Intro: Fridge Flowers
My wife and I get a lot of bills each month and we found that most magnets on the market aren't strong enough to hold them all up on the fridge in one stack. I knew of "hard drive magnets" and their immense strength, but I thought for this use they would be too-strong. How would I get it off the fridge if there was no bundle under it? As well, the nickel-plated surface was smooth, but would scratch appliance paint if slid. I thought about answering the problem of getting it off the fridge with a handle of some kind, but this solution brought problems of its own. Not many glues stick to the smooth nickel, and if they do, it's not for long.
I had the idea of wrapping fabric around it, to both cushion the surfaces from scratching and also add a handle to grip the magnet. I tried various methods to secure the fabric around the top side of the magnet, but the one that ultimately worked the best was to wrap it with a straightened and cut paperclip wire. And I also refined the process to be able to be performed by just one person.
Step 1: Choose the Fabric
Really, this is up to you, but I suggest a good heavy cotton fabric with some stiffness to it. It'll resist wear and also look good for a long time. I've had my earliest models for several years now and they still look good. Remember when picking the fabric that the thicker the layering, the weaker the magnetic hold due to distance from the fridge door. I started out with one layer, but then moved to double layering for appearance. But I suggest against more than two layers.
Step 2: Get the Magnets
The ones I used for the bulk of mine and those I sold to others were bought at the local wally-world store in the craft section. They are the only ones with a chrome look. The black ones are good for some stuff, but for the strength, you can't beat the rare-earth magnets. The ones I used were 1/2 inch diameter coin magnets, about 1/8 inch thick. Another source of magnets at bulk pricing is:
K&J Magnetics, Inc.
This size is roughly what I bought, and you get a quantity discount for larger orders. At 83 cents each, it's the same price as from the wally-world. You can get 25 of them from that site for under $20.
Step 3: Cut the Fabric to Size
A good size to work with is between three and four inches square. Getting what's called a "fat square" (or maybe it was "fat-quarter")(a quilting term) from the local fabric store will give you about 24 flowers, with a cut pattern of 4 by 6 squares from the material. So pick out the best from the samples there. That's all I do. It lets me get in and get out without having to talk to someone and have them cut a whole yard of fabric off a role, which I'd never use anyway.
A good way to measure it out is to fold it up and iron it. The creases are the cut lines. Nice and uniform.
Step 4: Ready the Metal
Take your paperclips and straighten all the curves out of them. Then cut them into sections about an inch and a half long. For the smaller paperclips, cut in half. For the larger paperclips, cut in thirds. It doesn’t have to be exact, just close.
After the shorter metal wires are cut, bend them with a sharp curve on the end and a wider curve going out from there. The sharp curve will make it possible for one person to do it by their self.
Step 5: Assembly
When you have the magnet roughly centered on the fabric square, take the corners and pull them upward, while holding the magnet down flat. Sometimes it helps to do this part on a magnetic surface like a cookie sheet. Bunch the fabric up into a bundle, and give it a twist.
Then, take the curls you just bent and wrap them around the fabric just behind the magnet. Bring the wire around until the tight hook catches in the fabric folds. Then take the pliers you used to straighten the paperclips out and grab a hold on the straight end of the wire and wrap it around a few more times. Then crush the wire down into a tighter wrap, securing the fabric from unwinding or sliding out of the wire.
Step 6: Repeat
Continue this as often as you need. I've found that once you have a handful, you'll always want more, so a few dozen is a good stopping point. That is unless you have one of those industrial fridges that you need a Sherpa and pack-mule to hunt in for cold-cuts.