

but some of them do not getting out!

is there any other easy way to seperate them ?

uncle frogy (author)2015-03-16

I screwed a bunch of them in a row on a piece of oak which I fastened to the wall above my kitchen counter now I can always find a sharp knife

uncle frogy

JmsDwh (author)uncle frogy2015-04-01

Great idea! I have one of those long tool strip magnets that they sell for holding your most used wrenches and other tools in your workshop, but if I had enough of these left I could definitely extend that further down my workbench.

TimothyM1 (author)2014-11-08

I like a lot of these ideas here.

TimothyM1 (author)2014-11-08

I like a lot of these ideas here.

TimothyM1 (author)2014-11-08

I like a lot of these ideas here.

TimothyM1 (author)2014-11-08

I like a lot of these ideas here.

TimothyM1 (author)2014-11-08

I've been using them for over 15 years since I had a computer repair shop taking them apart for the scrap one of the mags stuck to a table boy these things are strong. Now it's 2014 and I'm looking into building a magnetic generator and thought of them. If you can them close enough just before they stick together they push their self away so I'm going to put them on a bike rim getting them just right for the push to turn the wheel which will turn a motor. I just started the project and taking the hard drives apart now.

Ev (author)2014-08-18

Great ideas! You can remove the very brittle magnets from the metal keepers by clamping one end of the keeper in a vice and use a wrench or pliers to bend the other end away from the magnet, it will pop off in one piece. If you stack the magnets they'll be stronger. Use a router to make a pocket in the other side of a piece of wood where you want to hold a tool. Epoxy it in and it will stick to the wood. Glue a stack inside a 1.5 or 2" diameter PVC pipe. Use caps and elbows to make a long tool to pick up metal scrap or parts from the floor or worktable. Slide the parts away from the magnets to remove them. Wrap bare magnets in duct tape with a tail so you can remove them. The tape has friction that will hold paper or cardboard in place on a metal surface.

vvulovic (author)2014-01-14

Any guidance on where to find old hard drives? i heard freecycle is useful. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

JmsDwh (author)vvulovic2014-01-15

Freecycle would work, but I haven't looked on there in a long time. You might try putting up an ad on craigslist to say you are looking for them. You would be surprised what people have laying around.

wolfgang64 (author)2012-11-18

Three years ago I bought a top end fridge,two years ago the closer magnets stopped working. I glued in two of these and they works great!

AndyGadget (author)2012-09-09

A person who has not taken apart a hard drive is a person with no sense of curiosity!
HERE's another use for the magnet from one.

Unless they've been taking apart radios and hasn't got round to the hard!

bricabracwizard (author)2012-10-01

I love your router table. I hope you do do an 'ible for this, I could use it!

yanni50 (author)2012-09-10

I found a really easy but good use for these magnets too.
One of my bedroom doors would not shut completely and always left a gap. I bought a small rounded metal bar and screwed the bar to protrude slightly near the bottom of the door and I screwed the magnet on the frame side. Now the door just snaps shut when close properly.

bricabracwizard (author)yanni502012-10-01

That's a great idea!

darman12 (author)2012-09-14

I have an Instructable outlining how to take a hard drive apart....if you want to check it out: GEEK-TO-YOU: How to take apart a hard-drive (humor included)!

wazzup105 (author)2012-09-11

I mounted one on the underside of the roof of each of the a guinea pig cages so I could relocate the portable camera system from cage to cage just by picking it off one magnet and clicking it onto the new desired location.

Turning the camera just so it would face exactly the right way we wanted it was the hard part.

Phil B (author)2012-09-08

A friend with a lot of computer repair expertise first made me aware of hard drive magnets, and gave me a few. I have used them in a couple of Instructables. See this one and this one.

JmsDwh (author)Phil B2012-09-10

Those are great! Thanks Phil, I especially liked the wire caddy for your welder. Does it ever slip down and scratch the side of your welder?

Phil B (author)JmsDwh2012-09-10

I leave the wooden form on the welder. I wind the cables, etc. around it only when I want to transport the welder to another site. It has never slipped. The only scratches to the paint have come from trying to pry it off of the side of the welder.

My wife's cousin (by marriage) gave me the Craftsman angle grinder that I turned into a cut-off saw. Some months after I made the cut-off saw he was at our house and I showed it to him. He asked about the magnet. I put one of the mounting bolts on the magnet, but very carefully and slowly so he had no idea the magnet was very strong. Then I asked him to pull the bolt off of the magnet. He was very surprised at its strength.

Thanks for looking.

mr.incredible (author)2012-09-10

I use HDD magnets for all kinds of stuff...

There is another super small neo magnet in the parking mech on the back of the swing arm. I sometimes remove the magnet from the metal base. I soak the magnets with the holder (usually high nickel stainless) in acetone. They will separate easier from the holder/base without damaging the chrome coating.

There are some really useful neo mags in an old CD or DVD drive too. Specifically a washer shaped magnet in the spindle of the cd holder. There are usually a matched pair of rectangle magnets in the focus mech too.

Inner tube glued to the magnet with contact cement makes for a great non-slip/non-scratch surface.

A word of caution, neo magnets do not like heat of any type. Heat above about 140deg F will kill the magnetic properties.

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