Can Magnets Work Through Wood?

A magnetic field is an area around a magnet in which there is a magnetic force. Have you ever wondered how this force works? The force is invisible, and invisible things are often very fascinating to find facts about.

Can magnets work through wood? Yes, magnets and the pulling force work through wood. The electric and magnetic lines can pass through most materials, but it cannot pass through all metal shells and superconductors. So magnetism travels through most materials, but the magnetic field still has some limitations.

This short description does not mean, that you simply can put two magnets, each on both sides of a giant redwood tree, and think the pulling force does not weaken.

In today’s blog post we will take a deeper look at how well neodymium magnets work through wood materials, and how to make your own magnetic knife strip. Furthermore, we will try to make an understanding of how the magnetic field is weakened.

As always we will have the perspective of, how to use magnets in our daily lives. Especially DIY-projects, Do It Yourself, and today is not an exception. You can actually make some cool stuff at home with the knowledge of that magnetism travels through most materials.

So keep reading, if you want to know more life hacks and other ‘nice to know’ facts about magnets.

Can magnets work through wood?

Magnets work through wood and many other materials. As we stated in the beginning, the force is invisible, but maybe you have seen a science teacher in school or elsewhere, who took a magnet and a piece of paper. If you spread iron filings on top of that paper with a magnet beneath it, you can see some of those magnetic field lines.

These magnetic field lines help us predict how things will interact with magnets. I don’t want to be too scientific about the magnetic field lines, but it starts at the north pole and ends at the south pole.

The magnetic fields are uniform and depending on how tightly packed they are, it shows us how strong a certain field or force is. The pulling force is strongest at the two poles of a magnet and thus will the distance weaken the force.

So even though a magnetic field travels through wood, the force will quickly weaken because of the distance. Keep that in mind when you use magnets because sometimes the magnetic field is weakened pretty fast - A direct pull from a pole with tightly packed field lines is the strongest.

The more powerful the magnet is, the stronger the magnetic field is. We have in earlier posts mentioned a much-debated scene in the famous tv-show ‘Breaking Bad’.

They have a super-strong electromagnet in a van and drive it next to the police station. With the magnetic force, they try to destroy evidence through the wall with magnetism.

Ferromagnetism and permeability

We explained a lot about ferromagnetic in earlier posts, but the basic knowledge is, that some materials such as iron can either attract or be attracted to magnets. That is also a short and common definition of magnetics.

Now we also know that the magnetic field travels through materials such as:

  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Aluminum
  • Concrete
  • Water
  • Teflon
  • Copper
  • And in ‘Breaking bad’ even a huge wall

In electromagnetism, permeability is a quantity measuring the influence of a substance on the magnetic flux in the region it occupies. It is also known as the distributed inductance in transmission line theory.

There is a lot of debate about if the scene in ‘Breaking Bad’ is realistic or not, but we can conclude, that magnetism travels through a lot of material, and if you have a strong magnet, you can utilize it for your advantage.

Needless to say, we don’t suggest you to use magnets to destroy evidence at a police station, but simply use it in cleaver MacGyver ways, just for your own use at home or in your workplace. It is always a good idea to start in the kitchen because of the many ferromagnetic elements.

DIY - Magnetic knife strip

If you are just a little bit handy, it is actually very simple. Make your own knife strip with a piece of wood and some power magnets. We have made some videos to demonstrate an example, but we haven't translated all the videos to English yet.

I don’t think that it is a problem because that just leaves more space for you to get creative. One of the reasons why we spent so much time and space to talk about - if magnets can pull through wood is, that we are going to use that knowledge in our advice today.

If you follow the link to YouTube, you can see Mia demonstrate in Danish, how to make a knife holder with wood and magnets: See the clip here

The easiest way to make a knife stuck on your fridge would be, to simply put a magnet on the fridge, and then you knife directly on the magnet. This is a direct pull.

There are other reasons not to do this. Always be careful not to scratch the surface on either the fridge or the knife, and maybe you don’t even want the knife strip on the fridge, but somewhere else. That is up to you.

In the video demonstration, you can see Mia is sort of engraving the magnets into the wood, so the distance from the magnets to the knife is not that far. It is because the pulling force is getting weak pretty fast, especially when it is not a direct pull on the material, and the wide surface on the wood also has an influence.

We are always happy to help advise you about, which magnets you need to use, and give you more advice about direct and indirect pull, glue and so on. So if you have any comments or questions, just follow this link to find our contact information.

Which magnets should I use?

First of all, we always recommend to use neodymium magnets, also called power magnets. These are the strongest permanent magnets on the market, and it will make sure, that your objects don’t slide or fall down.

For small knives, we suggest using 20x5 mm power magnets or 20x20x5mm if they need to be shaped like a square.

For huge and heavy knives, we suggest 20x10 mm, 25x7 mm or 35x5 all of them; of course power magnets. Choose magnets that fit your dimensions on your knife strip. They all have strength on approximately 12 kgs.

Be creative, be careful

The design is all up to you. We just try to inspire, but there are many cool life hacks you can do with magnets, especially in the kitchen. Be creative and make your own unique knife strip to your kitchen instead of using a lot of money on a standard in a store.

-We appreciate a creative DIY-project, so always feel free to share it with us.

Yeah, you can use magnets for many cool and fun stuff, but remember to handle them with care. Power magnets are not toys, and you should always read our safety tips here, before buying any neodymium magnets.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post and got inspired to start on a; Do-It-Yourself-Project. Remember, that you are always welcome to contact us with any questions you might have, and also share your DIY-magnet project with us on Facebook.

Thank you for reading.