Magnetic Axe Prank





Introduction: Magnetic Axe Prank

About: 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!

Leaving your car parked on the street is an exercise in civic trust (or Civic trust, ha!). After you've locked up your ride and head off to work, you assume that your vehicle will be there when you get back and in the exact same condition it was when you left it. Out of sight out of mind, right? I mean...nobody would actually take an axe and slam it through the hood of a car, would they?

Well, April Fool's is a bad time to assume anything. And, seeing as some people are protective over their cars more than most other things makes it a perfect target to prank. By modifying an axe and using powerful magnets you can create a simple but effective prop that looks like someone has sunk an axe into your friends' car. The perfect revenge-prank!

This prank does not damage your victim's ride and will alarm the prankee and passer-by's alike. 
Enough talk, let's prank!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

  • horizontal bandsaw*
  • sanding wheel*
  • scissors
  • chop saw
  • adjustable clamps
  • large axe
  • neodymium magnets
  • scrap neoprene
  • scrap 2x4" wood
I used the horizontal bandsaw and grinding wheel at TechShop SF.

Step 2: Cut Axe Blade

To cut the axe blade I used the horizontal bandsaw, this tool is a good choice for cutting as it goes slow and the axe can be clamped in place. It's important that the cutting process is slow as the axe is made from tool steel, a very hard metal. Scrap 2x4" lumber was used to hold the axe in place while cutting.

I started by chopping some scrap 2x4" lumber with a 30° angle. This lumber will act as a brace while the axe is clamped in the horizontal bandsaw as the axe is of an irregular shape and did not fit into the bandsaw clamp at the angle I wanted to cut. 

Using an indelible marker I marked where I wanted my cut to be. Then, using the scrap wood I clamped the axe into the horizontal bandsaw and began cutting.

When using the horizontal bandsaw to cut tool steel it is important that the saw be set on the slowest setting with a very slow drop. Tool steel is very hard and it will take some time for the saw to make its way through the axe. For my project the saw took about 30 minutes to cut through the axe blade. Always err on the side of caution and go slow, ensuring plenty of lubricant for the saw blade while cutting. Read more about horizontal bandsaw use here.

Step 3: Grind Flat

The horizontal bandsaw cuts fairly straight, but can cut at an odd angle if your metal moves during the cut. I sanded my cut flat with a circular sander.

I had originally thought to inset each magnet into the face of the axe head, but found that arranging the axe under the drill press was awkward and caused the drill to deflect. As such, insetting the magnets was abandoned. 

Step 4: Neoprene Protection

To protect the car form scratches (either from the metal axe or the magnets) I used a small swatch of neoprene, cut to the exact size of the axe face. Any padded fabric will do, but make sure it's thin enough to allow the magnets to get a firm grip on whatever you are sticking your prank axe to.

My neoprene was 3mm.

Step 5: Find Your Target and Hide!

All that's left is to place your neodynium magnets on the axe face and you're ready to prank!

Using the neoprene cushion place the axe on your victim's car hood, roof, trunk or door. Then, sit back and watch as your friend (and onlookers) gawk at what looks like the worst case of revenge!
After your prank has been executed you can all have a good laugh when you remove the axe and show your friend there is no damage done!

Have fun!



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    69 Discussions

    I don't have an axe lying around... :)
    Any way I could do this with a kitchen knife?

    Is there a step where you remove all your fingerprints?

    What if someone else comes along and adds to your mayhem with the obverse side of the axe? On another vehicle?

    Is there a step where you remove all your fingerprints?

    What if someone else comes along and adds to your mayhem with the obverse side of the axe? On another vehicle?

    If you remove the handle, then heat the axe till it's red hot, it will destroy the temper, making it much easier to drill the holes and to grind the face of the axe. Put it into a fire or use a torch, but it must cool slowly to release the temper. Cooling it quickly with water or oil will just make it harder.

    I don't see the step where you attached the magnets, or inset them or whatever. How did you attach them?

    6 replies

    In Step 3 I discussed that I couldn't get the axe head under the drill press securely and the bit just deflected off the face, so I didn't embed them.

    In Step 5 it reads "All that's left is to place your neodynium magnets on the axe face and you're ready to prank!". So, the magnets were just placed on the axe face.

    I would like to redo this prank one day with the magnets inset into the face, but need a much larger drill press and a very dense (and probably expensive) drill bit in order to get through the tool steel axe.

    Might be a good excuse to play with this:

    EDM is considerably more expensive, and depending on your electrode wire, it could take even longer. On the plus side you could set it and forget it. You basically have to have a shop set up for it already.

    You might consider fixing the magnets to the axe head then using Bondo or a similar material to build up around them giving the illusion of the axe head. Paint to match and it would be unnoticeable without close inspection. A lot easier than drilling into hard steel.

    Use grinding bits in a rotary tool to hog out for the magnets, instead of trying to drill?

    Although I can understand those who are unwilling to sacrifice a perfectly good axe, I have to hand it to you - this is a winner of a prank!

    But on the subject of the magnets, I have to "axe" you :-) why not just magnetize the axe head instead of using separate magnets? It seems to me that it would be cheaper and less complex.

    If you take the cut axe and fasten your magnets to it and use Bondo or similar material to build up around the magnets and matching the shape of the axe head to hide the magnets. Then a little paint and you wouldn't notice anything without close inspection.

    1 reply

    Looks great and the expression of your "victim" is classic. One thing by way of caution: Be careful your "victim" doesn't use the spike end on you! LOL.

    I'm going to do this to one of the teachers cars at school

    Brilliant! I wonder if there would be a way to make the hood look broken without damaging the car.

    you should do this on someone's computer
    or a recommendation to everyone make a fake spill prank and put it on a laptop

    You should modify it in some way so you could stick it on your head or in the middle of your back. Then walk around with it on and pretend like nothing's wrong. A hatchet would prob be better though since it's lighter.

    Awesome trick!

    I wonder if you could anneal the axe head to reduce the hardness. I'm not sure the annealing temperature for steel but it's in the 600C-800C range I think.

    Since you aren't using it to cut you wouldn't need to re-temper it.