Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Stud Finding/Patching Plaster
When I need to find a stud in a wall, I just grab my handy electronic stud finder and go to it. These gadgets are inexpensive, and in my experience, work very well. But what if you have an older home with thick plaster walls -- too thick for the stud finder to work properly?

One method you can use is the same as my fall-back method for when the 9V battery is dead -- a hammer and a 4d finishing nail. First, tap the wall with a rubber mallet or your fist or something that won't damage the wall.

When you think you've found a stud -- the wall sounds less hollow -- drive the nail part-way into the wall, just far enough to tell if you were right. Now comes the part that nearly breaks my heart: after you've found a stud, you need to determine the center of that stud. What you "want" to do is make a series of holes going out one-way and then the other from the original hole until you "lose" the stud. With any luck, your studs are 16" on center and you don't have to a lot of this low-tech stud finding.

To repair the damage, fill the holes, or fix a crack in a plaster wall, you might find this tip handy: Typically, you mix up the patching plaster in a plastic bucket. Then, after the left-over plastic dries, knock it out with a hammer. Good for getting rid of the dry plaster, but it's hard on the bucket.

Wouldn't it be better if you had a flexible container, like, say, half a basketball? Cut one in half. You get two "bowls," each about the right size to hold a batch of plaster. When the left-over plaster dries, just crush the bowl and all the dry material falls right out. (Just don't tell your kid what happened to his basketball.)

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