Had I never done work with Neodymium magnets, I would never have guessed that I would someday say “I’m afraid of magnets”. There are neodymium magnets out there that are so potentially dangerous that the danger escapes most people until they are missing a finger or a chunk of forearm.

I have a few small neos and a pair of samarium cobalt magnets on my desk, and I play with them from time to time, they’re small and less dangerous. But they still have their moments.

Last week I spent a day working on a machine cutting cast iron and inevitably, gathered handsful of tiny slivers. It’s unavoidable. So tonight when I picked up the magnets to play with them I was presented with the sensation of all those tiny slivers of cast iron standing on their heads to salute the magnetic field of the magnet, with the sharpest of them tickling previously unreachable nerve endings. Yay me.

I sanded the fingertips in question and oiled them (oil makes the filings more likely to come out) and used the magnet to remove them. In the end, it was handy, but the moment when I got whanged by the slivers jumping around in my fingertips was no fun.