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We all remember the original magnetic pick-up tool, a rod with a telescoping shaft and a magnet at the end of it.  When it first got popular, Bush Sr. was in the White House, EuroDisney had opened to abysmal reviews, and the X-Files was taking off as the show to watch — life was simpler then.

Next thing you know, we’re adding hinges and clips and magnetic pads and LED lights and everything else under the sun to improve this basic and essential tool.  Now a simple search on Amazon reveals 52 different results for magnetic pick-up tools.

So which kind do you favor around the shop?  Are you the “old-fashioned and stripped-down” type, or are you the “all the bells and whistles I can get my hands on” type?  Let us know in comments.

Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


11 Responses to The Evolution Of The Magnetic Pick-Up Tool

  1. jeffrey immer says:

    i kind of prefer the tool i refer to as “oops i dropped that important drill bit in a wall cavity grabby thing” long name i know but it’s usually used frequently with expletives, but i like the little spring loaded grabber with a little magnet it’s done more than it’s far share of work, only if i could find the moment i needed it.

  2. BigEdJr says:

    I want one with a laser…then it would be perfect!

    (yes I am just kidding)

  3. fred says:

    It is sometimes nice to have one with a shielded magnet – so the business end of the tool doesnt catch on every piece of steel along the path to the nut or screw you wish to grab.

    Here is one variant:


    What I’d like to see is one like a Mag-Switch.

  4. Dr Bob says:

    I just have an el cheapo telescoping one that is part of a multibit lighted screwdriver. Good enough for what I need it for – picking out a nut or bolt or socket I dropped underhood which fell someplace I can’t even see, much less reach.

    This is one of those things I use often enough that I should probably buy a good one.

  5. Jupe Blue says:

    I have the basic telescoping one. Works great to pick up dropped items without bending over. Have had ever since I was an apprentice and my journeyman said to me “You know, you only get some many bend overs in life. Better save some for when you’re old.”

  6. rob says:

    I have a flexible one with a led in the head works great I have used it to pluck things that have fallen into carbs and even through a spark plug hole
    don’t ask it wasn’t my brightest moment
    along with all the nooks and crannies you find on most cars that seem to eat sockets and dropped tools

  7. PutnamEco says:

    I have a few, My most commonly used one is old school style, looks like a pen. That and I often use a Cresent ratchet screwdriver with a telescopic magnet built in.


  8. David Bryan says:

    Magnetic pick-up tools are sure a lot older than that. Like centuries. I’ve got hundred-year-old electrical books that talk about making electromagnets for that.
    The ones I like to make, I take some strong magnets, cut a piece of brass tubing they’ll slip into, epoxy them in, flatten one end, drill a hole through that end to make an eye and put ’em on a short piece of chain for fishing in walls or tying to a string to pick stuff up from any distance. Or I take one of the cheap ones, which tend to come apart on you, and cut the magnet and a little bit of the tubing off and solder it onto a piece of 14, 12, or 10 gauge insulated wire, which makes a nice flexible magnet you can roll up to hang on your tool pouch or whatever. I usually put an alligator clip on the other end for lighting pilots and things like that.
    I like to use two of the cheap telescoping magnets together for extra lifting power and to use them to hook together on things that aren’t magnetic. I’m not much good at bending, so sometimes I’ll throw something magnetic on the ground and sandwich what I’m picking up between that and my magnet to pick it up.
    Haven’t tried making any of the electromagnets yet, but some of them look interesting.

  9. John says:

    I was going to say they’re a lot older than the ’80s (though my example isn’t quite as old as David Bryan’s). My dad had one in the ’70s. It was a foot-long coil spring with a small plastic cone at each end. One end was the handle and the other end had a small disc magnet on the end of the cone.

    That’s the only tool I know of that he has ever owned that he bought for exactly one use: Retrieving the drain plug from the pan of oil. Being kids, we found MANY more uses for it!

    I actually keep three in my toolbox — a plain telescoper, a telescoper with a jointed head, and a telescoper with that shieldy thing. Yes, I tend to drop things a lot.

  10. russ says:

    When I was younger, before Bush Sr. was head of the CIA 🙂
    , my grandfather had one. It was an antennae from a walkie-talkie with a magnet at the end. If you look at most of them that is what they are, without the transceiver of course. They are great for finding things where you know where it is or doing a sweep. That is what I use them for alot when you drop a screw and nobody can find it – you end up looking in the next room for it because you checked the room where you dropped it ten times.

  11. Mr P says:

    BigEdJr Says:

    June 10th, 2009 at 3:39 pm
    I want one with a laser…then it would be perfect!

    (yes I am just kidding)
    Re: Harbor Freight has one with a led and “freaking lasers”

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