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Stud finders?

Matt_G.'s picture

Stud finders? (post #159982)

What are your recommendations for stud finders. Wood studs behind drywall, is the current need. I got one of those $20 Zircon (sp?) ones about 3 or 4 years ago but it doesn't seem to work very well.

Sorry if this a repeat thread. I searched but didn't find much. I know I scanned an article recently - FHB? JLC?

(post #159982, reply #1 of 51)

I'm interested in this too: anyone have one of those newfangled ones that find copper, rebar, live wires, etc.?

(post #159982, reply #2 of 51)


I did find the article - JLC, 10/98. It covers the multi-functioned ones too.

I'm probably going to buy one tomorrow and just don't want to end up with a piece of c*#p.

(post #159982, reply #3 of 51)

Well share your findings! I am using a Zircon with "deep penetration". It "finds" a stud on one pass. Then on the next pass it can't find it. Instead it finds a DWV pipe. So, it isn't exactly useless, but nearly so.

(post #159982, reply #4 of 51)


Do you know what model of Zircon you have? How old is it? Zircon was the brand that JLC liked the best. I gotta think that technology has improved with these things, but if I'm just going to piss away $20 or $30 I can think of some better things to use it on.

(post #159982, reply #5 of 51)

Matt ' I just replaced my old Zircon [ they dont take a fall from the top of a 6' ladder ] with a new Zircon with deepscan . It was around twenty bucks , not the one that locates elect. or steel . It works pretty well on standard 1/2" or 5/8" drywall , though it occasionally indicates something kinda strange , but without tearing off the drywall , who knows maybe it's telling the truth . At the very least it will get you in the vicinity and you can use the old finish nail trick to verify [ assuming it will be covered by what you needed to find the stud for in the first place ] . For me it is worth the price , one plus , the battery lasts forever . Chuck

(post #159982, reply #6 of 51)

Yeh, I got one of those Zircon's too. 8 or 10 years old. The switch is kinda funny on mine, but once you are sure it is "on" it seems to work fine. Man, I miss a couple nights and you guys are lightin' the place up! - jb

(post #159982, reply #7 of 51)


I bought the Zircon tri scan today - has 3 modes - regular, deep scan, and metal. Seemed to work OK, but nothing to write home about... maybe I should read the instructions - last resort ;^). It beeps - which my old one did not. About 35 bucks.

(post #159982, reply #8 of 51)

It beeps? Does that mean you pushin' it backwards or somethin'? - jb

(post #159982, reply #9 of 51)

Can't remember what the model number is for mine but it is 2 or 3 years old. I had one of the old ones that broke and the new one with the deepscan was all the rage in the magazines.

It frequently gives different readings over the same section of wall on sequential passes. Never really used it a lot because I mainly do new construction until this remodel. It sometimes gets me in the general vicinity and sometimes would get me in big trouble if I believed it was as accurate as advertised.

Since I have a fair amount of remodeling yet to do a good studfinder would really be great. How about the new Stanley graphic that is advertised? Anybody with experience?

(post #159982, reply #10 of 51)

I also have the basic Zircon w "deep sensor" capabilities. Bought it about 3 years ago for around $18USD.

Works fine for me through 5/8ths drywall. I had a worker get nowhere with it, after watching him he was pressing the button prior to having it set against the wall. May sound obvious, but make sure you've got it placed in the wall, then press the button.

I usually run it back and forth a few times, the reading come out within 1/8th inch of each other.

I'm considering the newer multi-sensing ones, maybe when this one dies...

(post #159982, reply #11 of 51)

Mongo I have the same problem . My sensor works fine for me but others have problems , guess it takes getting used to . In addition to placing it on the wall before pushing the button , you arent supposed to put your other hand near it while moving across the wall . Since it senses changes in density if you happen to start with it on a stud it will act weird too . Chuck

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Matt G.

Hammer & nail? I have on of those Zircons. . .like the one you bought, still use the hammer & nail though. . .

Joseph Fusco

Fusco & Verga Construction Co., Inc.

(post #159982, reply #13 of 51)

I have the Zircon/deep scan and it works ok -- the trick is using it with a bit of thought about what's in the wall. It's really important to start it against a hollow part of the wall, that's when it calibrates itself. We have plaster walls with buttonboard, and the buttons drive the thing nuts; but because it has a multi-led readout you can distinguish somewhat between studs and near misses.

With drywall, tapping the wall is often enough. A bit of insight I read somewhere: look for a nearby electrical receptacle. Because most electricians are right-handed, the stud will be on the left. Measure from there, use the Zircon to double-check the framer's accuracy. (If the stud's not to the left, it's to the right.)

The $20 was worth it if only because my 3 y.o. absolutely adores the thing.

(post #159982, reply #14 of 51)

Stud finders,I've had several different brands .....never had much luck with any of them.Seems like every time I get anywhere near the darn things they wood start beeping.

(post #159982, reply #15 of 51)

That's the "defect" warning.

(post #159982, reply #16 of 51)

* it possible you have a metal plate in your head?

(post #159982, reply #17 of 51)

Maybe it's a quality control issue. Mine (Zircon with the
deep scan) works pretty well. Borrowed one on jobsite last
year, same model, and it lit up and sounded like a video
game. Very unreliable. Maybe the 6' ladder theory?

crazy legs-I liked the "beeping backwards" thing/plate in
head suggestions. Keep em coming,



(post #159982, reply #18 of 51)

I also have one of the 20 buck Zircons and it usually gets me in the ballpark to finish off with the old "finishing nail trick" mentioned above. It occasionally goes a little crazy, but then so does my cat. However, what I really need is a chick finder that works...

(post #159982, reply #19 of 51)

Well Casey, man, you aren't too far from JonC, and that guy is a chick MAGNET. If you started runnin' with him, you would have to benefit just from the overflow. - jb

(post #159982, reply #20 of 51)

Matt G

I found the best for finding studs is a cilinder cow magnet. It will locate the nail on wooden studs and metal studs also. It's cheap, and you don't have to worry about breaking it. When I first saw it my boss was using it to locate studs. Low and behold, he found them faster then my twenty dollar finder did. Sense then my "high dollar" finder stays in my tool box, and my Magnet stays with me. Hi-tech has its places. But the cow magnet is the best for this problem.


(post #159982, reply #21 of 51)

OK, I give, just what is a "cilinder cow magnet"? Or, did I just bite on a joke?

(post #159982, reply #22 of 51)

Something that sticks on the fridge door???? My best guess????

By the way, maybe I shoulda read the instructions for the new stud finder for more than 20 seconds, but, for now, my best method is rapping knuckles on drywall.

(post #159982, reply #23 of 51)

If I recall correctly a "cow magnet" is a magnet that you force down the throat of a cow. The idea is to collect any loose iron or steel objects that the cow may have ingested.

I believe that the collection is then expelled in the usual way but whether the magnet is retrieved for repeat use is an area where I have no experience nor do I wish gain that experience.

If you are trying to find nails with a magnet have you tried those rare-earth magnets? I just bought six of them out of one of the woodworking catalogs. They are the size of a quarter and I think they are permanently stuck to my refrigerator. They brought to mind that fifties SI-FI flick "MAGNETIC MONSTER".

(post #159982, reply #24 of 51)

Sorry Fred,

I admit it. I can not spell very well. It is a cow magnet. I just tape some string on it to find the nails or studs.



(post #159982, reply #25 of 51)

Rare Earth was a pretty good live band. - jb

(post #159982, reply #26 of 51)


I wasn't picking on your spelling, heaven knows I have my own problems there. I just don't know what a cow magnet is, cylinderical or any other shape.

(post #159982, reply #27 of 51)

Time to revive this old thread. Maybe the new milennium has spawned a superior electronic stud finder (or babe magnet?). I use rare earth magnets that are cylinders 1/4" high by 3/8" diameter. They not only find the nails/screws in drywall, but they stay there until you move them, even on ceilings unless popcorned. They cost me $5 each many years ago, are probably less now. One might try Edmund Scientific. I keep two of these together in a film can. The one with all the tools clinging to it!

The cow magnet is designed to stay in the cow for its whole life. The idea is to keep the barbed steel objects in the beast's tough stomach where they will do no harm, rather than letting them pass to the tender intestines which could be ripped open. Yecch!

The magnets are not any good for walls with thick plaster, or for framing the rockers did not fasten to. Or floors. I bought the $20 Zircon, and it was inconsistent, to say the least. I read all the directions, did a repeat test on one place, got a bunch of readings, and returned it for credit. If I am going to guess, I can do it freehand without a yellow box to help me. However, hope springs eternal in the tool-lover's heart. Has anyone had unequivocal success with one of these gizmos? What we need is a form of x-ray glasses like in the old comic books so we need not depend on LED's and beeps to tell us where the framing is! Guys who do a lot of remodel work would pay a lot for one that did that. Hundreds, not thousands.


(post #159982, reply #28 of 51)

I too returned my Zircon after I called them and was told that they will not work with plaster walls. Would have been nice of them to indicate that on the package. went back to the finish nail and hammer.

(post #159982, reply #29 of 51)

I have one and do use it with plaster with "deep scan", but only as one trick among several. Someone said the $$ Zircon "videoscanner" worked well. Whatever.

(post #159982, reply #30 of 51)

Hey Andrew, Do you consider the Zircon a toy?