I had some old hard drive magnets, and some extra magnets I bought at Harbor Freight for some soft jaws on a vise. I decided to use the Harbor Freight ceramic magnets for a magnetic grabber with a handle about four feet long. This will be handy for picking up small parts that fall onto the garage floor. The working end of it is shown in the photo. It is strong enough to pick up the locking pliers shown. Details on making it will be shown first.
Then I will show how I made a grabber with a split hard drive magnet. I had been thinking about making this before I got an idea for remagnetizing a grabber that lost most of its magnetism when I removed some nails from a barbecue fire. (I was annealing these particular square cut concrete nails so I could straighten them.)
- Table saw
- Wire feed welder
- Wire cutter
- Wood trim
- 1/8 inch steel
- 1/4 inch machine screw
- 1/4 inch wingnut
- 1/8 inch rod
- #8 wood screw
- 13 gauge steel wire
- Plastic electrical tape
Step 1: Prepare Wood Handle
We added a new screen door to our house. Hanging it required removing some existing wood trim. I used some of the trim to make a handle for my floor length grabber.
Use a table saw to remove the molded portion as shown by the green crosshatching. Then rip to make a square piece (brown line). The piece and portion linked by the blue arrow is an extra piece for a future project to be determined later.
Step 2: Round the Edges
Make the edges round and smooth for easy use with bare hands.
Step 3: Rip a Slot
I want to tilt the steel head with the magnets for ease of use. I ripped a slot 1/8 inch wide and about four inches long.
Step 4: The Head
The head is 1/8 inch steel pieces welded to make a "T". Drill a hole in the head and in the slotted portion of the handle.
Step 5: Assemble the Head
Insert the 1/4 inch screw through the handle and the hole in the head. Add washers and a wingnut.
Step 6: Keep the Magnets From Moving
I quickly discovered the two magnets (second photo) can slide off of the head very easily. So, I added to side guards. The ends of the magnets will be placed against the side guards.
Step 7: Tie the Magnets in Place With Wire
I used a short piece of 13 gauge (or thereabout) wire looped around the stem of the "T" defined by the head to keep the magnets from sliding off or pulling on on a heavier object.
This grabber is very handy for picking up scraps and small parts from the garage floor.
The next step begin instructions for a smaller grabber about 18 inches long.
Step 8: Magnets and Steel
A friend gave me an old hard drive magnet split in two pieces. These were not fastened on their mount and were easy to remove. I want a magnetic grabber with more strength than one magnet provides. Also shown is a piece of steel about 3/32 inch thick and 1/2 inch wide.
Step 9: Bend the Steel
With a vise and a hammer I bent the steel into the pattern you see. See the text box for where the magnets will be placed.
Step 10: Prepare to Wind the Wire Handle
I chose to wind three strands of wire together to make the handle. Three twisted strands of #13 steel wire will provide enough strength for what is necessary, but can be bent whenever the head of the grabber needs to reach around a corner. Later it can be straightened again. This will be a simple plan for construction of the handle, but the handle will provide plenty of versatility. See the text boxes for information about the hole and the "V" notch I made in the piece of steel for the head.
Cut one piece of wire 36 inches long and bend it over at 18 inches. Stick one end into the drilled hole. Cut another piece about 22 inches long. Bend it over at about 18 inches. Stick it into the drilled hole.
Step 11: Twist the Wires
With the steel head in a vise as in the previous step, insert the ends of wires into a drill chuck. Use the drill to twist the wires. Do not twist too tightly.
Step 12: Finish Off the Twisting and Add the Magnets
I had to use a pair of pliers by hand to get the twist tight enough near the "V" cut so the twist went into the "V" and made the head solid on the wire handle. You can see the magnets in place in the upper right portion of the photo.
I used a grinder to smooth sharp corners, and I covered the magnets and the ends of the wires with some electrical tape for a tool that looks more finished and has fewer rough edges.
Step 13: Check It
I wanted to see if this grabber could lift a needle nose pliers and it does, although a little precariously. It will be just fine for fishing a screw out of a hole. The end of the head is a bit blunt. I could have left the steel for the head straight so it would fit into a much narrower hole.