Magnetic Floor/Yard Cleaner




Have you ever dropped a nail or screw on the floor and not be able to find where it went too until it ends up stuck in your shoe, or worse, your foot? This will help to quickly fix that. Usually the answer is to grab a magnet, get down on the old prayer bones, and sweep around until you hear the tell tale "click", and then it might not be the nail/screw you dropped this time, but the one you dropped and couldn't find a week ago.

My idea makes this process a whole lot faster and easier, and is very simple to make. No Major tools involved in it's construction. Most materials you may have on hand already.

For this instructable, I am only going to make a 2 magnet cleaner simply because I am running low on parts. I will also have to improvise on some steps for the same reason, and also in one step because some of my drill bits seem to have walked off.

Of course, my camera died a week ago, so all i can add to this in the way of pictures are sketches to demonstrate what I am talking about at the time. Also, this is my first "ible", so please try and bear with me.

UPDATE: I have borrowed a friends camera, so have added photos along with the sketches.

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Step 1: Gathering Materials

The materials needed are:

1 - Broom Handle

6 to 8 Magnets from scrapped microwaves

1 - 2x4 or 2 - 1x4's 18 to 24 inches long

Steel rod about 6 to 8 inches longer than your 1x4's and the same diameter as your wheels hubs(I would not suggest threaded rod as this will tend to eat up your wheel hubs)

2 - lawn mower wheels

2 - clamps (either hose clamps or pipe clamps as pictured above small enough to clamp tightly onto your steel rod.

4 - washers to fit onto the steel rod

screws 1-1/4 inch long (I normally use drywall screws) maybe 10 or 12 of them


Depending on the wheels used, make sure that the 2x4 isn't too thick. measure on the wheel from the edge of the hole in the hub to the edge of the wheel. You will want about 1 and 1/2 inch from the 2x4 to the ground. If you don't have enough clearance, just use a 1x4 instead.

Step 2: Tools

This is the "massive" list of tools required for this construction:

Drill and drill bits and spade bit. (Mine seems to have walked away, so will have to improvise)



clamps (1 for each magnet, or glue 1 magnet for each clamp you have at a time))

Wow, now my fingers are cramped up from typing that list. ;D

Step 3: Construction

Depending on how many of the microwave magnets you have will determine how wide your main base will be, as you can see from the sketch above.

Now you need to determine your length of the 2x4 (or 1x4) depending on how many magnets you have. I have used 3 inches per magnet as a basic rule of thumb and it has worked out about right. So 6 magnets would work out as 18 inches long, 8 magnets as 24 inches. As I only have 2 left, mine will be fairly short, but no less effective. I have cut my board to 10 inches long just to make things easier to photograph, but the only piece in decent shape i had was only 3 inches wide. We can make this work though.

If using 1x4's, you will want to glue them together to make an equivalent of a 2x4. Or if using just a single 1x4, cut a block as wide as your main board and about 3 inches in length. Clamp this block to a scrap piece of wood like in the 2nd picture above and drill through with a drill bit the size of your steel rod. Make sure it leaves an open channel along the face of the block. This will add a little extra support to your axle as well as to your handle. Put your steel rod through the opening you just drilled out. Glue the block to the face of the 1x4 and centered lengthwise. I usually add a couple of screws in this step to secure the block a bit more. Also add a couple screws to the steel rod to help hold it in place like shown in the 3rd picture..

Next, you want to find the center point between the 2 ends of the board and mark it near the back edge of the block, maybe 3/4 or 1 inch from the edge. Drill a hole at about a 45 degree angle into the board with the drill pointing towards the center of the board. This will be used to attach the handle like in the 6th picture.. Do not drill all the way through, you will want to stop just shy of breaking through the back side of the board. If using a single 1x4, the hole will go through the block you added.

Flip the board over and spread glue generously over one entire surface of one of the magnets. Place the magnet near one end of the board and clamp it down securely. I used gorilla glue, but i would think most types of glue would work here. You want to keep the magnets about 1 inch apart as you mount them. I figured the spacing between the magnets as about 1 inch, and glued every other magnet into place. Once dry, Install the rest of the magnets between the first set, being sure to clamp them well to make sure they don't move on you.

Add one washer to each end of the axle, put on your wheels, another washer then your clamps to hold them on. Here is where my material list is getting difficult. Instead of a steel rod, I had to use a piece cut from a plastic hanger, which happened to be the perfect size for my wheels. Instead of clamping, I just heated the excess sticking out from the hub with my handy dandy all purpose heating device (lighter) and bent it over to hold the wheel on. Not a great idea for a permanent mount, but works well enough to be able to show how this works. WARNING: Melted or softened plastic is very hot. If you try this, do not touch the softened plastic with your bare fingers, you WILL get burned.

All that's left now is to glue your broom handle into the hole you drilled in the top side, run a screw or nail into the edge of the 2x4 to go through the end of the broom handle and let it all dry.

Step 4: Conclusion

Once dry it is just about ready to use. To keep the little metal shavings and stuff from clogging up the magnets, I covered them all with blue painters tape from wheel to wheel and several rows wide. You want the entire magnets on the bottom of the board well covered. When clogged with metal particles and what not, just strip all the tape off at one time over a garbage can. Then just reapply new painters tape and you are ready to go again.

Now just run this over either your shop floor or around your driveway and yard to pick up any nails, screws or other dangerous small metal objects and enjoy a metal free walking area.

One tip, don't try to hurry with this. Just walk at a normal, casual pace and it will pick up just about everything ferrous it comes across.

I have included a video to demonstrate how well it works. As you'll see in the video, it helps when you actually run this over the item to be picked up. :D

I would love to see how yours turns out. If you have any suggestions, improvements or modifications please feel free to let me know.

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    33 Discussions

    It's an awsome item now i don't have to ever worry about getting things stuck in my feet because i now have something that keeps it from happening i appreciate your work. thank you matrix

    1 reply

    This is a very helpful item. I think that line diagrams and sketches are at times much clearer than pictures and besides that they are refreshing to the eye if you know what I mean.

    I just want to say that as a first attempt to find small objects that fall on the floor try taking a flashlight of any size and lay it on its side. Then get on your knees and put your head near the floor - like 2 - 3 inches from the floor. You will be amazed at what you see - usually you start thinking that you have to clean the floor.

    Why don't you consider obtaining a patent on this invention. (obtain info and if need pay a lawyer or get in touch with the proper office that issues patents) You could refine it a bit more or as is and then find someone or friends who are willing to make some of them and put them up for sale. You may have the beginnings of a small business which is pretty good these days. All the very best.

    1 reply

    Thank you.

    The initial reason for making this is that I have a really bad back. Getting down on the floor isn't really a problem, but getting back up is.

    As for a patent, I would love to, but as Mr_o_uk commented, these are already a common item in the construction industry. I am not sure that this is enough different to qualify in getting a patent on. It may be worth taking a look into though. Thank you for the idea.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    near idea! I have put some plastic sheeting over the magnets so you can pull it off when trying to throw away the metal it picked up.

    1 reply

    Great idea. That would be much more dourable than the painters tape. Could use that and the clips that were suggested earlier. Thank you.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    For those asking or wondering about the neodymium magnets, if that is what you have, by all means use them. Just be careful of the ones with the raised mounting tabs like in the first pic. But as you see in the second, I have added a few to the one I made for this instructable. There is a slight improvement in it's ability, but I kind of think it is from more magnets not so much from type. The debris seems to collect evenly across all magnets.

    1 reply

    I forgot to mention why you should be aware of the raised tabs. If you use a paper cover or painters tape, they tend to tear through the covering and allow the debris to collect on the magnets.


    4 years ago

    Nice build. We use these on construction sites. They are really useful for clearing up tying wire (from constructing reinforced concrete) and bolts. They tend to come with a 'collection box' like a lawnmower has. That would be a good thing to add if you were considering progressing the design. Google "construction magnetic sweeper" and you will see what I mean.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Awww man, I thought I had an original idea. ;-( lol But that is a great idea. Can't seem to find one with a collection box, but i see a lot with a quick release to drop that which is collected. Mark-4 in the works I think. Thank you.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    It can find lost Lego parts :-)

    I'm kidding this is pretty smart, I do the same without the wheels - I don't know how I didn't think about it. Thanks for sharing :-)

    4 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    LOL :-) I didn't know Lego is pricey everywhere, I thought it is only here.

    By the way, this is a very usefull tool for shops you can find nails, screws, bolts or every peice of iron metal in there.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Also, yes lego's are expensive here as well, but if I could invent a magnet that could attract PLASTIC,....$$$$$$


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Dropped my keys one time in the shop. They had fallen out of my pocket and I didn't realize it. This found them for me. They had gone under my desk. Boy was I glad I had it then. Thank God for steel key rings.

    The Manic Puppeteer

    4 years ago

    Nice tool concept! I would recommend using neodymium magnets instead however, those would find an object quicker.

    3 replies

    That is pretty much what HDD magnets are. That was my first thought as well. My first attempt used those with no real difference in effectiveness. The main problem I came across with those are, I could only use one of the set. The other one has raised ears that tore through the covering after a short time allowing shavings and such to clog up the magnets. I could have purchased larger, more powerful magnets, but the point was really to make this with what was readily available.

    Any time. It was a great idea. I guess you could call this Mark-3. The first 2 versions were ok, just not quite what I was looking for. lol Been using this version for a couple of years now. The one I use in my shop is almost 30 inches wide with 8 of these magnets. Built this smaller version just for this instrucable.


    4 years ago

    Мaybe it makes sense to wrap the magnets with paper to facilitate removal of iron shavings and fine details. I propose to provide for this clips in version 2. Thanks, interesting and useful idea.