Introduction: Unusual Uses for Magnets

Picture of Unusual Uses for Magnets

I love magnets!

There are many practical uses for magnets that we see everyday, but there are so many more ways to use magnets that the maker nerd in all of us will appreciate. Though there are a few types of magnets on the market, for almost every application I prefer neodymium magnets (also known as rare-earth magnets) as they are the best choice - They are small, very powerful, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

From the workshop to the kitchen, there's plenty of unusual uses for magnets. Let's explore!

Step 1: Hammer Helper

Picture of Hammer Helper

If you've ever used a hammer you've probably kept a few nails in your mouth to keep yourself productive. While this is an effective method, it can be cumbersome if you've got a few types of nails in use. Modify your hammer to do double duty and carry some nails with a small magnet!

Wood handled hammers are perfect for including a small magnet in the flat bottom. I found a drill pit with a matching diameter to the magnet I wanted to use.

Secure the hammer so the location for the magnet is facing upwards, then drill into the bottom of the handle as deep as required to contain your magnet.

Add a small dab of epoxy into the cavity and then insert the magnet until fully seated. Allow the epoxy to cure and you're good to go!

Step 2: Magnetize Screwdrivers

Picture of Magnetize Screwdrivers

Staying in the workshop: magnets also work great to polarize your screwdrivers, allowing you to pick up a screw with the tip of the screwdriver. This is especially helpful to keep a screw seated on the end of the driver as you start screwing it into the opening - the time when most screws can fall off the end of the driver.

To magnetize screwdrivers stroke the magnet along the shaft of the screwdriver from handle to tip a few times. That's all that's needed to polarize the screwdriver and allow it to be magnetized.

To remove the magnetic properties just stroke the magnet in the reverse direction and the screwdriver will be demagnetized.

Step 3: Nail + Screw Finder

Picture of Nail + Screw Finder

Maybe you're working outside and drop a nail or screw, finding it in the dirt or grass can be a laborious task. Whether finding fasteners, earrings, or cleaning up steel shavings, a small magnet on a stick will make your life a lot easier.

I made this handy pick-up tool by just gluing a strong magnet on the end of a dowel. There's plenty of ways to make this a more robust tool for you needs, like adding wheels to the dowel which would allow you to roll it around on the ground at a consistent height. What other ways can you think to make this tool better?

Step 4: Stud Finder

Picture of Stud Finder

Though residential homes have wood studs, a magnet can help you find the stud locations by being attracted to the the drywall screws. In older homes where there's lath and plaster, a magnet can help you locate the nails where the lath is attached to the studs.

By lightly tapping on a wall you can roughly locate where the studs aren't by listening for a hollow sound. Continue tapping until you locate a dense thud sound, there should be a stud in this general location. Use your magnet to hone in on the exact stud location by moving the magnet around the wall until it becomes attracted to the drywall screw or lath nail.

Conventional construction has studs located 16" apart, so once you find one stud you can measure out 16" and use your magnet to locate more studs.

Step 5: Keep Supplies Close By

Picture of Keep Supplies Close By

Crafty makers void warranties and fix all their own stuff. Keep your screws and other bits organized when you're doing your next disassembly with a magnetized dish.

Almost any dish can work for this, but I used a stainless steel container. Since some types of stainless steel aren't magnetic magnetic, I used a strong adhesive (E6000) to bond my large diameter flat magnet to the underside of the dish.

Allow the adhesive plenty of time to cure (I left mine overnight), then your dish is ready to be used.

Whether holding sewing needles for your textiles, or screws for your repair job, a magnetic dish will make your live easier and more organized!

Step 6: Visual Shopping List

Picture of Visual Shopping List

I'm a visual person, I'm also a creature of habit and usually get the same staples at the grocery store. Combining these two traits lead me to making a visual grocery list, a quick way to remind myself what I need at the store at a glance, and without opening up the fridge.

When I'm in the fridge and use the last of the milk, I just slide the milk magnet over to the grocery list. Now I know that I'm out of milk and need to grab some next time I'm out.

This easy visual style can be used for all kinds of applications outside of the kitchen. All you need is a sheet magnet and a printer to make your own.

Step 7: Magnetic Silly Putty

Picture of Magnetic Silly Putty

Magnetic Silly Putty is super easy to make, and displays some curious properties when a strong magnet is placed nearby. Making your own is easy, you just need some silly putty, a little black iron oxide powder, and a powerful rare earth magnet.

Magnetic silly putty is a great teaching tool, as well as a fun science toy for kids of all ages.

Step 8: Ferromagnetic Fluid

Picture of Ferromagnetic Fluid

Magnetic putty isn't the only science toy to make with magnets, there's also ferromagnetic fluid! This simple project uses the same black iron oxide powder suspended in a water solution and all contained in a small jar. The jar is then sealed up to keep the contents from spilling out.

When a magnet is introduced to the side of the jar you will be able to see the magnetic fields action on the iron oxide powder inside the jar. Remove the magnet and watch the powder drop to the bottom of the jar.

This simple project is fun to play with and visually demonstrates how a magnetic works.

Step 9: Emergency Keys

Picture of Emergency Keys

Hide your keys somewhere safe in case you get locked out.

Some keys are brass, and not magnetic. An easy way to use this trick with brass keys is to use key rings, which are steel. Place a key ring onto your key, then use a small neodymium magnet to hide the key somewhere inconspicuous, like under a table or inside a drawer.

Step 10: Magnetic Fidget Spinner

Picture of Magnetic Fidget Spinner

The fidget spinner fad is still in full effect, with all kinds of new ways to modify and customize your favorite toy. There's an unwritten competition among spinner to see who's can go the fastest. While air compressors seem like the easiest way to achieve maximum RPM, brainy Instructables member tanner_tech shows us a new spin on accelerating with his Electromagnetic Fidget Spinner Accelerator.

From the Instructable:

The magnets on the fidget spinner are mounted so that all the magnets have their north pole facing outwards. The electromagnet is wired so that the side that is closest to the spinner will have a north polarity when it is powered. As the magnet on one side of the spinner passes the electromagnet it will trigger the reed switch, activating the electromagnet [and] that arm of the spinner will be pushed away from the electromagnet.

Step 11: Craving More?

Picture of Craving More?

Can't get enough magnets? Me neither! That's why I made a collection of magnetic projects I've made over the years. They are sure to get your creative juices flowing, and I hope you find them attractive :)

Do you have your own unusual use for a magnet? I want to see it!

Share a picture of your usual use for magnets in the comments below and get a freePro Membership to Instructables!


nialldevlin (author)2018-01-16

I use magnets as a tie clip. It works great, and if you do it right, then your tie just clings to your chest, and no one knows why.

BigAndRed (author)nialldevlin2018-01-16

do you have a steel chest?

BigAndRed made it! (author)2017-08-30

I have magnets from microwave ovens attached to my lathe to hold chuck keys, knock out bar, rulers and a LED light. the light is stuck on to the tail stock so is always aimed at the job, its a bedside light with a microwave magnet glued into the base. This keeps all the small tools I need close at hand.

I also have a small magnet on a stick to pick up tools if i drop them on the other side of the lathe in the pile of sawdust.

Never use magnets or magnetised screwdrivers on your computer, very good way to upset them.

mikeasaurus (author)BigAndRed2017-08-31

Smart uses. I do something similar with my drill press at home, keeping the chuck key nice and close.

Thanks for sharing pictures of your uses, enjoy the Pro Membership!

BigAndRed made it! (author)mikeasaurus2017-09-03

thanks for the pro Mike.

I do the same with the drill press for keeping chuck key and center punch on top.

Oloneear (author)BigAndRed2018-01-16

I have lost a few keys over time till I decided to do this, never lost another, just reach up pluck it off and after I'm done right back it goes. Slick as can be.

Jane Ward (author)2018-01-04

I have just found the elusive wall studs - thank you. Our house is owner built, so there is no regular gap. Towel rails going up.

iceng made it! (author)2017-12-28

Hanging palaeontological sand stone art on a wall is unlike a picture frame wire method.. Simply epoxy a strong round magnet to the stone centroid the rock back and grind away clearance for the hooked metal plate second picture to support the weight of rock while the NIB magnet is tight pressed against mounting plate..

You may want to click on the pics to view the whole image..

iceng (author)2017-12-28

Japan's steel industry made SUBSTANDARD Steel for the US..

The end result when the kitchen stove needed a new close spring set the Substandard Steel lost its spring in less then a year as did the next set..

The original set lasted seven years..

I tried to rewire the High Temperature Lock servo.. But it was too slow !

The simple magnetic fix for Substandard Spring Steel was two transverse magnetized bar magnets that keeps the oven door closed, click and see the 3d pic to see the whole image..

Yes it has a small gap, however the thermal seal holds the cooking fumes in the oven and to Hades with Japanese Substandard Spring Steel...

iceng (author)2017-12-28

You can pull iron from gold beach

Just wave this tool over the sand and squeeze the handle to drop the assorted captured metal filings...

You may want to click the pics to see the whole image..

iceng (author)2017-12-28

Well here is a very attractive magnetic ible


There have to be older individuals who have glasses that can hang on your shirt...

Simply slide a transverse flat bar magnet and heatshrink into place making sure the both sides of the glasses have the same magnet polarity outside...

Which makes it easy to hang on both sides..

Now Never again have your eye wear fall in the bowl when you reach to flush !

iceng (author)iceng2017-12-28

It cannot hurt to click on each pic to view the whole image...

iceng (author)2017-12-28

A strong magnetic ible about how to use a couple of NIB magnets..

GypsyC1 (author)2017-09-06

I always lose my carving knife so I made a magic knife holder, because I think it looks so smart, I seem to always automatically place my knife on it and I always know where my knife is now

mikeasaurus (author)GypsyC12017-09-07

This is very smart. I should do this with everything I seem to misplace :)

Thanks for sharing a picture of your use. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

GypsyC1 (author)mikeasaurus2017-10-04

Thanks for the pro Mike. Always a joy to read your i'bles, keep up the good work, living is learning.

charlessenf-gm (author)2017-10-03

If you stick one of those super strong magnets on the end of a tape measure and extend the tape a foot or som it acts like a divining rod as it passes over the nails/screws in the drywall. Another approach - glue a smaller magnet to a string - same thing, just a swinging approach.

ShawnJ29 (author)2017-09-23

I love your IDEAS and i use several of the magnet ideas myself. The one with the remote i use velcro cause no metal furniture in livingroom or bedrom. But I have a magnet story from about 15 years ago when my son was 8 years old and the whole family went to our local Christmas tree lighting. They had local vendors selling everything from food, crafts to jewelry. WELL my son and his friend bought 2 flashing led magnetic body jewelry pieces. While in the boys bathroom my son tried to attach one flashing magnetic body jewelry piece on EACH NOSTRIL! The two inside magnets got turned around and stuck together.... Far up into his septum! Well he failed to tell us the whole truth.....we thought he just sucked in ONE while he was putting ONE of the jewelry pieces on his nose. We rush home try pulling out the STRONGEST magnets we had to get this magnet outta this kids nose. OMG LOL. My husband took speakers apart......other magnetic tools from the garage the telescoping magnet. WE TRIED EVERYTHING & nothing would work & my son is crying & yelI out in pain. We end up at the ER and the truth came out after the doctors xray shows 2 magnets. Outpatient surgery the next day removal of a foreign object! It was a fiasco. Can laugh about it now but it was SCARY!! =)

Questor (author)2017-09-07

I have two, 2 1/2"x 1/2" cylindrical magnets on the bottom cross member of my
motorcycle frame (perpendicular to line of travel) to help trip Traffic

JohnD316 (author)2017-08-30

I find rocks with iron in them in remote areas and in some creekbeds in the far north of Ontario simply using strong rare earth magnets on the end of a fibreglass walking stick or skipole. Many of these rocks are actually meteorites and have sold them to collectors. Sometimes when cleaning out eaves-troughs I often run rare earth magnets through the debris to find what I call stardust. Metal dust floating into our atmosphere and ending up in our eaves-troughs. Fun to think about. Where else could it come from?

wwench (author)JohnD3162017-09-05

Could be micrometeorites in the eaves....check out Project Stardust on FB:

robertsrock (author)2017-09-04

I like the hammer idea it will be so useful.

Thank you mikeasaurus

synapslap (author)2017-09-01

Radio wave radio waves--- Will this do anything to attract them or receive them

marcudanf (author)synapslap2017-09-02


synapslap (author)synapslap2017-09-01

I guess there's only one way to find out time to burn. Back to back LPGA's birthday northern and southern pole magnet in between the two why would this not work

Robert Stone (author)2017-08-29

I put them on my oil filter

synapslap (author)Robert Stone2017-09-01

Awesome my idea man analyze engine wear- and 100% prevent motor catastrophe

synapslap (author)synapslap2017-09-01


estxgran2 (author)Robert Stone2017-08-29

why? What does that accomplish?

Omegaman3 (author)Robert Stone2017-08-29

That does work, but don't waste you time using them on the bottom end of the filter, they need to be on the side. There is a great guide on how to choose effective magnets for this purpose on eBay at

German_MX (author)Robert Stone2017-08-29

That's a terrific idea.

callhow (author)2017-08-31

I "do use magnets" to pick-up fishing hooks vs getting stabbed by the hook or barbs. I get my magnets from old hard drives (very strong AND pinch hard!)

callhow (author)2017-08-31

I have heard (and saw a demonstration 1x), that a person wearing glasses "needed some place to put his glasses - when wearing a shirt/sweater with no pockets" - I believe he had a paper clip taped inside his sweater and a magnet glued to his glasses! Stuck his glasses right to the chest of his sweater! smart!

kaz33 (author)2017-08-31

Hi, and thank you for taking the time to make this instruct-able, and sharing your tricks with us! SHARING IS CARING

- And great idea to offer membership as motivation to get the rest of us to cough up our ideas!

Magnets are such a great thing. Lets go crazy and use them everywhere.

I love to hear what uses people have come up with, for the use of magnets.

Here's my little contribution. I have super-glued a neodymium magnet that I have recovered from a 2.5" HDD, to the backside of my remote, so now i can hang it on metal surfaces - no more digging for the remote between those couch pillows.

Try it out - you will love it!

mikeasaurus (author)kaz332017-08-31

My couch has eaten my remote plenty of times, this is a good solution to that problem! What surface do you stick your remote to that's within easy reach of the couch?

Thanks for sharing a picture of your clever use, enjoy the Pro Membership!

trgz (author)2017-08-31

I use those Neodymium magnets from old hard drives to hold thicker things on my fridge - they're also useful for holding decorations to the steel edging under the surface of the corners of plasterboard walls

Tip - if you're putting your shopping list on your fridge (I like your idea BTW, I write mine on a whiteboard on my fridge) then when its ready just photograph it and take your phone to the supermarket?

scoop1236 (author)2017-08-29

I have 2 large plastic covered magnets in my washer stuck to the sides. I don't need any detergent anymore. The magnets do the same thing the detergent does.....changes the water molecules . My clothes come out clean and no detergent smell.

mikes4222 (author)scoop12362017-08-31

Thanks for that info, scoop. I use speaker magnets on all my water lines, and my house is cleaner as a result. I also covered smaller ones with pure silicone and dropped them in each toilet tank, and the scale deposits just melted away. I put one under a (metal) evaporative cooler, and the calcium deposits just fell off after softening up. I made one after studying a commercial model in the 80's, and have been telling folks about them since. I live in Tucson, Arizona, and our water is extremely hard, and the magnets help a lot. Thanks again, and don't let the naysayers get to you. We as a people have forgotten a lot, and we don't even know what we don't know.

scoop1236 (author)mikes42222017-08-31

Thanks for your kind words.

skylane (author)scoop12362017-08-29

No detergent smell when you use no detergent. OK.. that makes sense.

Water molecules are water molecules. Magnets don't change that what so ever.

Just like those magnets con artists sell to put on a fuel line to improve your gas mileage. That doesn't do anything either.

scoop1236 (author)skylane2017-08-30

Well all I know is what I have read and my experience with them. I have been using them for several years and my clothes are clean. The very first load I did I noticed how soft my clothes felt and how clean. And no smell from detergent. Detergent leaves a residue on your clothes obviously because after that first load I could really see the difference.

EwaldG (author)scoop12362017-08-30

If you're already doing that, why not stick a couple on your cold water line. That will remove any minerals from your water and keep your clothes even softer.

I know it works 'cause I read it somewhere. I think it was from a company selling a magnetic device for water lines. Must be good.

mikes4222 (author)EwaldG2017-08-31

It does work to condition or soften the water, I saw it myself. Decades ago, a man came to our door selling magnetic water softeners at about $150.00 apiece, and my mom was interested in wasting money, so after studying his magnet, I sprung into action and made one on the spot out of spare parts. I took an old 4" speaker magnet and put it in a PVC end cap with some sand inside to seat the magnet so that it was just level with the top, wrapped some friction tape around the magnet and stuck it in the cap, with the coil side facing out, and covered it with some melted wax to waterproof it. I then took a large hose clamp and drilled two self-tapping metal screws into the clamp, and then into the back of the cap, so it could be connected to the incoming water supply line outside. I then presented my copy to the salesman, who was flustered as all heck. Mom did buy one of his devices, to compare it against what I made, and they performed alike. I put mine on the incoming water line to the house, and waited a few weeks for the results. The hard water stains in the sinks and shower started to decrease, and eventually stopped forming.

At a place I was renting, there was a side-draft evap cooler with hard white calcium scale clogging the vents, and it wouldn't come off easily. I put a large speaker magnet under the bottom, near the pump, and waited. One day a few weeks later, I looked at the cooler and notice that the calcium deposits had fallen off the pad vanes and formed neat little piles on the ground under it.

I put one on my family's pool filter on the water line returning to the pool, and noticed a gradual improvement in the water. The black and yellow algae that had plagued the pool for years was gone for good.

I put one on the cold water line to the water heater, covered two magnets with silicone and dropped them into the toilet tanks, put one on each shower line that comes out of the wall, and the stall stays relatively clean with almost no effort on my part. A repairman had commented on how clean the inside of our dishwasher was, as he replaced a worn part. I made some for friends, and they gave me reports of things like their clothes washers unclogging to their stainless steel sinks being spot free, so YES, they DO work.

wyldecent (author)scoop12362017-08-29

This is intriquing. Does this work for pet bedding odors? Front load or top top load? Or would it make a difference? I'd worry about it effecting the electronics of my new HD washer.

scoop1236 (author)wyldecent2017-08-30

It works on either kind of washer. It doesn't hurt your electronics. I have them in my top loader in California and my front loader in Ohio and they were both new machines. As far as pet bedding, and I have 12 cats, in a situation like that i use some detergent along with the magnets. Magnets don't mean you NEVER need to add ANYTHING. They don't remove stains so must treat the stain. I am very satisfied with them. Some say myth but seems to work for me.

skylane (author)wyldecent2017-08-29

Interesting... kind of. But the magnets do nothing for washing of oders.

synapslap (author)skylane2017-08-29

correct sir

JustinM97 (author)scoop12362017-08-29

Hate to break it to you scoop1236 but... that's a myth and a huge scam. It does nothing. Specifically the so called magic magnetic "changing the water molecules" effects claimed are entirely bogus. The do not do the same thing detergent does. Any effect you imagine it is having is simply that, your imagination, or, it comes from the extra turbulence induced and added agitation that those extra bumps of the magnets on the side cause.

scoop1236 (author)JustinM972017-08-30

Whatever, I like them and so do my friends.

Yonatan24 (author)JustinM972017-08-29

Never hear of that myth, buy WHY would that even be real?


About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
More by mikeasaurus:Router Planer10 MORE Woodworking Tricks the Pros UseSliced Wood Coasters
Add instructable to: