Anywhere there’s been construction, you’re going to find loose nails, bolts, screws, and similar metal fragments. When there’s only a couple of pieces you have to worry about, and you know exactly where they are, you can often get away with sweeping them up like ordinary debris. But if you need to be certain that every bit of loose metal gets cleaned up, the right tool for the job is a magnet.
Magnetic sweepers clean-up an area quicker and more reliably than would otherwise be possible. Only a magnet will pick up metal with such consistency that you can depend on it to clean up parts you didn’t even notice. If the area you’re trying to clear is a tiny six-by-six closet space, then you’re probably not going to need to involve magnetic sweepers. A little elbow grease and attention can clean up smaller spaces. But for combing through an entire house or an elongated driveway, and not miss a single screw, you want a magnetic sweeper.
Of course, you don’t have to be involved in construction to need a magnetic sweeper. Loose screws or nails in your driveway are like a time-bomb, waiting to destroy tires. Anywhere in your home or yard, it’s not hard to see why having pointy metal fragments on the ground isn’t going to end well. And depending on where you’re looking to sweep for metal, magnetic sweepers are available in a variety of builds to that are adaptable to most common applications.
Choosing a Magnetic Sweeper
Unless you’re dealing with an industrial-level cleanup, you’re probably going to want a hand-sized sweeper. But the specific type of hand-sized magnetic sweeper you want to use will depend on the details of the type of cleanup.
Push-type sweepers with a release are good for rapidly collecting screws and similar small items. They’re ideal for assembly workshops, warehouses, and other areas where bits of metal end up on the floor. Push-type magnetic sweepers without a release are similar, but can’t retract their magnetic force to drop debris. Consequently, you’ve got to clean them off with a shop towel between each use.
Pushing a magnetic sweeper is similar to pushing a mop or broom. Anyone who’s done some mopping can tell you that the height of the handle is what ultimately what determines how your lower back feels after you’re done cleaning up. In the case of magnetic sweepers, which can be heavy compared to brooms or mops, it’s especially important to consider handle length.
If the handle has a fixed length, you’ll want to know it’s long enough to be comfortably held by whoever is will be using it. Although they cost more, sweepers with telescoping handles are the smart choice for anyone who plans on using their sweeper for a significant duration of time. They’re not only easier to use, they’re much easier on the body.
Unless you have tremendously specific applications in mind, you don’t need to get bogged down in metrics relating to the magnetic power of any particular sweeper. But you will want to know that the sweeper you’re selecting is powerful enough to pull-up metal from the places you want to sweep. Sweepers that are equipped to handle hardwood floors aren’t necessarily going to be well equipped to pull nails from tall grass.
Additionally, if you’re dealing with any significant amount of metal, then ultimate carrying capacity of the sweeper’s magnet is something you’ll want to think about. For smaller cleanups, a capacity of at least one pound is enough to snatch-up loose debris. But for larger cleanups, at least ten pounds is necessary to help minimize trips to the trash.
If you’re going to be putting in more than a couple hours of use with a magnetic sweeper, then the quality of the build is something to be concerned with. The tread of the wheels may or may not be equipped to handle slick or rugged terrain. The screw threads which attach the handle to the base might be easily worn down. The handle itself might be too heavy, or made of flimsy aluminum that feels like it’s ready to bend in your hand. Finding the right balance of quality materials and quality construction is something that only comes with plenty of hands-on time using magnetic sweepers.
Master Magnetics Magnetic Sweeper
Master Magnetics is a brand specializing in products that require powerful magnets. The design of their sweeper is clearly oriented for someone trying to tidy-up indoor spaces, like a modestly sized workshop. It’s a push-type sweeper, with a broad 15” base that’s excellent for helping sweep large areas in one pass. It has a maximum capacity of about 1.6 pounds of 8 penny nails, or well over 200 individual pieces, making it more than enough for the needs of most people.
Build and Design
This sweeper has a lightweight aluminum body that weighs roughly 3 pounds. The total body extends out to 16.5” with the wheels included, so it can make its way through doorways with no problem. The wheels have a 3” diameter, and made with a firm rubber tread. The rims use a hardened composite plastic with steel bushings which is clearly made to last.
Another thing to notice is the handle, which is a lengthy 41”, and ends with a firm grip. The end of the handle also has a convenient handing hole that you can use for hanging it up. But what makes this sweeper so inexpensive is that it doesn’t include a magnetic release. You’ve got to clean off the attached metal bits with a shop towel or work gloves. If you’re dealing with huge quantities of metal and regularly using your sweeper, that’s a fairly substantial flaw. But if you’re only dealing with low or moderate throughput, having to manually clean off sweeper should only be a minor inconvenience.
Master Magnetics guarantees permanent magnetism. You won’t have to worry about the strength of the magnet wearing down during the lifespan of this sweeper. But there’s one small downside to the build of the device worth noting. The joint where the magnet bar connects to the handle becomes loose easily, and could be prone to breaking under heavy use. For more casual use, that issue shouldn’t become a concern. But a rough-and-tumble individual putting this tool to rugged use will find the handle’s connection inadequate.
Neiko Magnetic Pick-Up Sweeper
Neiko’s sweeper uses a multi-purpose design that’s equipped to take on ferrous metals, screws, and most nails. If you’re thinking about pulling nails out of rugged terrain, Neiko is equipped to pick up objects as heavy as 30 pounds. It doesn’t struggle to tear nails out of grass and gravel. And the extra-large build makes this sweeper optimal for driveways and other exceptionally large spaces. For protecting your tires and feet against jagged metals, Neiko’s sweeper is worth a look.
Build and Design
The base of this sweeper is 24” wide, helping clear large areas efficiently and quickly. It’s also available in a slighter larger 36-inch version. The handle uses a convenient telescoping design that extends from 29” to 42”, to help you avoid straining your back during use. Moreover, Neiko’s sweeper is made for moderately high throughput of metal.
Relative to Master Magnetics, this is a fairly expensive sweeper. Nearly all of that price difference goes back to one feature – a quick release handle. With Neiko’s magnetic sweeper, you just lift the quick release handle at the base of the device, and all the magnetically-attached debris can be dropped into a waiting trashcan. But the power of the magnet means you’ll have to apply a fair amount of force to use the handle, it’s not clear that a teenager would have the strength to operate it.
The exceptionally large 7” diameter wheels are equipped to take on carpeting, grass, concrete, and similar rough terrain. They roll smoothly as the on-board magnet picks up all the nails and bolts in your path. The wheels make use of a rubberized tread grip that’s great for wet surfaces, and can be adjusted with a lock nut, helping to better accommodate the kind of terrain you’re combing through.
But this magnet is extremely strong, you’ll have to be careful with it. This isn’t a magnet you’d want to get around your smartphone, television, or speaker equipment. It’s so powerful that it can actually be a minor struggle to remove debris by hand without using the quick release handle.
Husky Magnetic Sweeper
Husky’s sweeper has roughly the same build as a manual lawnmower. The modestly sized 18” base isn’t ideal for scouring over vast patches of driveway, but it’s well-equipped to handling indoor environments, and smaller patches of outdoor environments. All in all, it’s a strong mix of portability and size.
Build and Design
Like with Neiko, Husky’s magnetic sweeper has a telescoping handle to help accommodate the height of the user. Unlike Neiko, this handle has an adjustability range of between 30” and 40”, which is a slightly smaller range. But unless you’re exceptionally tall, the extra inch of distance should be mostly inconsequential. The body of Husky’s sweeper weighs about 8 pounds, but feels much lighter thanks to the smooth rolling action of the tires.
The tires use an easy-rolling rubber design, specifically crafted to never damage or tarnish floors. More than anything, the build of the tires strongly suggest Husky’s sweeper is made for indoor cleanup, but still capable of being put to the task of outdoor use.
Like with the Neiko sweeper, this magnetic sweeper makes use of a quick-release handle that allows you to rapidly dispose of attached metal debris. Although Husky’s magnet is quite strong, it’s not as strong as the magnet used in Neiko’s product. And for most people, that’s probably a good thing. Unless you’re trying to pull horseshoes out of your yard, you probably don’t need a magnet equipped to take on 30 pound objects. And when it comes time to pull the quick release handle, you’ll be thankful you’re not dealing with a super-powered magnet.
Choosing Between 3 Excellent Magnetic Sweepers
If budget is your primary concern, then you’ll be well served with the Master Magnetics mini sweeper. It doesn’t have a sturdy build that’s going to last forever, and the strength of its magnet is better suited to picking up small nails and screws, not larger chunks of metal. It’s a simple tool for a simple job, with a great price. It’s a good pick for someone who regards their sweeper as someone disposable, as opposed to a long-term investment. If you’re cleaning up your yard, and you don’t expect it to get covered in metal again, it’s a great pick.
But if you’re doing higher throughput of metal, then you’re going to want a telescoping handle with a quick release for debris. Not having a handle that’s adequate for the user’s height is can make sweeping a miserable experience. And having to manually clean a sweeper becomes an issue the moment you’re dealing with more than one or two loads of debris. For those features, you’ll need to turn to Neiko or Husky.
You can find a number of similarities between Neiko’s 24-inch magnetic sweeper, and Husky’s 18-inch magnetic sweeper. Both use a telescoping handle, and both are equipped with quick release handle. But Husky’s large design is oriented towards people who are doing indoor cleanup, or sweeping smaller surface areas. While it’s equipped to be taken outside, it wouldn’t be completely at home taking on those types of larger spaces.
By contrast, Neiko’s giant 24-inch sweeper is better adapted to breezing through large areas, like yards or driveways. You can use this sweeper inside, but it’s bulky 24-inch base isn’t going to provide elegant maneuvering through many indoor spaces. It’s better equipped for people who are trying to clear nails out of driveways. But no matter the application, its powerful magnet is well-suited to metal fragments of considerable size.