How Does a Magnetic Stud Finder Work

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You will never lack a simple tool like a magnetic stud finder in every household tool kit in the modern era. Yes, things have drastically changed, unlike the traditional days. But how does a magnetic stud finder work?

Voluminous household items like the cupboards and the wall units have been replaced with simple shelves mounted on the walls to create more space in the room.

The televisions are mounted on the wall, and the TV cabinets are a history.

How Does a Magnetic Stud Finder Work
Woodworking

You can hang lightweight items on thin wallboards, but what about heavy items like the shelves, television, wall mirror, or your framed pictures? You will need a stud finder to locate studs on your wall to mount your heavy items firmly.

Luckily, in the mid-1970s, modern technology brought a magnetic stud finder in the market to ease the stud finding work. Before this invention, it was a bit hard to locate wall studs.

Most stands measure 2 by 4 or 2 by 6, which is a great thickness to hold your screws firmly. Additionally, the studs are placed with 12, 16, or 24 inches spacing. As such, you wouldn’t fail to locate several studs on a single wall.

How Does a Magnetic Stud Finder Work?

How Does a Magnetic Stud Finder Work
Woodworking

A magnetic stud finder is a simple device introduced in the market before the electric stud finders. Surprisingly, the device has remained marketable despite being termed analogue.

Magnetic stud finders are designed with a simple magnet, and usually, a magnet is attracted to metals.

As that’s the case, a magnetic stud finder is passed on the wall to detect steel nails and screws that attach wallboards to the stud. Once the magnet is passed near a nail, it gets attracted, and the user locates the stud.

There are two types of magnetic stud finders;

  • Stationary magnetic stud finder.
  • Moving magnetic stud finder.
How Does a Magnetic Stud Finder Work
Woodworking

a) Stationary Magnetic Stud Finder

A stationary magnetic stud finder has its magnet fixed. It relies on the user to drag it against the wall to locate the stud nails. As a user, you need to be keen when moving the stud finder horizontally against the wall to feel any attraction.

b) Moving Magnetic Stud Finder

A moving magnetic stud finder has a larger compartment than the magnet. The device uses a neodymium magnet that freely moves around the compartment to detect any metallic object.

In simple, all you do is place the compartment against the wall and watch the magnet locate the stud nails automatically. The neodymium magnets are very strong hence increased accuracy.

Related Read: Magnetic stud finder for plaster walls

How Does a Magnetic Stud Finder Work
Woodworking

How to Use a Magnetic Stud Finder

To locate the studs in your wall, you need a magnetic stud finder and several other items;

  • Magnetic stud finder
  • A marker
  • A tape measure
  • A screwdriver
  • Mounting materials

Step 1:

Move your magnetic stud finder horizontally against the wall to locate studs. The magnet will get attracted if you get to a point where stud nails or screws are located.

Step 2:

After the magnet locates the screws or nails, make an X mark using your marker for later identification.

How Does a Magnetic Stud Finder Work
Woodworking

Step 3:

Move your stud finder again to locate the second stud. After locating, make the second X mark.

Step 4:

Use a tape measure to confirm the spacing to ensure you’ve located the real stud. Remember, most houses with studs are designed with 12, 16, or 24 inches spacing.

Step 5:

For the second confirmation, use one screw and drive it on the wall using the screwdriver. As the screw drills into the stud, you can confirm if it’s held firmly. Secondly, you can remove the screw and look inside the hole to confirm the stud.

Step 6:

Mount your material on the wall. Remember that the number of screws or nails you would use will depend on the mounting item. For instance, a TV will need more than one screw to mount on the wall due to its weight.

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How Does a Magnetic Stud Finder Work
Woodworking

Advantages of a Magnetic Stud Finder

  • A neodymium magnet is strong enough to offer the best functionality.
  • No batteries or power used to operate a magnetic stud finder.
  • A Neodymium magnet is not affected by the density, unlike other magnets.
  • It has fewer features hence easy to use.

Shortcomings of a Magnetic Stud Finder

  • Stationary magnetic stud finders are hard to use on walls with higher density.
  • They rely on humans for most operations like moving to wider areas and marking.
  • They don’t measure the centre of the stud. If nails are driven on the stud’s side, they wouldn’t be firm enough to hold heavy items.
  • If the builders used metal mesh on the wall, it can give wrong estimations of the stud.
  • Cannot detect non-metallic objects.
How Does a Magnetic Stud Finder Work
Woodworking

Are Magnetic Stud Finders Good?

Magnetic stud finders are good to work with. Considering the traditional methods of stud finding, like knocking the wall or locating the electrical sockets, they are faster and more accurate.

Devices like the Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finders are proven accurate and durable after several kinds of research and reviews.

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FAQs about Magnetic Studs

Can You Use a Magnet Instead of a Stud Finder?

Any magnet can as well work as the stationary magnet stud finder. However, for more accuracy and functionality, you would better use a neodymium magnet that is strong enough to detect iron nails and screws on a higher density.

Do Android Stud Finders Work?

If you have an android smartphone, the stud finder applications work as the magnetic stud finders. Other than non-metallic materials, they can detect iron nails and screws in the plaster. In this case, efficiency is determined by the application quality and capabilities. But if you have less knowledge about using smartphone applications, a magnetic stud finder can serve you best. 

How Do I Find a Stud With a Flash Light?

Step 1: Turn off other lights in the room.

Step 2: Direct the flashlight against the wall for the light beam to spread on it at a steep angle.

Step 3: Usually, nail and screw heads show small dimples after the over coating. Check for the dimples that may appear in a linear and uniform spacing to locate a stud.

Step 4: Use a marker to mark the dimples. You can use the measuring tape to confirm the spacing of 12, 16, or 24 inches.

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