Compact and portable
Includes a built-in level
Confirms stud location
Relies on the magnetic pull of the screws in the studs
Cannot locate stud edge
Easy to misplace
We purchased the CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder so our expert reviewer could try it out at her home. Keep reading for our full product review.
Stud finders are a nifty tool for DIY lovers; they help you locate studs onto which you can secure picture frames, shelves, furniture, and more. There are a number of stud finders on the market, ranging in price from just a few dollars to a couple hundred. Some can pick up on a variety of materials, some beep or light up to confirm they’ve found a stud, and others even keep a digital map of your wall’s interior structure (studs, wires, and all) should you need it again later. CH Hanson’s 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder comes at a bargain basement price, so we wanted to see what that meant in terms of performance. A few projects later and this is what we discovered.
Performance: Magnetic design lacks precision
My husband and I used the CH Hanson to locate wall studs while installing a closet organizer. During that process, we had to find every stud on a five foot wall. While that’s not a huge space to cover, it sure felt like it using the tiny CH Hanson.
The CH Hanson left us with some guesswork.
The CH Hanson definitely has it’s pros, though. Simplicity can be a beautiful thing, and it really is with this tool. It contains two powerful magnets that are able to locate the screws used to install wall studs. This means you never have to replace batteries in order to use it. Once we’d located all the studs in our wall, we left the CH Hanson magnetized in place to verify the location of the stud and then grab a pencil to mark it. There’s no way to know where the exact edge of the studs are located, however. Because the screws may or may not be in the center of the stud, the CH Hanson left us with some guesswork.
While it might not be fancy, it does accurately locate screws. The trick is having the patience to find them. Wall studs aren’t covered in screws, so it’ll take you some time to brush the CH Hanson across the wall until you hit one. If you don’t have any idea where the studs are to start with, the location process can take a while.
All in all, the CH Hanson’s performance is mediocre. It’s easy to miss studs, and it doesn’t give you any way to measure stud width. If you need to find studs fast, you’ll be in trouble with this one. However, if you already have a stud finder and want a backup to verify the location of studs (these tools can be wrong sometimes), the CH Hanson performs admirably.
Once we’d located all the studs in our wall, we left the CH Hanson magnetized in place to verify the location of the stud and then grab a pencil to mark it
Design: Simple and compact
This model is designed for compact simplicity. It measures just 1.25 x 0.75 x 3 inches, making it a palm size tool that’s easy to toss in your toolbox. You can also slip it in your pocket while working. One caveat: the powerful magnets adhere to almost everything. If you keep it in your toolbox, you might need to separate it as anything magnetic will stick. Likewise, it can attract keys and phones in your pocket.
The only other design feature of the CH Hanson is the built-in level. On a tool this small, the reading won’t be as accurate as a dedicated level. But, if you need a two-in-one tool for basic projects, it’s not a bad way to keep things straight.
Size: Pros and cons wrapped into one
Our lives are cluttered with stuff. If there’s one thing the CH Hanson won’t do, it’s overwhelm your toolbox. It’s small and portable, so you can even keep it in your pocket while working on projects.
Our lives are cluttered with stuff. If there’s one thing the CH Hanson won’t do, it’s overwhelm your toolbox.
While this is a positive for most, it could also be a negative. If you’re working on a big project, it’s easy to misplace. In fact, during the testing process, we misplaced it more than once. We found it easier to keep track of if we left it on the wall while not in use. If you’re prone to losing things, you might want to opt for a more substantial stud finder.
Price: Major selling point
Retailing for $7.99, the CH Hanson costs a fraction of what larger models do. If you’ll only be using a stud finder to hang an occasional picture frame or mirror, this is the tool for you. It’ll get the job done, after all, just slower and with less accuracy than some of its competitors.
Competition: A step behind the rest
Franklin Sensors 710 Precision Stud Finder: Professionals who need fast and accurate results are better off with the Franklin 710. This large stud finder has 13 indicator lights and a wide sensing strip that detects studs within seconds. It might lack precision, but you’ll be able to scan in corners, locate two studs at once, and determine stud width in no time. Of course, performance and price often go hand in hand. The Franklin 710 will run you roughly $50.
Zircon StudSensor e50 Electronic Wall Scanner: The e50 is perfect for the average homeowner or professional who needs precise stud location. While the $25 stud finder may not be as fast as the Franklin 710, it provides more accurate results than both the Franklin 710 and CH Hanson. Plus, it’s got live wire detection to protect you from electrical wires.
Ok for infrequent DIY projects.
The CH Hanson takes a little bit of patience to use, but at just $8, it’s certainly worth a shot—especially for those who won’t use it that often.
- Product Name Magnetic Stud Finder
- Product Brand CH Hanson
- MPN 03040
- Price $7.99
- Weight 0.16 oz.
- Product Dimensions 1.2 x 0.8 x 3 in.
- Color Black and yellow