How to Magnetize a Screwdriver (So It Holds onto a Screw)

This is an economics blog; here is a life hack that can save you some money, and maybe time.  It can be really helpful to have your screwdriver magnetized, so a screw will stick to it. This past weekend I helped someone repair a microwave door, and for re-assembly I had to get a screw into its hole, where its hole was recessed in a narrow space where I could not have held the screw with my fingers whilst starting it with the screwdriver. So it was very helpful to just stick the screw on the end of the tool, and (carefully) insert the tip of the screw into its threaded hole and just start turning. Likewise, it was helpful in disassembly to be able to draw a screw out with the magnetized tip.

You can go buy a set of magnetized screwdrivers from Amazon. But these get mixed reviews and of course cost money and shipping delay and now you have more screwdrivers to store. A comment in one of the Amazon reviews clued me in that you can easily magnetize a screwdriver which you already have. Here is how:

( 1 ) Start with a strong magnet – – maybe a single magnet that you happen to have, or make a stack of say five medium sized disk refrigerator magnets. Techies can remove magnets from an old speaker or hard drive.

( 2 ) Using only one end (pole) of your magnet, draw it along the  screwdriver shaft, from the top or middle out to the end, always in the same direction. Do this maybe four times, then rotate the screwdriver a quarter turn, then make another four strokes, and so on for all four sides of the screwdriver. You’re done.

I did this, and it worked great. A couple of further comments – – first, if there is no rubbery coating on your magnet and you don’t want to scratch up the finish on your screwdriver, you could put a single layer of  masking tape or painters tape on the part of the magnet that is scraping along the screwdriver. Second, the hard steel of the screwdriver is not a great permanent magnet. You might need to do this again in a year, and you will never get a really strong magnetic effect (this may be why there were some complaints on Amazon). Also, if you give the screwdriver some sharp taps (or drop it on concrete floor), it can rescramble the magnetic domains and lose  magnetic orientation in the steel, so again you’d have to repeat the treatment.

You can also magnetize a screwdriver by wrapping a coil of insulated wire around it, and hooking the wire up to a battery. Also, you can make the screwdriver magnetic temporarily by sticking a disk magnet on the shaft.

I suppose you could bring your magnet to your friend’s house and process his or her favorite screwdriver next time you go over for some other reason. Or you could make magnetized screwdrivers for gifts.

Some references:

https://www.wikihow.com/Magnetize-a-Screwdriver

https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Magnetize-a-Screwdriver-at-Home/

Bonus hack: How to Sanitize Face Masks

Now we are back to being able to buy KN95 and (even better) KF94 face masks, if a mask gets too breathed in, we can just throw it out and get a new one. But if for some reason (a new pandemic apocalypse like 2020?) you need to disinfect a face mask, there are ways.

Most flu and coronaviruses cannot live indefinitely on a dry surface. So one approach is simply to put each mask in its own dry paper bag (to prevent contact with more virus particles) and leave in a dry, preferably warm place for 3 days.

If you are in a hurry, apparently heating for 60 minutes at  the oven at 70°C (158°F) will also do the trick.

Reference: https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/disinfect-clean-n95-mask-virus-coronavirus/