(Not exactly a woodworking tool)Recommendations or a good stud-finder?

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Forum topic by Millo posted 02-21-2010 03:52 PM 3491 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Millo's profile


543 posts in 2468 days

02-21-2010 03:52 PM


Here I am annoyingly requesting another tool recommendation. We need a reliable stud sensor, and it seems all reviews I read about most models describe them as a nightmare, almost regardless of price. Do I need to go over $40 to get one that’ll not drive me to turn my walls into Swiss cheese? I did find an online comparison test that recommended a Stanley model that might not be made anymore, or at least that isn’t readily available around here—I’d rather buy it here than wait to have it shipped. I did look at the current Stanley ones around the same price as the recommended ones and saw the typical nightmarish reviews—”piece of junk”, “I wish I had read these reviews before buying”, “drilled 5 holes, found 1 stud”, etc…

Does anyone have any recommendations?


29 replies so far

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 2743 days

#1 posted 02-21-2010 03:56 PM

The problem I always have is where electricity confuses the tool. But I try to count on the fact that walls are constructed to code so I try to find one stud and work outward with the stud finder (yes, it’s about $40) and tapping with my knuckles to hear changes in sound.

However, it does not always work. I am fearless when it comes to opening drywall and redoing it do it does not bother me too much. I admit, it’s a pain!

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 3423 days

#2 posted 02-21-2010 04:03 PM

I have better results using intuition like locations of elec outlets, visible nails and tapping with my knuckle than any stud finder i’ve ever used.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3636 days

#3 posted 02-21-2010 04:12 PM

I use the same method as miles125… look for clues, tap for sound,, and, when you’re pretty sure, drive a small finishing nail to see if you hit something. If you miss, small nail holes are easy to fill.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2492 days

#4 posted 02-21-2010 04:49 PM

I’ve basically given up on stud finders. I’ve owned several, including some more expensive ones, and I find that I can never rely on them. However, if you buy one I have one tip – fresh batteries. Use fresh new batteries every time and then save those batteries for other applications (TV remote or whatever).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2486 days

#5 posted 02-21-2010 06:03 PM

I have two stud finders that just collect dust in my shop drawers. Visual cues (electrical boxes, wall corners, etc) a tape measure, and a knuckle are the most reliable.

I did use one last summer, however. I was delivering some furinture to a (very attractive) lady customer who asked me to help her hang some pictures. She had a stud finder and wanted me to teach her how to use it. I installed the battery, held it against my chest, and pushed the button. When the light came on, I said “Ok, it works” and stepped toward the wall. After a brief look of confusion, she “got it” and collapsed in laughter.

When she recovered, I showed her my method and told her to return her stud finder – or use it to entertain her friends. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 2468 days

#6 posted 02-21-2010 07:48 PM


Yeah, I did use the knuckle method but missed once. I guess I misinterpreted the sound. I’ll the tape measure/outlet/light switch method. Thanks guys!

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2486 days

#7 posted 02-21-2010 08:06 PM

The knuckle trick isn’t foolproof, but you’ll get better with practice. Verifying with a small finish nail usually seals the deal, and a hole or two is easily fixed.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View dfarr's profile


19 posts in 2850 days

#8 posted 02-21-2010 08:37 PM

Check out the lowtech STUD4SURE available on Amazon. After reading all the negative reviews of the electronic gizmos costing $25 – $100 dollars and patching holes caused by the knuckle method I purchased the older version of this. Mine works remarkably well and based on the reviews on Amazon it appears the new model does too. Currently listed for $10 (with free shipping on $25 orders) I’d recommend you give one a try.

View TroutStalker's profile


30 posts in 2786 days

#9 posted 02-21-2010 08:42 PM

I’ve given up on stud finders. I use a rare earth magent; it will stick to drywall nails or screws. When I feed a need to verify I use an icepick – makes a smaller hole than a finish nail.

-- The best thing online is a fish

View KMJohnson's profile


165 posts in 2439 days

#10 posted 02-21-2010 08:45 PM

Zircon, makes good scaners.

-- Let's do it in the wood pile!

View ahock's profile


102 posts in 2742 days

#11 posted 02-21-2010 09:01 PM

I use some cow magnets (the ones that you shove down their throats to collect the little bits of metal that they might swallow..) I take one and tie a string around it and hang it from my hand and slowly swing it back and forth against the wall. It will grab onto screw or nail heads and stick.

-- Andy, PA ~Finding satisfaction in creation

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17573 posts in 3094 days

#12 posted 02-21-2010 10:20 PM

I’m with ahock. I never see a stud finder on a job being used by a carpenter. They all carry cow magnets. I tried two or three and never had one that worked very well.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 2468 days

#13 posted 02-23-2010 12:00 AM

cow magnets? Had no idea that was needed for cows. Hmm… I’ll look into that.

View Eric_S's profile


1551 posts in 2613 days

#14 posted 02-23-2010 02:02 AM

Ive tried a few different stud finders (Zircon, Stanley, Black and decker), even the ones that have wall thickness adjusters or electric sensors, and they have all caused me to drill numerous holes, all of which didn’t hit studs. What was supposed to be a quick and easy task with a stud finder turned into a tedious chore. Now I just use the finish nail technique like others have mentioned.

Cow Magnets? Never heard of them but sounds like a good idea. Where do you get those?

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17573 posts in 3094 days

#15 posted 02-23-2010 02:49 AM

Feed stores or veterinary supply

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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