Salvage Neodymium Magnets from an Old Hard Drive

Donald Bell

I make stuff, play music, and sometimes make stuff that plays music. Donut enthusiast. Let's talk about Arduino, BEAM robotics, skateboarding, Buckminster Fuller, art bots and blinking lights.

64 Articles

By Donald Bell

I make stuff, play music, and sometimes make stuff that plays music. Donut enthusiast. Let's talk about Arduino, BEAM robotics, skateboarding, Buckminster Fuller, art bots and blinking lights.

64 Articles

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Scavenging parts from old, discarded electronics is a skill every maker should hone. Old hard drives in particular are stuffed with useful components and greeblies that you can incorporate into other projects. They’re also just plain fun to open up (at least once you find those hidden screws manufacturers hide under their labels to prevent tampering).

The folks at iFixit have a great teardown worth checking out that walks you through the process of opening a hard drive. The critical tool you’ll need is a set of Torx drivers or bits (typically T4, T6, and T8).

If there’s a pearl to be plucked from a hard drive, it’s the large, super strong Neodymium (rare earth) magnet. Manufacturers typically tuck these magnets under a permalloy bracket in the corner of the drive nearest the actuator arm that moves across the disc.

In the video shown here, you’ll see where to locate the magnet, how to remove the bracket, and how to use a vise and wrench to get a purchase on the strong magnet and remove it. A standard 3.5” internal hard drive should yield two crescent-shaped magnets.

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What can you make with the magnets when you’re done? Two projects that spring to mind are a magnetic knife rack, or this magnetic tablet holster. As shown in the video, the magnets also offer an easy way to collect stray nuts and bolts off your workbench.