Finding studs

Page 1 of 2  

I've struggled with this for the last forty years.
I want to hang something on a drywall wall, and I want to use the studs instead of drywall anchors. I have the damndest time finding the studs reliably.
There's the time-honored and lo-tech method of tapping on the wall and listening for different tones of hollow wall vs solid stud. So, I find a stud that way, then measure 16" (or 24") on either side, tap there, and hear a hollow sound. At that point, the process becomes random and seldom 100% accurate.
I have several electronic detectors and their performance is spotty as well. I can scan the same spot three or four times and get three or four different hits over a space of about four inches, too wide to be a single 2x2. (No, I'm not finding a doubled stud.)
The most reliable gadget I have is also the simplest: a small plastic horseshoe with a magnetic pointer suspended between the open ends. You move it over the wall until the pointer moves, at which time you know you have detected a nail head and are on a stud. The problem with that is that nail heads are a very small area of a wall and it takes a lot of systematic scanning to find them.
I invariably end up approximating where I think the studs are, then punching trial holes with an awl. This leaves me patching lots of little trial holes when I'm done.
Any suggestions?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

get a bunch of small supermagnets. you can get them for about .10/each when you buy in bulk (i use http://www.forcefieldmagnets.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath#_37&products_id7 ). run a stack over where you think the stud is and they'll be attracted to the drywall screws. put a small magnet over each screwhead. you'll see exactly where the studs run.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've had good luck with the electronic variety. The trick is to move them very slowly along the wall. The LEDs will shoot up at one boundary and down at the other boundary. I don't move more than about a centimeter per second once I know the general location.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Richard Evans wrote: ...

I basically start w/ the baseboard and find where it was nailed. Investigation there generally will find the pattern.
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

A very powerful magnet (about size of end of one thumb) can be scrapped out of an older style hard drive.
These are are so strong that two will attract and hold through a two inch diameter tree sapling!
One of these can be gently moved over a plasterboard wall and will hold 'themselves' in place wherever there is a nail or a screw. It's like the old expression; "If your underpants fall down use stronger elastic". In this case a 'stronger magnet'!
Also noticed that one way to determine if there is an electric current actually flowing in wires (there has to be something plugged in and/or switched on for current to flow) is to hold one of these magnets close the wiring and vibration will be felt due to the 60 hertz alternation of current through the wires. This works even though the two wires carrying current, live and neutral, are close together, or even twisted.
One amusing sidelight; is that someone was using one of these strong magnets on the end of a piece of string, to retrieve something but avoid moving a heavy metal filing cabinet. The magnet swung slightly and was attracted to the filing cabinet; where it stuck like glue. Don't know if they then moved the cabinet anyway or just abandoned the magnet until some future time!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have had good success with electronic stud finders, but I agree that the results can be spotty. You can get small, very powerful magnets on ebay, that you "rub" over a wall section until it sticks to a screw. It's a little faster than the horseshoe tool, because they will "home in" on a screw from about 2-3" away from it. Once you have found one, it is easier to locate the next ones based on a typical framing pattern.
JK
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 03 Oct 2008 12:12:10 -0400, Richard Evans

Rare-Earth magnets. You might find them in a hobby shop or Rad Shack. Even old dead hard drives have magnets for salvage. http://www.rare-earth-magnets.com/magnets.htm
I've not used this tool, but it uses magnets. http://www.magicstudfinder.com/howitworks.html
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Oren wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/3/2008 9:12 AM Richard Evans spake thus:

As others have suggested, forget the electronic detectors. Get yourself a simple, cheap mechanical/magnetic stud finder. Mine, made by Stanley, has a small powerful magnet suspended on a pivot. It's very sensitive and clearly swings when over a screw or nail (ferrous, of course).
--
Washing one\'s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 03 Oct 2008 10:36:13 -0700, David Nebenzahl

<grin>
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21ZHJWB4G5L._SL500_AA200_.jpg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/3/2008 11:22 AM Oren spake thus:

That's what I'm talking 'bout.
Of course, when I bought mine, the first thing that happened is that the clear plastic cover popped off. Little super glue fixed that right up, though.
--
Washing one\'s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 03 Oct 2008 12:12:10 -0400, Richard Evans

Since I started using threaded drywall anchors [Zip it or E-Z] I don't care where the stud is.
I drive a screw and if it hits a stud I'm happy. If it doesn't, I drive one of these in the same hole and drive the screw into it.
Haven't had one fail yet. [I have had a plastic one catch the side of a stud and break. Backed it out & now I use the metal ones.]
Jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Um, as long as you mind the load limits. There are situations where you MUST find a stud. A heavy wall cabinet is not going to be safely supported by drywall anchors.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
-snip-

-snip-
Yup- always use a big enough anchor. I'd probably go for a french cleat for cabinets, though. Glued and screwed to drywall/anchors/studs.
Jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yeah, there are plenty of crappy electronic studfinders that end up causing more harm than good. There are also good ones. Zircon tends to make good ones. Don't skimp on cost. A good studfinder pays for itself in eliminated mistakes in no time.
A metal detector feature is good, but be sure to use some care so you don't attempt to drive a nail though, say, a cast iron drain pipe. :)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Richard Evans wrote:

You could probably use an infrared camera and a heat gun. Heat the wall and then look at it with the camera. The drywall that is against studs will change temperature more slowly; heat up slower, cool down slower thus allowing you to see where the studs are.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I hereby nominate Claude for the AHR Rube Goldberg award of the month;-)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 03 Oct 2008 18:21:38 -0400, Claude Hopper

Have you actually tried it? I really hate it when people give advice that is merely pulled out of their ass.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
AZ Nomad wrote:

They can tell if you are using grow lamps to grow marijuana in your basement by the infrared glow of your basement walls.
--
Blattus Slafaly ? 3 :) 7/8

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 04 Oct 2008 09:14:25 -0400, Blattus Slafaly

Cite?
They usually go by existance of a utility bill that is five times higher that normal.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.