What to Do With a Dead Microwave!




About: Computers and Wine

"There's ceramic magnets in them there hills!!!"

It has a some electronics that are worth salvaging,

but the real treasure is the 2 fairly powerful ring magnets in the magnetron.

It takes a bit of work to get them but they are worth the trouble.


1 The magnets are fairly brittle do not try to pry them out.

2. These are uncoated magnets and are easy to break.

Step 1: This Is the Magnetron It Is the Heart of What Makes Microwaves.

Remove the cabinet, unplug all the wiring, (be careful of the big capacitor), and pull this part out.

It contains no poison gas, no radioactive parts, just copper, steel, aluminum, and ceramic.

This is what it looks like.

The magnets are the two black parts separated by the fins in the second photo.

Step 2: Hacksaw and Dremel Time!

Cut away the steel case.

I used a Dremel to first cut the tabs on the top, and then the bottom of the side panels.

The first photo shows the tabs that hold the top on.

The third shows the unit with the top off and the sides and bottom removed. The 2 copper coils came from the bottom of the unit.

As it turned out, I might have been able to pull the top magnet by lifting the thin steel washer that was holding it in place..

Step 3: Further Disassembly

I clamped the nose of the unit in a vice and the bottom was easy to twist and remove. That allowed the lower magnet to be removed.

The second photo shows the base removed and the magnet out.

I got a bit over zealous with the vice and crushed the ceramic nose as you can see from the photos.

The top magnet I removed by carefully prying up the thin steel washer that was on top. It had a flange that wedged the magnet in place.

The third photo shows the stripped unit and the "liberated" magnets.

Step 4: The Reward

Two lovely big ( 2+ inch diameter) rare earth magnets. The poles are on the flat sides so you can "levitate" one by putting the same poles facing each other, Like my first photo.

Now you have some "free" magnets for your next project.

Have fun and happy salvaging!



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    12 Discussions


    3 years ago

    you did the most dangerous thing you could do. you broke the ceramic insulator. that ceramic is made with beryllium oxide, a very poisonus metal, and if inhaled just once it can couse serious lungs problems


    4 years ago on Introduction

    What is the capacitor . . .and is it dangerous?

    In other words, can I just give my 11 year old the old microwave and let him take it apart for fun?

    4 replies
    Seymour Heineseamster

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The capacitor stores a high voltage charge, and yes it is dangerous. You should discharge it by shorting the terminals together. A pair of pliers with rubber handles is good for that.

    The magnetron can also be dangerous if the ceramic insulator contains beryllium. You can google berylliosis and see you don't want to crush that and create any dust.

    How about you and your kid take it apart together and he can learn how it works. There's a lot of cool stuff in there: a big transformer, a big capacitor, a big diode, several micro-switches, a fan, a light bulb, thermal switches, maybe a low RPM motor, maybe even a cool vacuum flourescent display. Then you can rewire the transformer and have fun melting metal.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the photo and comment. If you leave the microwave off for a while the capacitor should discharge. Putting a piece metal across the contacts will discharge the capacitor (use a long impement with an insulated handle and be prepared for a BIG spark),


    Those magnets are awesome. I got some out of a microwave. They were really hard to get out. I used an angle grinder. It took a while.

    Seymour Heine

    4 years ago

    The magnets are ceramic, not rare earth. You can pull them straight off with your hand.

    Don't put the tube in a vise. That part you crushed likely contained beryllium which is toxic.

    1 reply
    jscanlanSeymour Heine

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    You may be right. This one had the top magnet affixed with a thin flanged washer. I was reluctant at first to pry on the magnet, but the washer came off wilt a bit of effort and freed the magnet. Good magnets anyway.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I love finding free magnets! Having messed around with microwaves and other high voltage devices, this can be a little dangerous. I would probably add to your instructable more information on that capacitor that you alluded to.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    If it has one the turntable motor makes a nice shocker