The Little Toaster that Didn’t: A Teardown


I had been eyeing the toaster in my office kitchenette for weeks before taking the sophisticated appliance home.  I have a thing for toasters, my colleagues from my first job can attest to that.  After all, they had witnessed my rage of not being able to eat toasted bagels for weeks before purchasing me one. Anyways, I took the beaut from my current office home and tried to dismantle the device.  Here’s what I learned:

Toasters come with screws that mean “Stay out!”.   I was able to figure this out because the screw has a very atypical screw head. The Neji-Saurus was of no help and those screw pliers are awesome. Toasters also have other ways to say “Stay out!”, like bits of twisty metal holding plates in place.  The screws and construction of the toaster is probably difficult for a reason.  That reason is because the electrical filaments (nichrome wire), the little metal bits that turn red, carry large amounts of electrical currents through them to make infrared radiation that makes toast!  Sure, this little toaster was unplugged and hasn’t been plugged in since its factory days – but I remained frightened.

Here is what I was able to teardown and learn about.

Here are the stay out screws – I stayed out.


Here is a demo of what it looks like when you press down on the white handle.

Here is the circuit board and where I learned the most.



The pencil is touching a metal tab.  When the metal lever is depressed ( that is the part you push down on to make toast), the metal tab connects with the electromagnet, and that is what holds the toast down.  On the other side, you see a white plastic button.  When the lever is pushed down, the white button goes to the metal prongs sticking up.  Those metal prongs are called contacts and they apply power to the nichrome wires that make toast! That is also why there are a bunch of wires coming out the prongs and running to the filaments!

Back to the metal tab.  To the right of the pencil there is a black box with yellow stuff around it.  That black box is the electromagnet.  The top metal part is what the metal tab sticks to and holds the bread down. The yellow bit is the electromagnet.  The circular black thing behind the green circuit is the darkener/ timing capacitor. The timing capacitor is really how long you want your toast to be toasted / how long power is applied to the nichrome wires. Capacitors are basically like little batteries that store  electrical energy.  So once the timer is done, the electromagnet releases the metal tab, and up pops your toast!

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