Harddrives are the Gift that Keep on Giving!

I know many of you might already know this, and others might have heard this piece of advice but never acted on it. Harddrives, specifically the magnets in harddrives, come with a piece of metal that shields them meaning they can be used easily in a laser.

  • That issue with magnets slowing down the fan? It doesn’t happen if your magnets are sheilded.
  • Issue with your hold down getting cut? Not an issue with a chunk of metal.

SO you’re thinking, “I don’t have a bunch of dead harddrives.” well, you know who does? Computer techs on Craigslist and eBay, old PCs at yard sales and resale shops, your techie friend who never throws away anything :slight_smile:
Don’t spend more than about $1/drive though, some people think old drives are worth something…and they’re not.

3.5" HDDs give you perfect magnets for 1/4" and 1/8" material.
2.5" HDDs give you perfect magnets for 1/8" and things like paper or foam.

You will need a torx (star shapes) screwdriver set with sizes ranging from 4 to 8 - they sell those on Amazon for like $10, and if you have a computer or other fiddly technology you may already have one :slight_smile:

Anyway, just wanted to reiterate that shielded magnets are totes worth it, and not all that hard to get :slight_smile:

but wait! There’s more! You also get a bunch of random “this could be used in a project” stuff!

and if you’re not the type to keep random bits, your local metal recycler will love you.

Every drive (even within the same manufacturer) is made slightly differently. In some, getting bits out is very easy, others are more complicated, but the bits are there :slight_smile: The biggest gotcha is frequently that screws are hidden under metal looking round stickers. If it doesn’t pop apart with a slight amount of pressure you’ve likely missed a screw. Look for stickers you can pull off.


This is right on. It amused me, too…since I did exactly this with my old hard drive right after I got my GF. After I got the magnets, I made a mobile out of a bunch of the other metal stuff inside. :smile:


I’m trying to decide between yard mobile or hallway mirror…we’ll see what wins :slight_smile:


big fan of those.

personally, i don’t think the 2.5" magnets are good enough for 1/8, but great for paper or other thin materials.

and if you aren’t the kind of person who would dissemble a hard drive, you can find other people selling them already removed on ebay and etsy.


I don’t put them on top of the 1/8, but off the side using the edge of the metal to hold down the material - like that it works great since the magnet has unfettered access to the crumb tray :slight_smile:


doesn’t seem to be that effective for me, even just an edge. but maybe my 2.5" magnets aren’t as strong as yours.


Ah! Of course - both of these came from a 2.5" drive…as you can imagine the bottom one is significantly heartier.


yeah, mine are more like the top one.


Good tip! I have been using HDD magnets similarly. It seemed like I never had enough. So, early last year, I took apart a couple dozen as part of a program to make sure the data on them was irretrievable. I shot video of disassembling several different models with the intent of making a short how-to video about harvesting the magnets but, haven’t gotten around to putting it together yet.

I like to wrap the magnets and their shields in gaffer tape, leaving a little flag to grip to help get them loose from each other and the tray. Since the magnets are generally ceramic, the tape also helps keep them from shattering or, at least, becoming an awful, uncontained, hazardous mess of razor-sharp shards if they happen to hit something too hard.

A few months ago, I cut a piece of scrap ductwork to make a little bracket to hold them next to my Glowforge.


So what I hear you all saying is, that this is a great way to punish my harddrive that recently failed, losing all my laser files :joy:


You might want to move this to tips and tricks.


Oh! so sorry; I feel for you. :no_mouth:


Yes! I haven’t gotten to that with this bunch, but the first time you can’t pull it off the crumb tray you’ll remember the gaff tape!

Ooh! I like this idea! I even have some stuff sitting down in the basement being useless.

100% yes! Teach the others to sit up straight and fly right!!


This is exactly what I use all the time. Got them off eBay!




Good tip! The strongest magnet in the house is from a TB HDD, it will suck itself down through 1/8 material.


I just ran into the fan slowing down notice myself just the other day. I was using magnets to hold down Thick Maple ply. I’ll look into getting some old drives/magnets - Thanks for sharing!!!


you could even just put a small metal plate on the back of your magnets. that’s what makes the HDD magnets so nice, they already have the metal plate on the back that dissipates the magnetism on that side.


In the meantime, you can use magnets you have along the very front edge (towards the door), or the sides where the fan won’t go over them to slow down. For the middle, or if you’ve gotten small pieces you’re working with then the honeycomb holdown pins are a total win :slight_smile:


Or have a “take apart party”! Supply some inexpensive tools (especially the ones to take apart the hard drives with heh heh) and invite a bunch of 8-10 year olds! Put dibs on the magnets but tell them they can have everything else…make sure you throw in some keyboards so kids can take the keys off and spell their names with it…all the moms will just love their child’s “goody bag” from the party!

Yes, I was able to throw one of these for each of my 3 sons…no overlapping siblings so all parents were unsuspecting. heh heh heh All those tech items were easy to find for free…just get the word out with your friends and you will be amazed what shows up on your doorstep! ahh sweet memories…and the kids as they left all said “this was the BEST party EV-ER!!!”