Fun with Fridge Magnets

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Have a micro-blast turning precious scrap into useful hangers-on 

It’s the rare woodworking endeavor that’s low-cost, no-risk, and that offers the reward of honing your skills while producing nice-looking, useful items. Making refrigerator magnets checks all those boxes. It doesn’t involve any special commercial equipment—just regular turning tools, a 4-jaw chuck, and a lathe-mounted drill chuck. As for materials, this is the perfect opportunity to use those scraps of precious wood that you can’t bring yourself to throw away. There’s no real risk involved because even 

if you ruin a piece, it’s just a tiny bit of wood. This dispensability gives you the freedom to practice cutting coves, beads, fair curves, and other basic shapes. All in all, it’s great fun that yields li’l surprises you can stick on friends’ fridges when they’re not looking. 

The system I’ve developed here focuses on creativity and efficiency using commonly available 3/4" stock and 3/8"-diameter rare-earth magnets. The finished pieces are small enough that they don’t obscure photos, yet strong enough to hold postcards and multiple pieces of paper. The key to quick production is a simple shop-made screw chuck and double-faced tape, which together securely hold a small blank for shaping, sanding, and finishing a piece, typically in 20 minutes or so. So if you’re looking for some productive fun and perhaps a safe way to teach a youngster at the lathe, take a turn for the refrigerator!

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