How does a Non-Electric Stud Finder Work?

hammering a nail into a stud
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With all of the nifty gadgets out there today that are battery powered, it really makes you think about how non-battery-powered tools work, in this case, specifically how does a non-electric stud finder works?

A Brief History of the Stud Finder

Also known as stud detectors or stud sensors, the stud finder is a key tool for many contractors, carpenters, and many self-proclaimed home improvement gurus. This simple little tool can make or break the integrity of many projects (no pun intended). The primary function of this tool is to assist in locating the point of intersection between the wood and the metal framing studs used in light-frame construction when the walled surface has already been installed.

Why it Works

screws sticking to a magnetic screwdriver

Magnets are an object that produces an invisible magnetic field. There are three different types of magnetic field type, but for the purpose of this example we will only be focusing on one of them. The permanent magnet is an object made from magnetized materials thus creating its own persistent magnetic field. Think refrigerator magnets. The process of creating a magnetized material is called ferromagnetic and the materials that can be used in this process are: cobalt, nickel, and iron (to name a few).

Why Magnets?

With all of the advancements in technology and electronics every single day, you might ask yourself, "Why choose something as primitive as a magnetic powered tool over a cutting edge electronic model"? Well, it's simple! With a magnetic stud finder there is absolutely no need for batteries, re-charging, or any electronic component of it that can malfunction. In other words, it's goof proof!

When Do I Use it?

Given the fact that many home-improvement gurus, along with contractors, carpenters, etc already know this, one cannot assume that everyone reading this article does! A quick review: Studs are, in more cases than not, generally set 16 inches "on center". On center can be defined as the measured distance from the middle of one stud to the middle (center) of the adjacent stud. So, essentially, once you find the on center stud you can measure exactly 16 inches horizontally across to the on center of the next stud.

It is very important to add a magnetic stud finder to this process. It goes along with the rule "measure twice; cut once". While doing the measurement method, enlisting a measuring tape and pencil, by adding the magnetic stud finder it increases the level of accuracy in measurement. Remember, studs are generally set 16 inches "on center".

How it's Used

stud finder

Since there are no electronics, this is a super simple tool to use. The magnetic stud finder will house a freely moving rod which is visible through a casing. You want to place the stud finder on the wall and begin to slide it. When the magnet in the finder begins to move you know you are entering a magnetic field and getting close. Ultimately, when the rod on the inside of the clear container is perpendicular to the wall you have found the stud.