Magnetic-tipped screwdrivers are handy and simplify a variety of jobs. If you are thinking of working with screws on small electronics or trying to place screws in difficult-to-reach places, when your screws are held in place, things are far easier to do.
The best news is that practically any screwdriver can be magnetized and demagnetized using a common household magnet. In the most basic way, you place a magnet on the base of your screwdriver shaft and move your screwdriver across the face of the magnet until it pulls away from the tip. Should you wish to demagnetize, you do the steps in reverse.
You can easily lift ferrous (iron-based) metal screws from those places they have fallen or held in position for when you can’t easily hold them with your fingers.
You can use our guide to learn more about using a rare earth magnet or any other powerful magnet to magnetize your existing screwdriver set. Now, there is little need to purchase a specific set of magnetic tipped screwdrivers.
By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to turn any screwdriver into a magnetic screwdriver using this simple trick to magnetize screwdrivers for free. (Find the Best Screwdrivers For the Money)
How Do You Permanently Magnetize a Screwdriver?
To magnetize iron-based objects, all you have to do is run neodymium or other rare-earth magnet using a single direction across any metal tool containing iron. This trick is handy with hand tools like screwdrivers, which will lift and hold the screw in place while you work.
You only need five minutes to magnetize a screwdriver today, but it will save you a lot of time in the future.
- Neodymium rare earth magnet (the stronger the magnet, the better)
- Cleaning cloth
How to Magnetize a Screwdriver
Step 1: Get a 1⁄4 pound-to-1 pound neodymium magnet pull strength. If you don’t have one, several web stores specialize in low-cost magnets.
Step 2: Using a dry rag or cloth, wipe away any dirt or debris from the screwdriver’s metal parts. If the tool is filthy, use a moist rag to clean it, then let it dry before proceeding thoroughly.
Step 3: In one hand, hold the screwdriver, and in the other, the magnet. Slide the magnet along the tool’s metal shaft carefully from handle to tip, continuing the action slightly past the point where the screws will come into contact. Repeat several times and turning the tool a quarter turn each time.
Repeat the quarter turn and stroke sequence four times more, as the magnetism will be stronger the more strokes you make (and the more iron in your tool).
Swiping the magnet in the opposite direction across your screwdriver’s shaft can remove any magnetism you’ve achieved.
Step 4: Test the new magnetized screwdriver’s strength to discover if it’s enough for your needs.
To see if the screwdriver can lift and hold a screw, test it with a screw. Repeat Step 3 or repeat the entire process several times if you want a stronger pull. (Learn Flat Head Screwdriver Sizes)
How Long Will a Screwdriver Stay Magnetized?
You’ll want to know how long a screwdriver’s magnetic force lasts once you’ve learned how to make a screwdriver magnetic.
It should magnetize your screwdriver for at least three months; however, dropping it in your toolbox can weaken it sooner as the magnetic elements are thrown out of alignment.
Reverse the direction you slide the magnet down the screwdriver shaft—in this case, from tip to handle—to purposely demagnetize the tool.
Pro Tip: You can also magnetize one by taking some wire, wrapping it around the shaft of the screwdriver, and placing each end momentarily to any 12 volts (car battery) source.
How to Magnetize a Screwdriver Using a Car Battery
Step 1: Using a wire stripper, remove the insulation from both ends of a piece of wire. Strip roughly an inch (2.5 cm) of insulation from either end of a piece of wire that is at least 3 ft. (0.9m) long.
Thick wire is less effective than thin wire because it will overheat. 16–22 AWG (1.3–0.6mm diameter) wire is a superb choice. Stronger magnetism is possible with thinner insulation. The best results come from an enamel-coated wire. Rub the wire with 220-grit sandpaper to strip the enamel from the ends.
Step 2: Wrap the wire around the screwdriver ten to twenty times around the shaft. If the screwdriver is too short, make a second layer, but don’t reverse the loop’s direction.
Step 3: Attach the wire ends to a 6V or 9V battery’s terminals. The current running creates a magnetic field through the coils, which magnetizes the screwdriver.
It is not recommended to use higher voltage batteries unless you have prior experience to magnetize a screwdriver with anything more powerful than a 9-volt battery. It takes a split second, and longer could cause the wires to overheat, so protect yourself from shocks and burns by wearing insulated gloves. (Learn How To Remove Drywall Anchors)
Step 4: Disconnect the battery from the system. While attached to the battery, the screwdriver will always be magnetic, but the wire and battery terminals will quickly heat.
After 30 to 60 seconds, disconnect the battery and pick up a screw with the screwdriver. It will still be magnetic in most circumstances.
Wrap a couple of extra loops of wire around the screwdriver if it loses its magnetism once the battery is disconnected and try again.