A Stud Finder as a Metal Detector? Or a silly idea?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by Alex Lane posted 10-27-2010 12:31 AM 14153 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Alex Lane's profile

Alex Lane

508 posts in 3918 days

10-27-2010 12:31 AM

Topic tags/keywords: humor tip question metal detector milling stud finder

I was recently looking at getting a metal detector for finding nails/staples/screws in boards before machining them. But then I remembered that I’ve got a nice stud finder that has the ability to search for studs up to 3 inches below the wall’s surface. Would this work for a metal detector in the woodshop?? Or am I just being foolish? By the way, I might also be able to find live electrical wires hidden in my boards with this stud finder…

-- Lane Custom Guitars and Basses

10 replies so far

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


708 posts in 3301 days

#1 posted 10-27-2010 12:37 AM

Might work. Why not try it for yourself?

Take a scrap piece of lumber and drive various (small) nails. Drive some deep below the surface. Might even want to putty over some of the deep ones, just in case.

If you can find everything small, you should be able to find nails, screws, and scraps of metal embedded in wood.

Good luck! Cheers!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 2858 days

#2 posted 10-27-2010 12:41 AM

As far as I know, modern stud finders locate the studs by density changes, not by finding metal. The old style swinging stud finders had magnets but I doubt they would be sentisive enough for small metal objects, such as rusted nails etc.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18290 posts in 3703 days

#3 posted 10-27-2010 02:26 AM

My esperience with stud finders is they are not very reliable, too much other stuff they find or don’t find. A cow magnet would probably be better than a stud finder, but it won’t find deep nails 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 davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3513 days

#4 posted 10-27-2010 02:49 AM

Like GaryL said, a metal detector and a stud finder are two completely critters, and work on very different principles. Original thinking though. Try again.

BTW, I think Rocklers has a metal detector for around $20.

I remember when they first came out for woodworkers, at around $120.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18290 posts in 3703 days

#5 posted 10-27-2010 04:04 AM

They do work on different princliple. The stud finder might see a change in desnity where the metal is and maybe not. In general, after 40+ years of fishing things in walls, stud finders are a waste of money, IMO.

I have a metal detector form Rockler. It was on sale or I had one of their 20 +% off cupons, Still close to $100 bill. It does work great!! :-))

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

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3102 days

#6 posted 10-27-2010 04:48 AM

If you are buying lumber from a source where there might be a problem with nails you need a good metal detector. From what I have seen, a good metal detector can be purchased for less than the cost of a good table saw blade.

I would not trust a stud finder to do the job. Too much is at risk.

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

View blackivory69's profile


84 posts in 3044 days

#7 posted 10-27-2010 10:08 AM

I bought my metal detector (Wand Style) at Harbor Freight and I can say that it works very well. It can pick up even the smallest nail. I think I got it for less than $20.

-- blackivory69

View Alex Lane's profile

Alex Lane

508 posts in 3918 days

#8 posted 10-27-2010 01:39 PM

Thanks everyone! I can see that it’s not worth trying to be a Cheapy-the-Cheapskate on this issue. I’ll pick up a real metal detector asap.

-- Lane Custom Guitars and Basses

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3011 days

#9 posted 10-27-2010 03:37 PM

I have the little wizard that David provided the link to and have had good results with it so far. I have never tried it on anything over 2” thick, but for that and less its worked well. had mine for about 5 years now.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Aaron Taylor's profile

Aaron Taylor

37 posts in 3177 days

#10 posted 10-27-2010 04:47 PM

Try woodcraft – Little Wizard Metal Detector – on sale for $12.99

I have had one for a while and it works great. Just make sure to have it at least 5 inches above something you know has metal in it. It is very sensitive. Of course it may take a couple passes on larger pieces, but for the price it is great.


“Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.”—Cary Grant from the
movie Arsenic and Old Lace

-- "Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops."--Cary Grant from the movie Arsenic and Old Lace

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics