Rare earth magnets are kind of the things that can have a million and one different uses in a woodworking ‘shop. You’ve probably seen them available from places like Axminster, generally sold in quantities no greater than ten. Once you’ve started using a few of them, you soon begin to realise just how beneficial they can be and that initial pack of ten doesn’t go very far at all. That’s why I’d advise you to take a look at some of the listings on eBay, where bulk packs of fifty or even one-hundred magnets can be purchased for a very reasonable sum of money. I recently stocked up on a quantity of 8mm and 10mm diameter magnets (5mm and 7mm thick, respectively) and I thought I take the time to show you what I’ve been using them for so far. Perhaps this will give you some ideas for your own workshop.
About this time two-years ago, I finished building a bench-top router table (though, sadly, it isn’t currently documented online anywhere). If ever you build your own router table, I’d advise you to add some kind of door to the front of the unit – that way, you can still access the collet for cutter changing but also, it does help to keep much of the noise contained. Most people would hinge their doors so that they swing either to the left or right. As I wanted to keep my design fairly small (benchtop), I feared this would mean that the door gets in the way when I’m trying to tighten or loosen the spanner. So, I opted to hinge it on the bottom so that it swings downwards… And it still got in the way! Except, this time, it was pressing in to my upper legs.
Having recently installed two pairs of magnets though (one pair in the door, the other in the frame), I can now lift the door away with ease and ‘hang it‘ on my cast iron bandsaw, where it’s totally out of the way. It also holds firmly in place while the router’s running.
In the photo above, you’ll also notice that I’ve begun “magnetising” the wooden push-sticks that I use predominantly with my bandsaw, router table and now, of course, the table saw:
Like most woodworkers, I prefer wooden [well, some are MDF, in this case!] push-sticks. Not only for the feel but, if a plastic push-stick was to catch the wrong side of a spinning table saw blade, it could easily be propelled up towards your face. I find that wooden ones give you better control, with less of a risk of slippage. They’re more likely to be cut and damaged, rather than projected across the workshop.
Back over on the bandsaw, one final mod. (for now) was to fit this MDF box on top of the saw:
This covers a rectangular hole, which allows the wheel to rise sufficiently when tensioning a blade 19-32mm [¾in-1¼in] wide. It should also prevent any future mis-haps should a blade decide to go ‘bang‘ again in future – last time that happened, I ended up with a lethal 8ft length of ½in x 3tpi blade dangling just inches above my head! There are plenty of magnets there so, I doubt that the force of even a wide, thick blade would be enough to send the MDF construction on its way! 😉
With so little spare time to spend in the [cold!] workshop at the minute, that’s about all I have to share on the usefulness of rare earth magnets in the workshop, for now. Hopefully, this is enough to give you some ideas of your own. They also have plenty of applications for use in furniture making – you can embed them within blocks of wood to create door catches, drawer stops and the like, just to give you a couple more ideas.
This morning, in fact; I came across an idea over on UKworkshop for improving dust extraction on a bandsaw, where the jig is held in place with… Yes, you guessed it! 😉
Thanks for reading.