I lost my stud finder. I read where you can detect nails using a magnet suspended from a piece of string. It does not work. It does detect the metal strips where the walls intersect. Is there another method?


  • 1
    Stronger magnet
    – Kris
    Aug 9, 2019 at 1:45
  • I installed 3 stud finder apps for my Android phone as well as a compass app. Totally useless.
    – fixit7
    Aug 9, 2019 at 9:37

2 Answers 2


I use the product pictured below to find nails or screws in wall and ceiling drywall. They are very sensitive due to the magnet being supported in a swing support that lets the thing tip and pull the magnet toward the metal part in the drywall.

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Picture Source

In use you just have to sweep this small plastic thing over the area of investigation until there is some indication on the yellow magnet flipper. Once in the general area you move slowly over the area. The nail or screw will be indicated when the yellow indicator points the magnet straight to the wall.

  • I got the magnetic stud finder today. It found the stud in 2 areas easily. @Michael Karas
    – fixit7
    Aug 12, 2019 at 17:48
  • Glad it worked out for you. I keep two of these around.
    – Michael Karas
    Aug 12, 2019 at 17:50

Start from a corner. Studs are usually placed 16" or 24" apart, so measure 16", look for a stud there, then try again at 24" if you fail.

Alternately, look for an outlet. These are generally attached directly to a stud, so there should be a line of nails directly to one side or the other. If you have an outlet near a corner, you can measure the distance to see what stud spacing you have.

Once you know exactly where to look, the magnet technique works better, though you really need a rare-earth magnet for that to work well. (If you have a good ear for sound, you can also try knocking on the wall. A stud will sound different than a wall cavity.)

EDIT: two more points:

1) I just tried this with a refrigerator magnet, and it doesn't work at all. You really need a real magnet.

2) There's usually a nail a bit over 4' off the ground, because that's a comfortable height for a standard-height adult to aim for.

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