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Thread: Rare earth magnets as cabinet latches

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Farmington, AR
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    Rare earth magnets as cabinet latches

    I plan to use rare earth magnets as latches on a couple of tall, narrow cabinet doors. The cabinet has a center verticle piece that acts as a stop. The plan is to install two per door maybe 1/4 of the door height from top and bottom. The magnets I have are 1/2" and holding one on either side of two 1/8" strips there seems to be plenty of holding power. I planned to inlet them about 1/8" into the door and the stop and cover them with plugs.

    Does this sound feasible? Should I use 3 instead of 2? The middle one could always be added later if there is not enough strength. Will these magnets retain their strength for a long time? They would be kind of a pain to remove if installed in this fashion. I thought of using the cups but don't really want them to show.

    David

  2. #2
    Sounds like a great idea to me David. I would think that 2 magnets per door would be adequate................like you said, you can always add the third if needed. I also like the idea of recessing the magnets and covering them with a thin plug to hide them from view. This may be a requirement, unless you want to have to open the cabinet door with a pry bar! I have a few Rare Earth Magnets, and they are strong..........even the little guys have unreal holding power. In my experience, they hold their strength for a long time. Were you planning on using Magnets on both the door and stop? If so, you may want to save on the Magnets and use them only on the door or stop, and use a piece of metal for the mating surface, perhaps a washer would fill the bill? A Magnet on Magnet situation would be a lot stronger than using a Magnet on Metal setup, which may be just right for holding power......just a thought. Whatever you decide, let us know how it works out.................still a great idea you have there!

  3. #3
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    David, sounds like a great plan. I've used them before for lots of applications. Matter of fact, here's a few pictures of an application that won an award! It's a Pinewood Derby car that I made for the "Dad's" class at Scouts several years ago. It pivoted open and had a battery pack to turn on the LED headlights & taillights. With the car in the "open" position, you can see the small earth magnets on the far left side on the frame and at the top right under the chassis. (That big metal thing in the middle is a hunk of lead for weight). Todd.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
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    Kevin, I tried a washer to do away with the polarity. Don't ask why I saw a need for this. Unless the plug is very thin the magnets don't have quite enough power in the small size. My stop limits the size to the 1/2". Hence the two magnet setup. What I don't like about the whole deal is it is kind of a "one shot" deal. I know... practice on scrap. I guess I had better do that before the epoxy comes out. The power increases with more magnets, so I may play with that too. The attraction dies pretty fast with the distance separated.

    Todd, cool car! Terry was into those things a few years ago and has some beauties "lying around". They look like fun.

    David

  5. #5
    I agree with Kevin, magnets on top and botton should do the trick. Make sure the magnets are recessed a little so they can't touch each other, the thin chrome coating chips off pretty easily.

    Todd, That's pretty cool. A little obsessive but cool.
    Jim

  6. #6
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    Leesville, TX (San Antonio/Austin)
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    I use a grommet (?) washer and screw on one side. I have no idea what the proper name for the washer is, but itt looks kinda like an eyelet on a show...raised up on the outside so the screw is kinda recessed. Works great for me.

    Be careful to install your magnets so they stick and not repel each other. Don't ask me how many times I've learned this the hard way. In fact, that was the primary reason I went to the washer and screw...

    KC

  7. #7

    Lightbulb Now this is

    an application I hadn't thought of. I use them all over the sop to hold tools in place for convenient access. Here is a couple shots of my over head air cleaner as a "tool holder" sans magnets.

    So much for the pictures. The system wouldn't allow the addition.

    Any way, the air cleaner is above my table saw so I have the wrenches, fox tail, remote switch for the air cleaner and dust collector within easy reach.

    Knowing how strong these thing are, I would probably try using only one.
    If sawdust were gold, I'd be rich!

    Byron Trantham
    Fredericksburg, VA
    WUD WKR1

  8. #8

    Name of that grommetty thing

    Kirk wrote:

    "I have no idea what the proper name for the washer is, but itt looks kinda like an eyelet on a show...raised up on the outside so the screw is kinda recessed..."

    Finishing washer?

  9. #9
    David,

    I used 1/2" rare earth magnets as catches on some pretty large doors. I got all of the components them from Lee Valley.

    The magnets were set into cups that were recessed into the doors and in the cabinet I recessed striker washers that were about 1/8" thick. Both the cups and the washers have a center hole that is counter sunk to allow them to be screwed to the wood member.

    The cups for the magnets and the washers give the magnets more strength than they would have without. I used two magnets per door and it is definitely adequate holding power. The washers are covered with a circular black pad that Lee Valley also sells to eliminate chipping and to deaden the sound a little when the doors close. I also filed a small relief in the side of the cups so that if I ever have to remove the magnets, I can do so by prying it out with a jewelers screw driver.

    -- Mark
    Last edited by Ken Salisbury; 08-11-2003 at 8:44 AM. Reason: spelling corrections

  10. #10
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    I've still got to play with the plugs, but drilling a hole and leaving 1/8" of wood on two pieces, it takes 4 or the 1/2" x 1/8" magnets in each piece to have substantial pull. I didn't have enough for that so I bought some thicker and slightly smaller ones at Woodcraft today. I think that 3 per side will do it. There is experimenting to be done yet.

    David

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