Introduction: Magnetically Latching Multi-tool Holster
I always have a multi-tool on my belt at work. Problem is, after a year or so the Velcro closing tab loses its "stickiness". My solution is to use the powerful magnets from an old hard drive to replace the Velcro on the flap. With the flap closed the magnet sticks securely through the holster to the metal multi-tool within.
Your old non-sticky multi-tool pouch
A dead or obsolete hard drive
Small piece (less than 3" square) of tough fabric like denim, canvas, or heavy cotton
Appropriate Phillips or Torx drivers for opening hard drive
Vice grips, pliers, and/or bench vice
Sewing machine or hand sewing equipment
Safety: Mind the scissors and needles, don't poke a screwdriver through your hand, careful using the razor knife. The magnets retrieved from hard drives can be very powerful. They can snap your fingers, destroy CRT monitors, erase precious data on your hard drives, memory cards, and credit cards. If you don't have the right tools or skill set to attempt this project, please don't.
Step 1: Hard Drive Opening
Here we dissect a hard drive to remove its powerful rare earth magnets. This is an old 1 Gb hard drive donated by my buddy in the IT department at work. I trip over old hard drives at work, you may need to be more creative. Try your IT department at work, go to the repair center at you local computer retailer, dumpster dive, just try and get one for FREE. No reason to spend even $5 on a hard drive your just going to destroy.
Step 2: Locate Cover Screws
Poke around with your razor knife or screwdriver and peel back the stickers covering the lid screws. They may all be covered, like this drive, or only one or two may be hidden. They may be Phillips or Torx screws. Loosen and unscrew them all.
Here are a few other hard drive related Instructables you may find helpful
Step 3: Pry Off Cover
The nice thing about a dead hard drive is that you don't need any finesse because it's never going back together. Jam your flathead screwdriver in any convenient opening and firmly peel back the cover. This is the step when you find that last hidden screw under a sticker labeled "warranty void if seal is broken." Heck, if you pry hard enough you might not even need to take out the last screw or two.
Step 4: Retrieve Magnets
Your drive should look similar to this, the magnets surround the base of the arm that reaches across the drive platters. Remove the magnet securing screw(s), then use your flathead screwdriver to overcome the magnetic force holding them together and pull out the upper and lower magnet plates. Again, no points for finesse, if that little arm is getting in the way, get a bigger screwdriver and snap it to bits.
You may have gotten unlucky and opened a drive (usually only a very old drive would have this) that uses a stepper motor, it will have no magnets and instead use a little spur gear to move the arm. Throw away and return to step 1.
Step 5: Remove Magnets From Backing Plates
The goal in this step is to bend the backing plate the magnets are glued to. Whether you use two vice grips as pictured, one end in a vice and one plier, or a channel lock and vice grip, is up to you and your tool chest.
Do NOT heat the magnet to loosen the glue, as heating magnets to the temp required to loosen glue causes them to lose there magnetism. Do NOT try and chisel them off, the magnets are brittle and will crumble to bits (sticky bits, all over your screwdriver).
The only other method that worked for me was to pinch the base horizontally in a vice with the magnet face up. Using a large pair of channel locks layed flat to grip the outside edges of the magnet I rotated in a circular motion.
If you have well glued thin magnets, they may break, if the pieces are big enough the project may still work. If not, go find a different brand junk drive and start over.
Step 6: Prepare Your Old Tool Holster
Cut off the old no-good Velcro on both the flap and pouch part.
Step 7: Cut Magnet Cover Fabric
Cut a piece of fabric that matches the contour of the flap, and allows enough length in all directions to surround your magnet(s). I used some cotton duck scrap because of availability, I would imagine denim would work well too. Anything thin and tough. Thin fabric allows the magnet to get close and exert as much force as possible on the tool, and tough so the magnet won't tear through as you open the flap.
Step 8: Partially Sew on Magnet Cover Cloth
Because the magnet we are using is very strong, we need to complete as much sewing as possible without it present. It will just stick to your needles, grab your scissors, and stick to your sewing machine. I sewed everything but the bottom opening. Tight stitches that over run the edges with backstitching. Sewing is my weak point, so I do multiple passes to strengthen the seams.
Step 9: Insert Magnet(s) and Sew Close
Try out your magnet on the multi-tool with your partially sewn patch. Different hard drives have different strength magnets, the first pouch I built just needed one, this one I stuck both magnets together. Your magnets, your holster, your preference.
Once you slide in the magnets sew the lower part closed. If I was at all patient this may have worked better hand sewing. But, I used the machine, it jammed once, so I won't be getting any technique awards. I found setting the needle position dial off-center allowed me to keep the presser foot away from the magnet. Remember to gently pull the whole holster as you stitch to overcome the magnet sticking to the needle plate. I am using a "jeans needle," seems to hold up on thicker fabrics like this.
I have taught myself to sew by doing things like this, so if anyone has any tips please post. Sewing is definitely not my strongest ability.
Step 10: Enjoy Magnety Goodness
Put in your multi-tool, attach to your belt, and enjoy the powerful and silent opening and closing action of your modified holster. I find when I am working that I use it to hold things I am frequently using on a particular project. Instead of sticking the mini screwdriver in my mouth, it snaps nicely on the pouch.
This is my entry for the Instructables/Etsy Sew Useful contest, if you would like to purchase this holster, my Etsy listing is here. I am sure (actually I am hoping) you would much rather make your own.
Some caveats and warnings. I work around computers, televisions/CRT's, and other sensitive electronics. To my knowledge I have not gaussed any monitors or accidentally erased any hard drives, but I am sure it could happen. I find myself occasionally sticking to car doors and computer racks. I would NOT wear this if I was working around metal shavings, they would stick to the outside of the pouch and probably stick in my fingers the next time I opened the holster. But, if you work in a place like that, you probably already figured that out.