Magnets are metal objects that attract other metallic objects towards them and make them adhere. Examples of magnetic metals are iron, nickel, cobalt, etc. Magnets can be of several types and sizes, the most common ones being those that you use on your refrigerator to hold notes, receipts or your child's artwork. Magnets also have commercial applications, being used in a variety of industrial processes. In this article, you will learn how to make some simple magnets, including an electromagnet, refrigerator magnets, etc.
Making simple magnets. Any small metal object can be made magnetic with the help of a magnet. Take a magnet and rub it against any piece or object made of metal repeatedly like you would use sandpaper to smooth out a surface. Ensure that you rub the magnet always in the same direction and repeat the action at least a 100 times or more. Next, with the object or piece which you've just magnetized, try lifting or attracting any other metal object. Of course, it won't stay magnetized for long, or will not be able to make the other object stick to it completely and will only work if the second piece is smaller and lighter than the magnetized piece!
Making an electromagnet. An electromagnet is a simple piece of metal being magnetized through electricity rather than friction movements as above. To make an electromagnet, you'll need any piece of metal such as a long iron nail or bar more than 6 inches long, about 10 feet of insulated copper wire, a few D-cell batteries and wire strippers.
Remove some of the insulation at both ends of the copper wire with a pair of wire strippers. These exposed ends of the copper wire will be used to make a connection with the batteries.
Leaving some space at both ends of the wire including the exposed areas, wrap the rest of the wire tightly around the iron nail or bar. The wrapping should be all in one direction in order to allow a unidirectional flow of electricity once the magnet is connected to the batteries.
Attach one end of the wire to the positive node of the battery and the other end to the negative node (opposite end of the battery). Your electromagnet is now ready. You can also make a more elaborate set-up by using two or more batteries and connecting to a simple switchboard. Once switched on, you can test your electromagnet by waving it near any metal object.
Making refrigerator magnets. Materials: Any kind of thick paper such as old newspapers, photos, wrapping paper, cereal boxes, etc. for backing You'll also need some clear glass gems or discs, a pair of scissors, strong glue, small round magnets and a hole-punch (makes a hole of about 1.25 inches in circumference). Wash and clean the glass gems or discs thoroughly so that there is no residue adhering to them.
Select whichever image or design from the paper you chosen to use as backing and use the punch-hole or scissors to carefully cut a circular outline around the image or design. This should be around the same size as the glass gem or disc.
Apply a very thin layer of glue across the bottom of the glass gem and carefully affix your image or design face-down on the bottom surface.
At the back of the image backing, put a small dab of glue and press the circular magnet tightly against the backing. Make sure the glue is completely dried before doing this and the magnet is adhered thoroughly to the backing and does not move at all. Complete the rest of the glass gems the same way and your refrigerator magnets are no ready.
Making clay magnets. Materials: modeling clay, superglue, tempera or acrylic paints, flat piece of magnet. Make any shape with the modeling clay, dry or bake as per directions on the box. Use different color paints to make a colorful image and attach the clay piece securely to the magnet with some superglue. Allow the glue to dry and your clay magnet is ready to display or use.
There is no end to the types of magnets you can make using a bit of imagination and lots of creativity. You can make magnets out of marble, bottle-caps, etc. This is an immensely enjoyable and fun activity to take up with the family during long vacations.