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Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System

May 05, 2015



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Airfield Models (http://www.airfieldmodels.com/)Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System

Building with magnets is a topic that comes up fairly frequently at various forums, such as RC Groups and RC Universe.

Jeff Cottrell posted a few photos of his system in one of those threads.  I asked if he would allow me to post those photos here.  He agreed and sent some additional photos.

I don't know Jeff personally, but it is clear he knows what he's doing.  My understanding is that he builds mostly large-scale models.

Be sure to take a look at his table.  This is the kind of thing I would like to have but I don't know how to weld and I would guess it would be fairly costly to have someone else do it for me.  Eventually, I will look into it.

This is what Jeff told me about his system:

 
 

Text and photos are copyright Jeff Cottrell

"Basically I am just using round pot magnets with a #10 bolt and wing nut through them.  The wing nut is used to "draw" the wooden stick toward the table creating a clamping force."

"The big ones claim to have 35# pulling force.  I can pull them up off the table without the use of any tools, but it is really tough.  I use a pry bar to control it otherwise it is a jerky motion that would destroy parts if I hit them."

"The table is also a key component.  All magnets create a magnetic field which extends past the surface of the magnet.  The stronger the magnet, the further away this field projects."

"This is the reason why the thickness of the steel plate that is used in conjunction with the magnets is so important.  The table that I have fabricated is 2 ft x 8 ft and has a 1/4" thick plate for the top."

 
 
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System An impressive collection of magnets.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System This table looks very heavy and solid - two very important qualities for any workbench.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System Jeff did not mention what this is, but it looks like an adjustable leg assembly that allows the table to be flattened and leveled.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System Note the use of pads between the clamp and the work to help prevent marring the work.  Clamp pads are almost always a good idea.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System Nice and flat.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System Jeff uses commercially available triangles with his system.  Instead of bolting magnets directly to the triangles, he uses a clamp system that uses a powerful magnet to hold it all down.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System I hope this water is to help remove the warp from the plywood piece on the table because "real" builders drink Mountain Dew.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System Getting the part flat on the table is always a good start.  Additionally, the magnets will keep the part from shifting around while other parts are being fit.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System Formers being added to the crutch shown above.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System This is an interesting photo.  Small bar clamps are attached to the triangles to keep the stick on the left from sliding upward.

Threaded rod and a wing nut are used to hold the former against the triangles.

Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System Looks like fuselage sides being aligned over the plan.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System Jeff uses magnets in an entirely different way than I do to build wings.
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System  
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System  
Jeff Cottrell's Magnetic Building System  
 
 

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Mark McCormack's Converted Magnetic Fixtures
About magnetic steel building boards

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Copyright 2004 Paul K. Johnson