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Thread: Magnets from Hard Drives...

  1. #1
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    Magnets from Hard Drives...

    This is not exactly woodworking, so I wasn't sure which sub-forum to put it in.

    Magnets are cool, and fun, and very useful around the home and shop. Lots of us use rare earth magnets in many projects.

    I have magnets in my featherboards. I use magnets when changing my DC bag to help hold things in place. We use magnets to hold notes to the door, and so on and so on...

    What you may not know, is that computer hard drives (aka: hard disks, or HDs) contain two powerful magnets.

    Here is a quick and simple photo essay on destroying old HDs to salvage the magnets in them.

    Start with an old or broken HD that is destined for the recycling bin.

    I am fortunate in that I work at a university and have access to a whole bunch of old HD's that are being scrapped and tossed into the recycling bin. These are 10+ year old units, either too old, too broken, or too small for continued use.


    Peel back all the stickers, and then remove all the torx screws. There are TEN holding this HD closed. They really don't want you getting in there. (And of course normally you don't want to get in there, they are sealed to protect your data!!!) Actually 11, there was another one, even smaller than my smallest torx head screwdriver that I had access to:


    Fortunately, a bit of brute force prying was enough to rip off the cover. Go ahead and force it. You don't care about this drive anymore, otherwise you would't be taking it apart! There may be a thin bead of silicone (or similar) as a sealant around the edges of the lid holding it down. Hopefully on your drive you won't have to get sou forceful, if you can manage to remove all the screws.


    And here is my sample HD with both magnets removed. The read/write arm gets a bit bent. That really can't be helped, as it is most definitely in the way. But it's also very delicate, so it's easy to force out of the way. The upper magnet is on the left. It nicely has 3 mounting holes, that you can use to fasten it to something. The lower magnet is on the right. These always have some form of bent "legs" (for lack of a better term) sticking up. This makes them a bit harder to work with, if you want to incorporate this magnet into another project. Oh well, that's what hacksaws and grinders are good at removing!


    Here I made a simple hook with some oak and a peg as a proof of concept, using the top magnet.


    It's quite strong. I'm trying to figure out how I could use something like this in a featherboard in the shop. The trick might be the removing of the magnet once it is attached to the cast iron! Not sure if I could replicate those dial-magnets that are on a lot of commercial featherboards


    And here is the lower magnet, just hanging on the body of my bandsaw. Note that the magnet isn't actually touching! The shaped legs are holding the magnet at almost 1/4" from the metal of the Bandsaw, and yet it is still strong enough to hold. These particular model of HD's have VERY strong magnets.


    Got some more photos on my website, http://www.wordsnwood.com/2013/magnets/, but this is the basic idea.

    Hope you found it interesting.
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
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  2. #2
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    Nice tutorial! Everyone should save HD magnets

    FYI - If you give the magnets a sharp SMACK they will usually release from the holder without breaking (the actual magnet is the little curved thing not the convoluted assembly its fastened to). I usually clamp the carrier in a vise and then put a screwdriver against the side of the magnet itself and give it a judicious whack with a hammer and only maybe break 10%. The backside of the magnet will unfortunately usually loose the glossy coating when you do that, so just put that side down when you epoxy it into whatever you're using it for I find them more useful in that state since you're just left with the small magnet instead of the carrier.

    I don't think you can understate how STRONG these are, they are literally blood blister causing strong if you get two of them together!! And if you let them "jump" together you have high odds of breaking them.

    Also does anyone know what the magical material the magnets are fastened to (the carrier is? Somehow it seems to block magnetic force, but I have no idea what it is..

  3. #3
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    The metal in the hard drives that the magnets are connected to is called Mu-metal
    From Wikipedia, it is specially formulated to provide a magnetic shield

  4. #4
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    I have three old computers that have bad power supplies, looks like I'll make use of the magnets rather than just smashing the drives as usual...Thanks
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  5. #5
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    Great tip.

    I guess I've just been using the wrong methods for removing the magnets from laptop hard drives.

    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    I guess I've just been using the wrong methods for removing the magnets from laptop hard drives.
    Well, I'm sure there's a certain visceral satisfaction in using your method, Vaughn...

    And thanks to Ryan... I'll have to see if I can separate the magnets. I've never tried that. That's what I love about the collective knowledge/wisdom of forums. I think I'm posting something of value, and here someone comes along with something that I'd never thought of or tried that can improve on the idea!
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mulder View Post
    Not sure if I could replicate those dial-magnets that are on a lot of commercial featherboards
    Grip-Tite featherboards use a cam-lever as shown at the :55 second mark in this video. Just an idea.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  8. #8
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    thanks, Glenn... This is a bit of a moment, given that I have a grip-tite that I use on my TS all the time.
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

  9. #9
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    Ive mentioned the harddrive magnets before for storing tools.

    I have some nailed to studs in the garage, they hold anything. hammers, rulers, crowbars, if I had enough of them, Id nail 50 to a wall and hang my lathe when not in use.
    Human Test Dummy

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