Build Your Own Magnet Separator Tool
We are often asked how we separate large
magnets. We have built several magnet separator
tools over the years and have been continually improving
the design. The tool is made out of wood and is
fairly simple to build with only a basic woodworking
knowledge. Here we will illustrate and explain the
process of building such a tool.
WARNING: Follow all safety
procedures when working with and operating woodworking
tools. This page is meant only as a guide and not
as a step-by-step procedure. Observe all warnings
and safety precautions with each tool. Read every
users manual from front to back and memorize the part
number for every replacement part of each tool before
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This is what the finished tool will look like. The material and tools required
to build it are pretty minimal. It is constructed out of standard 2x4's and 2x6's.
Supplies and Equipment
Here are the basic tools and materials needed to build your own magnet separator. You will need about 6' of 2x6 and about 3' of 2x4 to build the separator as shown. The only other materials needed are screws (or nails) to fasten some parts together and a 1/2" diameter x 6" bolt with a lock nut and a few washers to act as the pivot for the lever arm.
The basic tools needed are a saw for cutting wood, a drill for drilling the hole for the pivot bolt and possibly driving screws, wrenches for tightening the bolt and nut. A tape measure and square are handy, but not absolutely required.
Build the body
Start by cutting two 18" pieces of 2x6. Place the two boards side-by-side and screw them together with four screws, one in each corner, about 1" from the edges. When finished, the pieces should look just like the picture to
the left. This will be the body of the separator tool.
Mark the notch for cut out
Using a square, mark the piece to cut out of the boards as shown. If you will be separating block magnets, it is advantageous if the 'V' is at a 90 degree angle. The center of the notch should be about 1/3 of the way from the back end of the boards (where the pivot bolt will go), and about 1/3 of the way through the 6" dimension of the 2x6's.
Cut it out
Cut out the notch. A good 'ol hand saw will do just fine if you don't have the power tool access or power tool skills.
Layout the lever arm
Cut a piece of 2x6 to a length of 22-26". The lever arm works best if it is cut to three
levels. The part of the board above the line will become our lever arm. The rightmost section will be where the pivot bolt goes through. The middle section will be the part that does the actual magnet separating, and the leftmost section will be the handle.
The easiest way to lay this out is to align the back of the lever arm board with the back of the body you built earlier. Then make a mark on the lever 1" on either side of the notch you cut. These marks will be where the middle section begins and ends. From there, you can draw rough diagonals as shown. Each step is about 1/3 of the 6" width.
Cut out the lever arm
This is about what the lever arm should look like.
Drill the holes for the pivot bolt
This is the most critical part of the process. The hole in the lever arm should be about 1" from the back end, in line with the flat surface of the middle section of the lever arm. The hole in the body should also be 1" from the back end, but this should be aligned with the bottom of the cut out notch. When using the finished tool, this alignment of the holes will cause the magnets to separate just about when the lever arm is horizontal. We have found this to work best.
Bolt on the lever arm
Put the bolt through the holes in the body and lever arm. If you are right handed, the tool will be easier to use if the lever is on the right side as shown. If you are left handed, the lever should go on the left side. Tighten the bolt so the lever arm moves freely, but is snug to the body. A lock nut or double nut will keep the nut from loosening during use.
(Actually, it is easier if you screw on the feet as shown in the next step before bolting the arm on, but we didn't take pictures of that during the build.)
Cut and attach the stabilizing feet
Cut two pieces of 2x4 to 12-14" in length. Screw or nail them on to the bottom of the body as shown. You now have a functional magnet separator tool.
Start separating magnets
Hang one magnet under the lever as shown.
Use the lever arm to slide the magnet from the
magnet(s) in the cut out notch. Be careful
that the magnet being separated does not jump
back towards the other magnets once it is free.
A second person to catch the magnet is very
Send us your pictures! If you build a magnet separating tool of your own, please send us a picture and/or describe any improvements you have made so we can share them with others.