Three Handy Workbench Tools From HDD Magnets





Introduction: Three Handy Workbench Tools From HDD Magnets

The first time I took apart a hard drive I was amazed by the super strong magnets inside. They were mounted on steel plates with holes already drilled in them, just waiting to be re-purposed. Here's a few ways I've used these magnets on my workbench.

Step 1: A Simple Light Duty Magnetic Clamp

All hard drives have two strong magnets with a pivoting coil sandwiched between them. These magnets come in various styles. For a bench clamp, I selected a set of magnets that pivoted on a slot and groove. This allows the magnet to accept a wider variety of material sizes without slipping. I mounted one magnet to the edge of the workbench with screws. The other magnet could then be slotted over it and used to clamp items firmly. It can hold circuit boards, larger spring clamps, measuring devices and other small items.

Step 2: A DIY Helping Hand

The magnetic clamp is really handy as a helping hand. I attached an alligator clip to either end of a twelve inch piece of heavy copper wire. When the wire is folded in half and clamped in the magnets it can be used to hold a circuit board, pair of wires or other items while their being soldered. For heavier work I use two alligator clips mounted on lengths of bamboo skewer as it is stiff and can be easily cut to any length needed.

Step 3: A Magnetic Tool Holder

I selected another set of magnets for the other side of the bench. This set didn't slot together, but one side had 'ears' that stuck out the side. I mounted this one to the front corner edge of my bench. It's very handy for holding tools, keeping wires out of the way or hanging my drill motor.

Step 4: A Screw and Hardware Holder

I mounted the flat magnet to the top of my workbench in the corner near the tool holder. This is handy as a bench dog and it's also a handy way to keep screws in one place when I'm taking something apart.

There are many more uses for dead hard drives and their magnets and I'll be covering a few more over the next few days. Go grab a dead computer and have some fun!



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    Use number 4: Put it inside a paper bag/envelope,and use it to sweep for lost screws/bolts, or to pick up ferrous dust (e.g. castoff from using steel wire wool).

    Bonus points for getting the magnet OUT of the bag without all the trash ending up stuck to the magnet.

    Don't use a bag, they tear. Try a disposable plastic cup or similar.


    Never had one tear, I suppose it depends what size of metal junk you're picking up!

    btw3: I have an oven for setting Araldite. Magnets are great to hold bits in place, but I heard the rare earth magnets lose it above 80 deg C.

    I use my HDD magnets at work all the time. I often need to take the backs off large screen LCD TVs by removing a zillion screws then when it's time to close up the TV, to put all those screws back. No room for error like dropping one or two screws on the floor and losing them forever. (I think little invisible creatures scurry and steal the screws and other tiny hardware that fall on the floor to add them to the space ship they're building to escape the planet before Earth is destroyed by Apophis) <gasp>...ehem...Enters the HDD magnet! All I got to do is drop the screw in the general vicinity of the magnet and the screw gets magically pulled in mid flight right towards the magnet's powerful magnetic field, like space debris being pulled into the gravity well of a black hole, minus the spaghettification of course <cough> never to lose the screws again. [I gotta stop watching syfy so much.]

    It could be cats taking those screws. Some cats are actually aliens here to study us..... =) JK, Of course. But, think about it..... we have one now and had one in the past. They are not always very cat like.. Our current one came to us as a tiny kitten and never has quite known how to be a cat. This is my and my daughter's explanation. When she disappears for a week or so, she has gone back for a tune up. But the joke is on her alien cohorts....we are far from an average American family. ... LOL.. JK JK JK, really. Thanks for your above reply. Love me some instructables!! Getting husband to raid old hard drives as we type.

    "Silly", I thought. But who am I to judge.

    I use lots of strong magnets like these. I have a nail near the shadowboard to hang spare magnets on. And a magnet on my drill press to hold the chuck and a few drills I use often. So versatile, but magnetic tools can be a pain.

    btw: now I need a demagnetiser (or for those in the USA, a demagnetizer). I made one decades ago from a big transformer primary winding (no E's or I's), with an electric heater element load to limit the current to 5Amps or so.

    Put the tool in the middle, hold tight, turn on the juice, pull the tool out, turn off power immediately to avoid cooking the coil....

    btw2: to separate the magnet from the backing steel, soak it in acetone for a week then wedge a razor blade in to lift the magnet. Put the whole thing (with razor) back in the acetone and repeat a few days later.

    Taped one to the end of a long paint stick to retrieve socket I dropped down into my engine compartment

    If anyone is wondering, these magnets are more than strong enough to hang a hammer.