Sunday, December 11, 2016

Magnetic Levitating Dowel

Now that the Magnet Separator  is complete I can make a fun project. 

I have always been fascinated with magnets and wanted to make some kind of magnetic levitator.

I will try make this one as simple as I can. Although I will use many tools you could get by using just a hand saw and drill. 

The levitation station is just a block and  will have the magnets inside. This will make it look more mysterious and interesting. The dowel will have ring magnets on it then the opposing magnetic forces will make it hover in mid air.

Magnets are available at Lee Valley


The Base

The length is 6.5", width  3.75" and the height is 1.3".

The base is made using some oak, I did not have the right size block so I glued two pieces together and cleaned it up to get the size I needed.  A piece of spruce 2x4 from the local hardware store will work as well. It all depends on what kind of wood you like.

The magnets I will be using are one inch diameter so the base should be slightly thicker. You can also mark and drill the magnet holes and then trim the wood down later to the right size if this is easier for you.


After I found the right place for the magnets an awl is used to mark the centres. It is now ready  and  for drilling. This will help keep the drill bit from wandering.

A 1 inch Forstner bit is used to drill the holes. My stop on the drill press is used to make the holes the exact depth. The first set of holes are drilled 1/2" deep.

Note: Later I will drill the second set of holes 1.6" deep.

My vacuum hose holder is used to catch most of the sawdust.

 I found the best way to hold the block secure is to use a handscrew clamp. Even though this clamp is not secured to the table it does work good to keep the piece square while drilling.   

I tested and put some magnets in the holes but I could not take them out without messing up the hole and the magnet, so I drilled some small holes on the bottom. Using an awl or a small nail will help to pry the magnets.   

Being able to remove the magnets is a good idea. If you have to respace them or making sure the polarity of the magnets are correct, this will help keep things easy when building.

After some testing I decided to drill the magnet holes on one end a bit deeper. in the block, I think this will look better for the dowel. I also drilled  some more small holes for the magnet release. The first 2 small holes can be filled and sanded later.


I found a scrap dowel and put on some masking tape and the ring magnets. This way I was able to slide the magnets to see what worked. It did not take long to figure it out.

The dowel and ring magnets are placed against a block of wood and it was levitating. I can now carry on and make a nicer dowel, and make a slot for a plexiglass plate.

A dowel is placed in the drill and a point was made using the upright beltsander


The dowel is now cut to the right length, 6 3/4". Small pencil marks are made on the dowel where the magnets worked best. 


Several saws are tested to match the thickness of the plexiglass. I have a small box with some pieces of scrap plastic and plexiglass. Plexiglass is available at a plastic shop.

 Before the wood can be cut I used an utility knife and scored the wood. This would give me a good mark for the handsaw. 

This should not be done free hand since the saw will wander and you won't get a clean line.

Plexi glass is cut on the band saw the width of the block, the height it 2 1/8".

A mallet was used to tap the plexiglass in the slot. It is friction fit and is very tight in the slot.   




Woodworking does not have to be hard, there are many projects that can be made with few tools.

I hope you find this one easy to make. Give it a try and let me know how it works out.

Making toys is fun and this levitator was pleasure to make, I will make a few and give them away as gifts.


See Also:

         Make a mini bevel gauge                 Magic knife holder                Magnetic scrap bin        



  1. Great Gift Idea! where did you find the magnets with the holes in them?
    how did you determine the flux value to use? any in put on that subject would be great,

    I always enjoy your projets


  2. After Reading your project build I saw you recommended Lee Valley as a supplier
    and Looking at their rare earth Magnets in the 1 inch size
    and seeing you used a 1 inch Forstner (99K32.13
    1" 1/8" $13.80) seems to be the magnets you used.
    For the ring magnets on the dowel rod I am not able to determine which size ring magnet you used the dowel appears to be about 1/4 inch could you let us know what size ring magnet you used? as this is important I would think to get the correct Balance of the Magnet flux to suspend the dowel and the weight of the magnets.

    Again Thank you,


  3. Yes it is 1/4" magnets I used. If you use a dowel you can easily slide the magnets to get the right placement.

  4. Thank You, Jack!

    I am sure others interested in making this project will appreciate the info.
    I now have a solution for a gift for those that have everything.


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