Make a Basic Electromagnet

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Intro: Make a Basic Electromagnet

Electromagnets are very useful tools. They have the ability to gain a magnetic field with the introduction of current and to lose it once the current ceases. We will be building a very simple one that works with these principles. It is also a very cheap project, I had everything needed to make it lying around my house.


Update 1/27:
I added a better video, it isn't great, but it is an improvement.

Step 1: Gather Materials

For this project we will need:

One large nail
Around 5 feet of 16 gauge wire.
One D cell battery
Some electrical tape (optional)

All of this can be bought at a hardware store for under $4.

Tools:
Wire stripper
Pliers

Step 2: Start Wrapping!

Start wrapping your wire tightly around your nail. If you need to compress the coils, just pust the wire against the head of the nail. Keep in mind that the tighter the coils are, the stronger the magnet will be.

Step 3: The Finished Product and Video

So now we have our magnet finished. Lets take it and test it out!

**WARNING**
This will get very hot if you leave the battery connected for to long. Please be careful! I am not responsible for you if you are burnt.

Step 4: Connect Your Battery

Now we will get power into this. Strip both ends of the wire and connect them to your battery. I used electrical tape to hold down my battery, but you don't need to.

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122 Discussions

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lachie the epic

6 months ago

Does having a bigger core (e.g. wider nail) make a difference to the output force?

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sacredSamH13

Reply 1 year ago

I just saw this in an ad, haven't thought about this article for years! It's pretty weird seeing your content out there like that.

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hamo5

3 years ago on Introduction

This is so cool i am 10 and i made one myself.

:-]

EPIC

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Kitemanchalky

Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

And the more turns on the coil and the closer together they are as well. That's why commercial transformers (in wall-warts and the like) use very thin enamelled wire, because the enamel is thinner than PVC insulation, so the wires can be crammed closer together.

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alsports2000Kiteman

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Greetings wiseman: I've read that overheating is a common problem when using electromagnets, is there a way to keep them cool or just turn it on and off when they get too hot???. Thanks. AL.

i bet u can make a card board ice holder that u can hot glue or something to the side. maybe the side that is next to the batteries/device should be 3-5 peices of paper. if so, put the ice in a bag.

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alsports2000Kiteman

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Greetings Kiteman: Just a quick question, how are the wires on both ends of the battery supposed to be secured???. Does it matter if they are taped or do they need to be secured in another manner????.. Thanks. AL.

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alsports2000Kiteman

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Kiteman: Would using an earth magnet instead of a nail to make an electromagnet be a good idea??. I know from what I've read here that dealing with the overheating of an electromagnet is a problem but please give me your advise. Thank you wiseman. AL.

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Kitemanalsports2000

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Not for making an electromagnet, no, mainly because you can't switch a rare-earth magnet off.

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alsports2000Kiteman

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Why didn't I think of that?? You don't have to answer that wiseman and thank you for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. AL.

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chriskarrKiteman

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

But, Kiteman, I thought it was the amperage that induces magnetism, and not the voltage. That's why, even though the voltage is high, a wall transformer that puts out 10kV DC and 23mA won't have the same effect as a car battery that can put out 20(?) amps at twelve volts.

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Kitemanchriskarr

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Any electric wire carrying current has an associated magnetic field per unit length. You only notice it when you coil the wire to concentrate the field. The more coils, the greater the length of wire is gathered into the magnet. The greater the length of wire, the more field is concentrated in the magnet.