I'm trying to design a freely spinning wheel that will "lock" into a few different configurations. I'm planning on placing a rare earth magnet near a certain point on the wheel, and inserting bits of ferrous metal into the wheel so it will stop at those locations.

Two questions:

1) Any thoughts on the general viability of this design, and

2) How can I find ferrous metal bits? I tried searching on hardware sites for pins and small dowels, but they're usually of a fairly nonmagnetic steel alloy. Are there any specific search terms I could use, or types of items that are highly magnetic that I could repurpose?

  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like a roulette wheel... :) $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ Basically. I'm trying to decide if I want magnetic action or some kind of pawl system that engages to stop a freely spinning wheel. $\endgroup$
    – Slothario
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


Many ordinary bolts and nuts are of magnetic steel, rather than stainless. If you have no complications with the threaded portions, you can cut away the heads to have your pins/dowels.

If you require smooth shaft type pins, there are longer bolts with only the end portion threaded, leaving the longer shank smooth. Off with the heads and you're set.

Alternatively, use smaller bolts and size your magnetic part based on the head of the bolt. Even conventional wood screws are magnetic, if you don't buy brass or stainless steel.

Visit your local hardware store with a magnet and you'll attract plenty of bolts/screws/nuts and some of the latter might not be of the hardware variety!


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.