I Can't Find A Wood Stud Finder That Works Very Well?

candlerSeptember 2, 2010

Howdy. I'm old and have been sort of a gadget/tool guy all my life. The kids have given me things like wood stud finders over the years. Some were pricy. None ever met my expectations. It would only be a few weeks before what I got began sending false signals no matter how much calibrating. It should be simple to find a sensor that would penetrate drywall easily. So, has anyone come across a magic wand that will tell where a wood stud is located? Thanks, Gene

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I haven't found one. Some are better than others but I haven't seen one that's more than, say, 80% accurate.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 11:09PM
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I've had a Zircon for years. Maybe 8 years now? A basic model, has a "basic" setting plus a "deep" scan. Only indicates something behind the wall, doesn't differentiate between cast iron or wood.

But it works like a champ, shows the edges of studs right on. Never had a problem with it. And it was only $15 or so.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 11:35PM
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I have the same model of Zircon, not happy with it because it gives lots of false readings. I haven't found one thatÂs much better though they all do not work very well.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 8:05AM
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You might consider a magnetic:

Here is a link that might be useful: magnetic stud finder

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 10:08AM
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Thanks for everyone's reply. Recent aggravation with my Zircon is what caused this post. Stash hit the nail on the head (no pun intended) about false readings. I might add failure to read and difficult to hold. I just hoped there might be another sensor that was easy, quick and accurate. Regards, Gene

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 1:47PM
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"So, has anyone come across a magic wand that will tell where a wood stud is located?"

No, because there aren't any.

Professional builders and carpenters don't use stud finders.

You just need to learn the tricks as to how to locate studs without them.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 9:14AM
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Some small diameter 'super' magnets work well in houses with drywall.

They stick to the nails (or screw) used to attach the drywall.

Nothing seems to work well on old plaster walls.
They are just to thick (and the often less than regular stud spacing only adds to the problem).

Learn to fix holes in the walls.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 12:08PM
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I was using my strongest fridge magnet today to try to find stud in small bathroom that I had redone last fall. Dad had mild stroke but needs to hang on to something before stepping into shower. Didn't find a thing. Would a magnet from small speaker work? I have a large magnet that we picked up nails from ground after roof was finished at their house. Bro. said that would be way too strong.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 2:07AM
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Hello again. With all of the electronic technology I just felt I must continue that route. Reading what you've said made me start thinking the "old hat" way of finding just nail heads maybe wasn't that bad.

I'm an old metal detectorist. A few months ago I ordered a new Minelab. By ordering I was able to buy a hand held precision v4 pinpointer for $20. Yesterday I put batteries in it for the first time.

I removed its metal belt clip and wrapped the sensor end with a paper towel to protect walls. I started sweepiing the walls. It gives out a loud beep. I used post-it note paper for found nail location. My pinpointer is 18" long. I can reach the top of wall without stretching, and bottom without bending.

I'd still like to find a fool proof electronic sensor. Until one comes along I think my pinpointer will work okay. Regards, Gene

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 11:59AM
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Hi I have used the Zercon and I find it works not bad but you have to remember that the wall studs have sixteen inch centers and the start from the outside walls at either side but you have to find the first stud then check if the second is at sixteen unless the wall is short then it is not always the best approach.The products do not always work correct if you let pressure of the hold button for a second. But I find they do work but it is always good to check the sound by knocking on the wall and finding where it is most solid.I use all of the above methods and still make a bad hole now and again.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 12:53AM
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I have an old zircon that lights when hitting the edge of the stud. It doesn't get the exact dead on edge, so what I do is run it to one edge, then run it across the opposite direction to the opposing edge and mark the center between those two marks and it has never failed. It doesn't work great on heavy textured walls or in tight areas. It has a deep scan and a setting for mechanicals that I dont bother using. Just for finding studs on a spanned wall. Works fine but it's old and Im sure they dont make that model anymore, so your stuck with the more "upgraded , finer" technology in stud finders that I've heard nothing but negatives about. You might re-think the magnet finders that use rare earth magnets! Back to basics!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 11:40AM
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"wall studs have sixteen inch centers and the start from the outside walls at either side "

If only.

How many houses have you seen that are exact multiples of 16 inches?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 1:59PM
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I have the yellow Zircon. With drywall it works well. I just make sure to test more than once for each stud.

And sorry to mention this, but just in case there's anyone that doesn't read directions, that model lays flat on the wall, always pointing upward. Then you calibrate by turning it on where there's presumably no stud, and sliding it sideways to find the edge of something, etc.

Finally, while it may not be a magic wand, it's nice to have an assortment of anchors handy at all times. I like the "pop-toggles". For lighter work, those bright green ones that get hammered are quicker to install and work fine for lighter stuff. (Conversely, those self-drilling "EZ anchors" are lame....and especially bad for installing toilet paper holders. It's not long before they chew up the drywall and come loose.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 8:47AM
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I've been using rare earth magnets to find nails in the studs in my drywall, but they are not working in the bathroom through the ceramic tile.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 4:54PM
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My zircon stud finder works ok on interior walls but not at all on exterior walls with foil faced insulation.
Refridgerator magnets work well if the nails/screws are not buried too deep. The "Range" of a magnet is proportional to it's size. a 1/2" dia 1/8 thick rare earth magnet(that's large for a refrigerator magnet) has a contact pull force of around 7-8 lbs. At 1/8" distance, it is difficult to detect any pull force. I use a 1" dia X 1" long neodyium magnet. Just holding it in my hand and waving it over a wall I can find nails and screws that are 3/8"+ deep. The pull force is also proportional to the size of the metal object. Sheet rock nails and screws are easier to find than paneling nails.

google neodyium magnets, this size is around $10.00.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 5:52PM
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I have had good results with the stud finders. It is necessary to start with the unit pressed firmly on the wall between studs and then press the power button on the unit. Do not release the button and do not let let the unit drift off the wall surface. Starting on a stud will not work. If the unit acts "funny", release the button, move over 8 inches and start again. Rapping with a knuckle often works just as well as a stud finder.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 9:59PM
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Professional carpenters don't normally hang pictures; they are more likely to remove the wall finish in order to do their work but a stud finder does help when blowing insulation into a wall, especially when there might be diagonal bracing.

A stud finder is primarily a DIY tool so you're lucky to find one that works more than 80% of the time. I've never had any complaints.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 9:39AM
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"These instruments work by emitting an electric field that penetrates the wall or floor surface. "

The main problem with every 'stud finder' is that the actual working range is very short.

I have used some that are reasonably reliable in 1/2 inch drywall, but have yet to see one that works well in 3/4+ inch drywall, or plaster walls.

Plaster walls with metal mesh stop all of them cold.
A few have found doubled studs in wood lath plaster, but give no indication of a single stud.

Tapping and listening are just as accurate with some practice, and you can always drill a small hole and use a wire feeler to find the studs.

Keep the hole small and in can just be filled with Easysand or Durabond.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 10:14AM
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"Professional carpenters don't normally hang pictures"

I consider finish carpenters that install trims, cabinetry, closet works, etc as being professionals. The ones I know including myself use stud finders when the walls have been coated.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 11:41AM
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I give up on the Zircon, I installed base cabinets yesterday and could not locate any studs. Went back to using a nail to locate one and measured out the rest.
The manual method works.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 8:02AM
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I have never found a good one. I'll let what I do, which might sound horrible and destructive, but it works for me. The studs in my place are all over the place they run vertically and horizontally...

I use my stud finder, to give me a rough idea of where it is. Then I take small gauge nail (like a finishing nail) and tap into the wall until I find a stud. Then I just wipe a little fast n' final over the small holes that didn't hit a stud and paint. It works well for me. Especially if you have painted recently and still have paint left over or if you are mounting wall cabinets and they will be hidden anyway. Anyone feel free to tell me if this is a terrible thing to do.... I'm just a homeowner, not a professional

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 8:17PM
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magnetic stud finders are the most reliable way to go.
For one that will work on all kinds of walls, you'll need one of the new moving magnet types; e.g. studpop

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 10:06AM
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