Date Uploaded: October 21, 2010, 1:44 pm
Last Edited: December 11, 2012, 1:02 am
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Article © MAIL User: Workshop Warlock
I recently asked on the forum if people found magnetic pliers to be helpful - the response was an overwhelming "NO!". So I decided to write a quick article on how to demagnetize pliers.
The way I do it is to take a small magnet - I think I got this one at Radio Shack, it's about 1" x 3/4" x 1/8" thick with a hole in the middle - and rub it along each jaw of the pliers, from the tip toward the joint, lifting the magnet away from the pliers on the return stroke. After a dozen strokes or so, I test each jaw of the pliers by trying to pick up a small ring - if I can, I make another dozen strokes. It only takes a minute or two to demagnetize my pliers.
A far faster way to demagnetize pliers is to use a soldering gun - the kind with a trigger. Supposedly, replacing the soldering tip with a loop, and passing the pliers through the loop, will demagnetize them. I couldn't get it to work. What DOES work is to replace the soldering tip with the pliers. Remove the soldering tip and place the tip of one jaw in each socket, and pull the trigger for a second. The voltage supplied to the soldering tip is very low, and electrically isolated from the main supply voltage by the transformer, so there's no danger of electrocution. I can't guarantee that this is true for all soldering guns, so you might want to connect a voltmeter to your soldering gun first - if the voltage is only a volt or two, you should be fine.
Heating pliers above a certain critical temperature - which I don't know - will also demagnetize them. It will also melt the plastic handles, tarnish them, and ruin the temper.
An allmighty whack against a hard surface or by a hammer can sometimes scramble the magnetic domains, effectively demagnetizing the pliers. I've never managed to get this to work when I wanted it to, though it seems to work quite well when I don't. Murphy's Law of Pliers-Demagnetization...
If the mood should strike you, you can remagnetize your pliers by stroking each jaw from the joint toward the tip, again lifting the magnet away from the pliers on the return stroke. I recommend magnetizing one jaw of the pliers using the north side of the magnet, and the other jaw using the south side - this tends to cause rings to be attracted to both jaws, pulling it between them, instead of being attracted by one jaw and repelled by the other, flipping the ring to the outside of the jaws and driving you nuts.
You can also magnetize a pair of pliers simply by sticking a small magnet to it. The effect is temporary, only as long as the magnet is in place, and there is often a small residual effect as well.
Other tools can be usefully magnetized as well: for example, magnetizing the tip of a mandrel will let it be used to pick up links that are just out of reach, mess up floppy disks, and fargle the image on the TV screen. (can cause permanent damage -- Ed.)
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