Powerful Magnetic Pick-up Tools
TOH editors offer a brief history of magnetic pickup tools
I have a magnetic pickup tool that I use to retrieve dropped fasteners and even metal tools. How long have such strong magnets been around?
—Dave Pollack, Brooklyn, NY
Magnetic pickup tools like yours, and the one at left, typically use neodymium magnets, which were first developed in 1982. Neodymium, a type of rare-earth mineral that’s alloyed with iron and boron, makes the strongest permanent magnets out there—up to 15 times more powerful than other magnets of the same size. It will grab on to most any piece of ferrous metal that it comes near. On the other hand, as you’ve probably discovered, brass keys, copper coins, stainless-steel screws, and gold rings are immune to neodymium’s magnetic attraction.