When you work in metal, one of your biggest problems is metal shavings. And I don’t mean that they’re annoying to clean, although they are. I mean that they’re a serious health hazard. If you inhale metal shavings, they can cause internal bleeding and a whole host of terrifying reactions. And working with metals such as aluminum can leave behind insanely dangerous byproducts like aluminum powder, which is highly, highly explosive.

So you’ve got to clean that up, but traditional cleaning products are probably not going to cut it. So, one Russian metalworking shop came up with a novel, and neat-looking, solution: A neodymium magnet.

Screenshot from 2013-08-05 10:03:01

Neodymium magnets are powerful, permanent magnets that are used pretty much everywhere. Your earbuds have neodymium magnets in them, as do most generators. Essentially anywhere you need something tiny that gives off a powerful electromagnetic field, you need a neodymium magnet.

And, as you can see, they also make a killer DIY shop vac. Literally, all of what you see in the video above is done with a plastic bucket and a neodymium magnet. The plastic keeps the shavings from sticking to the magnet directly. The field is so strong, though, that the plastic might as well not be there, and as they “sweep” the floor, the magnetized shavings pick up more, expanding your surface area. Once you’re done, put the bucket over a trash receptacle and yank the magnet. Not even a Swiffer is that easy.


True, not everybody is doing metal work that requires this particular shop-cleaning tip, but it’s a neat and useful idea for anybody who might be, and also if you’ve got metal or other crud in your carpet. Just keep it away from your game consoles and TV and you’ll probably be OK. Unless you really, really want a clean hard drive.

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.