This is a simple tool to help verify exact stud locations behind drywall.
This is OVERKILL for:
- Finding studs
- Hanging lightweight things like pictures or coat hangers
This is NOT for:
- Plaster walls
- People whose knuckles communicate with their ears
The Specific Purpose
Verifying the stud's extents so that critical items can be mounted securely to the center of the stud.
Personally, I want to verify the stud extents/center when I'm mounting:
- Wall-mounted lumber racks
- Ceiling-mounted shelving
- Floating bunk beds in our kids' room
If any of these fall, they pose considerable danger (or simply wreak havoc)
Note: When hanging heavy loads, other factors are also key, such as proper fastener selection, pre-drilling appropriately to reduce displacement when driving, and load calculations. But those are on the internet elsewhere and are outside the intended scope of this Instructable.
The Stud Verifier Tool:
A strong, super thin piano wire that can be pushed into the drywall to feel the actual stud. The wire is thin enough that when removed, the hole is hardly noticeable - even when looking closely.
Yes. There Are Good Stud Finders, such as the Franklin ProSensor 710
I have and love the Franklin ProSensor 710, and find that I reliably hit the stud each time. But, if you take multiple measurements, you see that the "center" varies within a range of about 1/2" - 3/4". Not a problem for hanging pictures or basic shelves. But for my lumber racks, I want to find the center of the stud.
Yes. Magnetic Stud Finders Are Great! (generally speaking)
I also use the magnetic method (drywall screws/nails generally indicate a stud's presence)
But, have you ever busted out drywall and seen the screws/nails still in the studs? It's not uncommon to find screws that barely grabbed the stud. Not a huge deal for drywall. But not something to count on when hanging lumber racks.
All that was to simply avoid receiving masses of stud finder recommendations that each have their own problems. Now, let's get on with it.
Step 1: Parts List
With that much piano wire, you could make a thousandozenteen stud verifiers. But if you don't have that many friends with birthdays, I think you'll find many more uses for piano wire once you have it around.
The properties of piano wire make it perfect for this job. The crimp connector is just to keep from getting poked.
** in the video I said 22 gauge. I meant .022".
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Step 2: Make the Connector - Cut & Crimp
- Cut a few inches of Piano wire
- Bend it up to make a mass that'll go in the crimp connector
- Crimp it good
- Cut the sticking-out wire down to about 3/4 - 1", depending on the thickness of your drywall & mud.
- Err on the long side; you can always cut it again.
- That wire is springy! Wear safety glasses, gloves, steel-toed boots, a welding helmet, and chain maille.
Step 3: Pointify the Connector
Sand or file the tip to be super pointy. Orient the sanding direction parallel to the wire to help it go in and out of the drywall smoother.
If the sparks mesmerize you and your wire becomes too short, go back and start over again.
Step 4: Use It!
Using a regular stud finder, mark where it thinks the stud center is. Then:
- Push your new stud verifier tool in the wall.
- Does it go in all the way? No -> You found a stud. Yes -> No stud.
- Lightly mark your findings with a pencil.
- Mark the center
- Erase the rest of your lines
- Try to find the holes. It's harder than you think, I think.
Note: This is still technically putting a hole in the wall. Even though it's tiny, the hole is still able to allow air to pass through. So, use a tiny dab of paint to seal it back up.
Step 5: PS
Here's a quick how-to video I made about this a while ago:
Check out my other Instructables, as they are better than this one! Suggestions: