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A stud finder can make the difference between that framed painting hanging majestically for years to come and it crashing to the ground an hour after you hang it as a chunk of drywall rips out in the process. Many stud finders can also make the difference between you drilling a hole or hammering a nail into a water pipe, thereby turning a modest project like putting up a shelf or mounting a TV into a serious home repair almost surely involving pricey professionals.
In short, a stud finder is an important tool if you value doing a job right and avoiding potentially serious mishaps. But don’t worry, this important tool is also affordable and easy to use. Many operate with the push of a single button and use easily interpreted lights to indicate the location of hidden studs. Some have an even more basic operation, simply adhering to the wall near studs thanks to magnetism. And many can also detect electrical wires, helping keep you safe and preventing accidental damage to the wiring in your home, office, or wherever you’re working.
Electric stud finders rely on the dielectric constant of various materials, detecting the density of the surface in close proximity to their sensor plate. In other words, they can tell when they’re beaming an electric charge into hollow space beyond the drywall and when they are hovering near a solid wooden stud or a metal stud. Magnetic stud finders literally just magnetize themselves to metal behind the drywall, whether to metal studs or to the screws, nails, bolts, and other materials in a wooden beam.
For most DIY projects, a basic stud finder will serve fine. If you’re worried about the wiring or pipes hidden in your walls, consider a more advanced unit that can detect various materials. The price of a comprehensive sensor will pay for itself time and time again in the money you save by not ruining your plumbing or electrical system.
And while you can always aim any stud finder at yourself and say: “Found the stud right here!” note that the best hardware for this activity is a mirror into which you can gaze before coming to the realization that it was only funny the first time.
Any decent stud finder is going to ultimately locate a wall stud, but usually not without an annoying process of calibration and sliding the thing back and forth along the wall, usually with a few false positives before you’re confident you have indeed found a stud and approximated the location of its center. Not so with the Franklin ProSensor 710.
This high-accuracy tool simultaneously detects the wall and framing hardware below it at 13 distinct points, instantly creating an accurate readout of the hidden materials. Its extra wide body makes detection easier, and only those lights directly before the stud will illuminate, making end detection easy even without any sliding back and forth to be sure. That wide body design also helps you identify double studs.
The high sensitivity of the sensors does more than detect quickly and without sliding, too. It also ensures an accurate detection even through uneven materials, such as multiple layers of paint or wallpaper, textured plasters, and more. All that high tech, high accuracy detection requires nothing but the push of one button.
I will say that I’d expect AC power detection from a stud finder that costs 50 bucks, but the Franklin ProSensor 710 certainly does its primary job with poise.
More than 3,000 Amazon customers agree with me: The ProSensor 710 enjoys a 4.5-star average rating and positively glowing reviews. A gentleman named Brian hits the nail on the head, as it were, when he calls it “outstanding” and so accurate it “could be used by surgeons.”
A writer from Digital Trends called out the “remarkable stud-finding ability” of the ProSensor 710 that les you “mark exactly where objects begin and end for more detailed work.”
Pros: Instant detection without sliding, wide design for precision readings, can identify multiple studs
The CH Hanson Stud 4 Sure Magnetic Stud Finder is basically a fancy magnet, to be frank. Or rather it’s a collection of magnets oriented in a solid plastic case with a soft grip rubber exterior.
It locates studs through attraction to a metal stud itself or to the screws and nails sunk into a wooden beam. If the CH Hanson Stud 4 Sure Magnetic Stud Finder is sticking to your wall, there’s a stud under there. If not, no stud. Get it?
Of course this device is going to be less accurate than an electric stud finder. Some wooden studs have relatively little metal hardware stuck through them, so it’s not impossible that you’ll miss a piece of framing if you don’t move the stud finder up and down and side to side. That extra work is easily justified by the minute $8 price tag of the CH Hanson Stud 4 Sure Magnetic Stud Finder, though.
The addition of a bubble level makes it easy to keep track of the stud’s position behind the wall, while the fact that the unit stays adhered to the wall hands free allows for easy markings and measurements.
At the time of this writing, the CH Hanson Stud 4 Sure Magnetic Stud Finder is approaching a stunning 9,000 reviews on Amazon, and with a solid 4.5-star average rating to boot. A shopper named Leonard calls it “remarkably accurate and dirt cheap,” while a buyer named Amanda said it “sticks to the studs perfectly.”
A writer from The Architect’s Guide appreciated how the Stud 4 Sure “doesn’t require batteries” and “never needs calibration.”
I keep my Ryobi LED Whole Stud Detector in the top of my tool box, where it nestles snugly among a couple of hammers, seven or eight screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, a box of nails, and all the other stuff tossed in as well. In other words, I’m not all that gentle with it.
But hey, after multiple projects in multiple residences, not to mention 2,800 miles bouncing along during a cross-country move, the thing still works well every time.
The Ryobi LED Whole Stud Detector uses seven LED lights that do indeed help indicate an entire stud’s span as only the lights above the stud illuminate. Even more helpful is the center indication function that clearly displays the middle of a stud for the most solid sinking of nails or screws by illuminating a circle of green light when you have hit the central spot.
The tool also has an AC detection system that uses both a red light and a beep to warn when you are near active electrical current, a feature I’ve appreciated many times. There is also a center punch button that can make a small divot on the wall behind the stud finder, so you don’t have to use a pen or pencil to mark the spot.
And while many people complain that this stud finder requires two hands to use, it really doesn’t: You just turn the thing upside down and use your index and pinky finger to operate its two buttons. Though single button operation would still be a lot easier.
One Home Depot customer reported that “being able to identify the edges and center of the stud is something this tool” made easy, while another reported it working well even on “texturized walls.”
Popular Mechanics highlighted the Ryobi LED Whole Stud Detector’s ability to “show proximity of [a] stud on either end” of the hidden hardware.
Pros: Durable construction, center indication light, built in center punch marker, sensitive AC detection
If the Zircon MultiScanner 740 weren’t expensive and frankly more complex and capable than most people need, I would call it the best stud finder. This is a professional-grade product that can greatly improve the results of a building project by greatly reducing the chance for error. As it does that in multiple ways, let’s start with physical design then get to the actual detection.
The Zircon MultiScanner 740 has a unique two-part construction with articulation between the handle and the sensor section. This allows for easy motion and reliable close contact with a wall as you move the device around. Into the handle is a set wall marker that creates a clear but washable dot to indicate where you should later drill or sink screws or nails.
Now, as for the detection chops of this thing? It finds wooden studs quite well, of course, and will not only identify the center of a stud but also uses an arrow to show which direction to move the unit if you’ve gone past a stud. It also finds metal studs easily.
But more impressive than that are the other things the Zircon MultiScanner 740 can detect. It finds and alerts you to the presence of electrical wires, and it not only locates but differentiates between different types of other metal hardware. It finds non-ferrous (iron-free and non-magnetic, e.g.) metals like copper, helping prevent damage to pipes or conduit.
Thanks to its auto correcting technology feature, the Zircon MultiScanner 740 is accurate and effective even if you start your scan directly over a stud.
One owner named Matt left an Amazon review calling his MultiScanner 740 “money well spent.” He went on to call it the “best stud finder for home [use] and DIYers.” Another gentleman reported that it “works exactly as advertised.”
Do note that a number of customers found the unit overly complex in design and not user friendly, but with a read-through of the manual and some patience, you should be able to master it.
Sure, the Black & Decker BDL190S BullsEye is on the pricier side of things in the stud finder category, but this is a total two-in-one if ever I’ve seen it.
As a stud finder, it easily locates wooden and metal studs and it even has an AC detection function, too. But it also has a line laser that can project bright, clear red lines onto your walls, helping you easily hang pictures, shelving, and more in an even line. Thanks to the device’s auto-leveling feature, those lines will be good and straight even without the use of a separate level.
If you’re hanging a single painting or installing one hook, a regular stud finder is all you need. If you’ll be working along an extended horizontal surface, however, this laser line/stud finder combination is a lifesaver for keeping your project even and looking great. It even frees up your hands by sticking to the wall with a hanging pin, though of course using that feature will leave a small hole in the wall.
With nearly 200 reviews posted on Amazon, the Black & Decker BDL190S BullsEye has a fine 4.1-star averaged rating. One reviewer called it “easy to use and accurate,” while another reported owning one that lasted for more than eight years of regular use.
A writer from ProToolsHub said the integration of the two tools in one “will help you make your work much easier” and called it “perfect for working at home.”
A good dolly cart helps you move loads weighing hundreds of pounds without back spasms or excessive swearing.
Whether your job calls for moving hundreds of boxes a week or your move calls for moving all your furniture, appliances, and stuff in one weekend, a good hand truck is a great thing to have on hand. Save yourself from the backache and get the work done faster with the latest versions of this centuries-old type of hardware.
If you like to tackle DIY projects around the house, you’re going to need a saw or two. We’ve rounded up the very best saws you can buy whether you need a jigsaw, chainsaw, circular saw, or table saw. In our guide, we’ve included picks for eight different kinds of saws:
From painting the nursery to changing a light bulb or hanging holiday lights, everyday life often calls for a ladder.
A cordless power drill is one of the most versatile tools you can keep in your home. It works to bore holes, drive screws, and stir mortar, among other tasks. So when seeking the best drill, we’d suggest going with the most versatile power drill, the Makita 18V Cordless 1/2-Inch Hammer Driver Drill.
You should also consider the Bosch 12V 3/8-Inch Drill, the Black & Decker 12V Cordless Drill, the Porter-Cable 20V 1/2-Inch Drill, and the Makita 1/2-Inch Corded Drill.
No toolkit is complete without a great measuring tape. From the professional contractor’s work to the DIY home repair, countless projects call for precise measurements. The QuickDraw DIY Self Marking Measuring Tape is our top choice because its innovative built-in pencil ensures you mark the same spot you measured.
You should also consider the Stanley PowerLock 25-Foot Tape Measure, the WorkPro 100-Foot Fiberglass Measuring Tape, the General Tools LTM1 2-In-1 Laser Tape Measure, and the eTape16 Digital Measuring Tape.
With a good set of tools, you can repair a crooked cabinet, hang a shelf or picture frame, tune up your bicycle, or fix a leaky pipe under the sink. The Stanley 65-Piece Tool Kit is our top choice because it comes with many tools you’ll use all the time, it has only the tools you need, and each item is well-made.
You should also consider the WorkPro Kitchen Drawer 100-Piece Tool Kit, the OUTAD Multi-Functional 100-Piece Tool Kit, the Cartman General Household 39-Piece Tool Kit, and the AmazonBasics 65-Piece Home Repair Tool Set.
From temporary uses like hanging lights during the holidays or powering tools for a home repair project to more permanent applications like connecting a floor lamp to that outlet hidden behind the couch, extension cords are a must-have for modern life. The Coleman 16 Gauge Extension Cord is our top choice because it’s durable, flexible, and suitable for just about every application in and around the home.
You should also consider the AmazonBasics Vinyl Outdoor Extension Cord, the HOLSEM Power Strip Extension Cord, the Watt’s Wire 14 Gauge Extension Cord, and the Aurum Cables Extension Cord.
Sure, hammers have a pretty simple design, but that doesn’t mean all hammers are created equal. The advanced anti-vibration handle on the Stanley 20-Ounce FatMax Xtreme Hammer makes it the perfect hammer to handle all kinds of jobs around the house without putting stress on your wrists and forearms.
You should also consider the Vaughan & Bushnell 12-Ounce Soft-Face Hammer, the Stiletto TiBone 15-Ounce Titanium Milled-Face Hammer, the Estwing 25-Ounce Big Blue Framing Hammer, and the Tekton Jacketed Fiberglass Ball Pein Hammer.
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