How to Sweep for Nails in a Garden Using Neodymium Magnets




Introduction: How to Sweep for Nails in a Garden Using Neodymium Magnets

This is my first Instructables, so please bear with me and be kind.  Thank you.

I just had the old ceramic roof tiles of my home removed and installed new concrete roof tiles.  As part of the process, rotten wood had to be replaced and lots of other wood pieces ("ripas" and "contra-caibros") had to removed and then hammered back since I also installed DuPont Tyvek Reflex sheet covering ( ). Needless to say, hundreds of old nails were removed from the rooftop and they were all over the place around the house.  With 3 kids in the house, they were prohibited from going outside until the job was completed.  After that, I needed to make sure there were no nails in the garden but how to be 100% sure?

I built a simple "Nail Detector" to sweep for nails in the garden.

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Step 1: Building a "Nail Detector"

You will need:

1. a "rodo" (in Portuguese), or a simple rake or squeegee (in the USA)
2. eight (8) Quarter-sized neodymium magnets (bought mine at for other projects)
3. tape
4. cones, or anything else to mark a path in the garden


1. using tape, attach the Quarter-sized neodymium magnets onto the rake at regular intervals
2. that's it! :-)

PS. If you don't own neodymium magnets, you can get 2 of them for FREE inside an old discarded harddrive.

Step 2: Garden Area

This is the Garden that needs to be swept by the "Nail Detector"

Step 3: Nails!!!! Lots of Them!!!

After spending about 1.5 hours sweeping the garden slowly, 35 nails were found by the "Nail Detector".

The kids are still prohibited from going outside until it's fully swept.  Actually, just to be sure, I'm thinking of building a new "Nail Detector" using a 110Volt Electromagnet used for doors:  I just cannot imagine having one of my kids or their friends stepping on one of these abandoned nails.

Thank you!

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    8 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Is the boy trying metal detecting in the backyard?? Funny boy.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Dear Tommy Varro, if you spend the time to read carefully, the "metal detecting" was for a very good cause...removing old nails from the garden that the roofing company "carefully" removed when changing our roof tiles.


    8 years ago on Step 3

    Surley there is a diy metal detector out there somewhere that will check for and help you locate any more nails or metal out there and keep them out of the kids feet!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Good Idea. I think I'll see if gorilla glue will work attaching magnets to a garden rake. I need to rake my driveway for nails that have been mysteriously been appearing and flattening my tires ever since I had an argument with my neighbor over his biting dog.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    My mom did something similar after she replaced the roofing on the trailer - we have a gravel driveway and the nails got mixed right in!

    I love your method, and the execution is nice and clean. :)