Magnetic finger helps the lost get found

Web Posted: 10/29/2007 09:52 PM CDT

Adolfo Pesquera
Express-News Business Writer


For generations, mechanics have fumbled around blindly in hard-to-reach places, groping for dropped screws, nuts, bolts and washers.

Casper Terpinski, a stockbroker and hot rod enthusiast, was one of them.

But Terpinski created a solution — basically, a magnetized finger cover — that has become popular with grease monkeys and do-it-yourselfers.

"It took me about a year and a half to get it ready," Terpinski said of his invention, the TurnPro Magnetic Finger.

His first prototype was just a snipped finger from a glove with a magnet glued to the tip. The mass-market version is only slightly more sophisticated.

The simple "sticky finger" has drawn national attention. Sam Memmolo, a celebrity mechanic from Atlanta who hosts "Two Guys Garage" on the Speed Channel and his own radio show in 30 markets, has raved about the device.

Like most mechanics, Memmolo said he used sticky adhesive strips or tape to retrieve dropped parts. When the Magnetic Finger came along, Memmolo marveled at its simplicity.

"I could have invented this," Memmolo said.

Memmolo introduced the device to NASCAR race car driver Rusty Wallace, and it has since become a familiar item in high-performance car garages where mechanics have the habit of slapping them on the outside of their toolboxes.

Terpinski, 48, lives in Alamo Heights with his wife, Anna. They have no staff and run their Magnetic Finger business out of their home. Sales have totaled about 65,000 fingers, which retailed at $10 to $11 each since Terpinski got his first order in December 2004.

"I could live off this now, but I don't want to," Terpinski said. "I've never drawn a paycheck out of the company. I've always reinvested it."

Terpinski rolls the profits back in to expand volume, proceed with the patent process and diversify the product line, he said. There is now a hand glove available, and he sells a version with a tether that holds the finger glove to a wrist strap.

Pratt & Whitney, an aircraft engine manufacturer, adopted the magnetic finger in its shops, Terpinski said, but they requested a tether to make sure the finger glove did not slip off and get lost in an engine.

Trying to keep the price of his products down, Terpinski has them manufactured in Pakistan, although he first explored having them made in the United States.

Terpinski has had little success getting the product into retail stores. He relies almost entirely on sales through specialty catalogs. Those sales show steady growth.

"It's not a seasonal product, but the big orders are around Christmastime," Terpinski said. "What's happened is it's become a popular stocking stuffer for dads."

Warren Tracy, owner of the Busted Knuckle Garage, a tool catalog business based in Prescott, Ariz., became friends with Terpinski after a customer walked into his retail store in Prescott with one of the finger gloves.

"He said, 'Wow, this is a fabulous product. I think it would go great in your catalog, especially since you could put your logo right on the knuckle,'" Tracy recalled. "We did, and it's gone extremely well for us."

The Busted Knuckle Garage catalog is available at all 3,400 Advance Auto Parts stores.

Tracy, who once owned a bicycle shop in Alamo Heights, has also gotten the item into the largest tool catalog publications in the industry, including Mac Tools and Summit Racing.

Terpinski, who is entering his fourth year of marketing the product, says he is certain he's close to breaking into hardware store chains.

Orders from catalogs this holiday season have increased dramatically, and he's been surprised to find the product mentioned in places he didn't expect.

"I'm getting in all these magazines now," Terpinski said. "They're reviewing it on their own. I don't even know I'm in them until somebody mentions it to me."





Former Shinerite, inventor  has magnetic power at his finger tip

A Gazette Xtra

by: Myra Lampley

What began years ago as a hobby of tinkering with cars and trucks as a high school boy, has turned into an innovative tool for the automotive industry thanks to inventor Casper Terpinski.

Terpinski, a 1978 gradu­ate of St. Paul High School restores Corvettes as a hob­by. A hobby, he says began when he was in high school. “I hung around Pat Vincik, Douglas Condel, and Jona­than Petru, who were into cars and I learned from them,” he said.

It was while he was working on his 1965 Cor­vette Roadster that Terpin­ski found himself in need of an extra hand.

“It was July of 2003, I had been working under the dash of my Corvette and had been dropping some nuts and screws. Un­der that dash, while lying on my back, I was working more by feel rather than sight. I got that job done but the next weekend I re­moved the Corvette oil pan and had time while I was doing that to formulate the invention in my head. After that I made a few working prototypes and took it from there,” Terpinski said.

It would take him ap­proximately a year and a half to perfect the TurnPro Magnetic Finger. Since then, the invention has just “taken off.”

The magnetic finger is actually a snug, stretchy glove that comes with a powerful magnet under the surface of the fingertip.

A stockbroker since 1985, Terpinski said he has been thinking of quitting and just concentrating on the production and market­ing of the magnetic finger.

The invention has been accepted in the automotive industry. “It has been bet­ter than I could have imag­ined. Sam Memmolo of TV’s Two Guy’s Garage liked it enough to become my spokesperson. This month it is being showcased at SEMA (a very big aftermar­ket auto show and parts show in Vegas) in the new products division. We have even been approached to do a TV commercial so yes it is going well,” he added.

Terpinski added that the product is also popular with carpenters and do-it-yourselfers. He noted that he has also had women that sew buy it also. “It works great for holding pins and the like. It’s basically a very handy tool for just about anybody. Everybody has struggled with holding or trying not to drop a ferrous metal nut or screw. Makes the most useful refrigera­tor magnet you’ll ever have also,” he laughed. “It also works well getting lost pins and needles out of car­pets.”

The Turn­Pro Magnetic Finger went into produc­tion in De­cember of 2004. Terpens­ki said it took some time, to get the product into garag­es and catalogs. “Once we were able to get into some of the higher end catalogs things took off.”

Casper Terpinski’s mom, Ruth, still lives in Shiner.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

July 4, 2007

Magic finger: Finding lost nuts, bolts is a snap

TurnPro slip with magnet at tip lets users pick up runaway ferrous metal, including pins and needles.

Larry Edsall / Special to The Detroit News

Don't you hate it when you're working on your car, where your work is more by feel than by sight, and you drop a nut or a bolt and have to figure a way to fish it out?

Casper Terpinski of San Antonio felt the same frustration, so he went to work and created the TurnPro Magnetic Finger. The finger has a magnet built into its tip. You stretch it over your finger, reach down and pick up the lost nut, bolt or other item made of ferrous metal.

Not just for gearheads

Terpinski designed the magnetic finger for people working on cars, but said many of the 55,000 that have been sold in the last year have been purchased by women who sew or whose activities or hobbies have them picking up pins and needles and such.

"It's transcended the garage," said a happily surprised Terpinski.

Terpinski was restoring a 1965 Corvette and was frustrated by the time and difficulty it was taking to retrieve screws, nuts, washers and such. A stockbroker by day, he's been a backyard mechanic much of his life, building hot rods in high school and later tinkering with motorcycles and inventing a way to use magnets to hold a washer in place.

With his working knowledge of magnets, he spent a year and a half perfecting his idea for the magnetic finger. He was referred to a glove designer who works with a glove manufacturer in Pakistan, where much of the world's glove supply is produced.

Magnetic gloves, too

Now, the TurnPro Magnetic Finger is available for $10.95 in two sizes. An industrial version sells for $12.95, and there are two complete and fully fingered gloves to protect your hand from dirt, cuts and heat, one priced at $19.95 and the other at $29.95.

For information, call (866) 774-0055 or visit the www.magneticfinger.com, where the fingers and gloves can be purchased.

By the way, Terpinski said his work on the Corvette is finished and that sales of the magnetic finger paid for the car's restoration.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.


Herrington Catalog and the Magic Finger.
Wed Aug 31, 2005

Snug and stretchy, Magic Finger conceals a powerfull little disc magnet in the tip. Use it to hold nuts and screws, or to retrieve something you might have dropped into a tiny space. So handy, you and your spouse will use it around the house weekly!

Griot's Garage talks about the Magnetic Finger

August 18, 2005

From the website:

Put a Magnet on Your Fingertip

Before I start in on how great this Magnetic Finger Glove is, let me start off by saying this isn't to be used up your nose....

Slide the snug finger glove on and use it to start a fastener in an unreachable place.

Drop a fastener down in an area where you can only get your finger in?

Retrieve it easily with this!

One incredible, indispensable tool that deserves to be placed in the top drawer of your tool box.

If you don't use this thing at least a few times a month send it back and I'll refund your money.

I wonder if you could use it as a kind of low–tech metal detector on the beach, instead of one of those machines you see people waving around looking for buried doubloons.

Probably not: magnets aren't much good unless there's iron in the metal, so you'd probably miss most of the Greek bronzes and suchlike.

Ah, well.

Speed TV's Two Guys Garage and Atlanta's WGST 640 Am "The Car Show"

Below is what Sam Memmolo from Speed TV's Two Guys Garage and Atlanta's WGST 640 Am "The Car Show" has to say.

Magnetic Finger / Turn-Pro

Here’s a neat item for anyone who works on cars, trucks, airplanes, boats, Street Rods, or any other application where small ferrous metal parts are a problem to hold in place or position.

I used my Magnetic Finger at least 10 times the first week. When it comes to working behind a dash board or instrument panel, there is nothing like it!

I bought several of these Magnetic Fingers, and you could not believe the looks on people’s faces when I handed them their own Magnetic Finger.

What a great gift for any occasion! With Christmas rapidly approaching, here’s an idea for the technician or mechanic in your life. Even those folks who work with arts & crafts.

If you are a seamstress or sew at all, these fingers work incredibly well. They're even better than a thimble for pushing the needle through fabric.

Drop a common pin or needle? No Problem! Just put your magnetic finger on, and reach down to retrieve it. Works great for finding those needles and even eyeglass screws in carpet!

I will never install a radio or work on a set of gauges again without first putting on my trusty magnetic finger. It’s well made, and fits like a glove.

Watch for Dave and I to come up with all kinds of useful ideas for the Magnetic Finger.


Mickey Lauria president and founder of Total Performance and member of the Hot Rod Hall of Fame

What a neat tool. I give the samples to my tech's, They looked at me as if to say "What the @#$%^&*" They each took one and inserted it to their finger. Two inserted their index and the other his social finger. Each of them went from tool box to hardware to misc. areas of the benches and tried to pickup anything they could. Each of them attached the FINGER to the outside of their tool boxes and went back to work. This morning I asked them if they used their NEW FINGER and each of them had tested it during the day. It is now a permanent part of their tools.
Thanks so much for this great new product.


Cool Tools From STAFDA: The most innovative new products at the tool dealers' trade show

by Patrick McCombe

 With the National Hardware Show's gradual transition from pro-duty power and hand tools to DIY and consumer goods, the Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association's annual convention and trade show has emerged as the best place to see new tools designed for pro users. The 2006 show was held in November at the Las Vegas Convention Center and featured hundreds of exhibitors.

On the following pages you'll find a collection of some of the most innovative tools introduced at this year's show. If you decide to give any of them a try, let us know what you think.

The Finger

You may not use the Turn Pro Magnetic Finger very often on the job site, but if you do any mechanical or automotive work at all, this doohickey could be very useful on those occasions when you don't have enough room to hold a nut or start a fastener. It also looks handy for retrieving parts from otherwise inaccessible locations. The magnet is powerful for its size, and the "glove" is stretchy and comfortable. It costs about $10. TurnPro, 866/774-0055, www.magneticfinger.com

Design Classics: Magnetic Finger

Okay so maybe this one doesn’t qualify as a classic based on time in market but I can’t help but include it in my list of favorite things. Being a motorcycle buff who likes to spin wrenches, my first exposure to this product brought a instant smile to my face. Why didn’t I think of this! For years the mechanics trick has been to apply a dab of contact cement or even spit to the tip of your finger to hold small nuts in place for tightening. Unfortunately even these tricks don’t always work. The use of a magnet embedded in the tip of a finger glove is pure brilliance. There are lots of creative ways to use magnets to solve design problems. This is the kind of design that intrigues me; design that solves problems in new ways.

Magnetic Finger

Great holiday gift for the mechanically inclined.

David Hill

Vice President, Lenovo Corporate Identity and Design  

As the Vice President of Corporate Identity and Design, David leads an international team of human factors engineers, graphic, and industrial designers. Prior to joining Lenovo, David led and managed some of IBM’s most strategic and successful design initiatives. His experiences include computing systems ranging from high performance server design to the now classic ThinkPad. His work embodies a strong synergistic relationship between both form and function.

David has often been recognized for design excellence by the German Industrie Forum Design Hanover, including their coveted Top 10 and Best of Category awards. His work has received ten IDEA awards from the Industrial Designers Society of America, as well as their Design of the Decade honor for ThinkPad. Additionally, products designed by David have received the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen Best of the Best Award for Highest Design Quality, the Chicago Anthenaeum Good Design Award, and the Japanese G-Mark for Design Excellence.

David’s work has been featured in numerous design related books and publications, and is included within the permanent design collections of museums in both Europe and the United States. David has more than 50 patents focused on design innovation