Best Metal Detectors for Woodworking: Our Top 3 Picks

If you’re working with reclaimed wood – or really any kind of wood – you need to detect for tramp metal beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll be damaging your tools, and endangering yourself as the operator.

Save your saw blades by investing in a handy dandy metal detector for woodworking. See our comparison chart below for pros and cons.

Preview
Product
Zircon MetalliScanner m40
UNIROI Security Scanner
Little Wizard 2
Pros
  • Lightweight yet sturdy
  • Has other uses (drywall, electrical, etc)
  • Superior location accuracy
  • Large scanning surface
  • Adjustable sensitivity
  • Very durable, can take a beating
  • Designed specifically for woodworking
  • Very sensitive, finds small fragments
  • Easy setup
Cons
  • Not designed specifically for wood
  • Not as effective on non-magnetic metals
  • Small scanning surface
  • Not designed specifically for wood
  • Prone to falsing
  • May miss some smaller objects
  • Batteries not included
  • Shallow field of detection
  • Need to scan SLOWLY
Best for…
Pinpoint Accuracy
↓ Read Our Review ↓
Deep Penetration
↓ Read Our Review ↓
Preview
Product
Zircon MetalliScanner m40
Pros
  • Lightweight yet sturdy
  • Has other uses (drywall, electrical, etc)
  • Superior location accuracy
Cons
  • Not designed specifically for wood
  • Not as effective on non-magnetic metals
  • Small scanning surface
Best for…
Pinpoint Accuracy
↓ Read Our Review ↓
Preview
Product
UNIROI Security Scanner
Pros
  • Large scanning surface
  • Adjustable sensitivity
  • Very durable, can take a beating
Cons
  • Not designed specifically for wood
  • Prone to falsing
  • May miss some smaller objects
Best for…
Preview
Product
Little Wizard 2
Pros
  • Designed specifically for woodworking
  • Very sensitive, finds small fragments
  • Easy setup
Cons
  • Batteries not included
  • Shallow field of detection
  • Need to scan SLOWLY
Best for…
Deep Penetration
↓ Read Our Review ↓

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Zircon MetalliScanner m40

Zircon created the Metalliscanner m40 with their customer base in mind. It is compact, powerful, and can be used for a multitude of both home and professional projects. It is one of the top choices for craftsman on the market today. The Metalliscanner m40 has many pros, but let’s concentrate on the top 3:

  • This handheld scanner is small, coming in at under 4oz and less than 8” in length
  • It is more versatile than most other scanners on the market
  • It comes out of the package ready to use

Zircon made this scanner with its users in mind. It is even smaller than The Little Wizard 2, which makes it ultra-portable. Don’t let the size fool you though, because it is a powerful tool, even if it doesn’t look like much. You could easily carry it to work sites, room to room, or around your workshop. It won’t take up too much space in your toolbox either.

The versatility on the m40 is amazing. The company claims it can penetrate wood, drywall, paneling, tile, stucco, plaster, concrete, and other surfaces. It also claims that it can detect magnetic metals up to 4” deep, and non-magnetic metals up to 2” deep, which is deeper than both the Little Wizard 2 and the UNIROI. It is also capable of wide scanning and pinpoint scanning, which means you get the most bang for your buck.

We all know we like to be able to buy and go, and with the scanner you can do just that. The Zircon has an automatic calibrator, it does it for you with a push of a button, and with a new battery ready to go. You can buy it and get to work immediately, no extra purchases required.

Nothing in life is perfect, and that includes this scanner. Here is a more in depth look at its cons:

  • Not designed specifically for wood
  • Not as accurate for non-magnetic metals
  • Not a huge scanning surface

According to thehealthyhandyman.com, this scanner is not as effective on non-magnetic metals. This may not be a big issue if what you are looking for is close to the surface, but if it’s past 2” deep, this tool may not hit the mark. Keep in mind, this scanner still makes their top 3 list for best stud finders, but it is something to think about.

The scanning surface, in the wide setting, on the Zircon is about 3.5”. That is a far cry from the wide paddle of the UNIROI. Portability is great, but not when you have a large area to cover. It may be a powerful tool, but it may take much longer than it would have with a larger scanner.

Overall, this scanner is feature rich for a good value. It may cost more than the competitors, but it also includes many more features. There is also the added benefit of not needing to run back to the store for batteries or needing to use a separate tool for calibration. It would be a great tool for any handyman to have in his arsenal.

UNIROI Security Scanner

I know what you’re thinking… “This is an airport security wand – NOT a tool for use on lumber!” But hear us out.

The UNIROI Security Scanner is a versatile metal detector that can be used in multiple applications. Its original purpose was to be a security wand, but over time those in the woodworking industry realized it works well for detecting metal in walls and lumber.

The large scanning surface of the UNIROI makes this scanner more efficient than the competitors, such as the Little Wizard 2 and the Zircon Metalliscanner m40. You only need to pass it over the item you need scanned once, instead of going back and forth to cover the whole surface area.

The adjustable sensitivity on this wand means you can choose if you want to set it to the strongest setting, which will detect a wall stud over 4.5” deep, or to a lower setting. The lower setting could be helpful in finding staples in a carpet, loose screws on the floor, or random nails sticking out of reclaimed wood. Being able to adjust the sensitivity means you can customize it to your needs.

The versatility of the UNIROI makes it a good deal. It is both a security wand, and a craftsman’s tool. Unlike the Little Wizard 2 and the MetalliScanner, it has both a sound setting and a vibration setting, allowing you to use it under any circumstance. It is used by law enforcement, security officers, and tradesmen alike.

There are so many options on the market for lightweight and portable metal detectors, such as the Little Wizard 2 or the Zircon m40. This wand is not one of them. It weighs over 1lb and is 16” long. It may come with a holster type belt clip, but this will not fit in the average toolbox as easily as some of the smaller options. In fact, it can be pretty cumbersome.

This wand is also not as versatile. For example, the MetalliScanner can penetrate almost any surface. This wand is not made for that. It also will not fit in some of those tighter spaces or be as concise. With such a large surface area, it is hard for this tool to help you pinpoint exactly where one small stud may be. You may know it’s there somewhere, but it can only give you a general area.

With all things told, this is a good tool. It is great if you do most of your work at home and don’t need to travel with it much. Its size is both its biggest strength and its biggest weakness simultaneously. It can make pulling old nails and finding studs quick and simple with one sweep.

Little Wizard 2

If you need something accurate, lightweight, and easy to use for finding screws and nails in your woodworking projects, this is the metal detector for you!

Accuracy is a big deal in this business, and this product claims to be one of the best. With a 2.5” scanning head, the Little Wizard is said to be able to detect:

  • All types of steel
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Any other material commonly used for nails and screws

This makes the Little Wizard versatile and invaluable. As an aside, the company also claims performance is not affected by the age or moisture content of your wood, which is great for reclaiming old pieces and boards that have seen better days.

Being lightweight makes this product a great option for when your work takes you traveling, or for when you will be working for extended periods of time. Heavier equipment, like the UNIROI, may make it harder to get the job done. The petite size of this tool eliminates that issue.

Ease of use is also a deciding factor when deciding on which product to buy, and according to Tom Hintz from newwoodworker.com, this one is very simple to use. Once the battery is installed all you need to do is use a small screwdriver to calibrate the device. After that, you move your Little Wizard around in a semi-circular motion in order to make sure you have passed the sensors over the entire piece of lumber.

The Little Wizard 2 is a great option for those on a budget, or the hobbyist who wants something small and simple, but there are a few drawbacks. It is not as versatile as competitor products, such as the Zircon MetalliScanner m40 and UNIROI. It cannot scan as deeply. The battery is not included.

Competitive products advertise that they can work with wood, stucco, plaster, and other materials. This tool is only meant for use on wood. If your project will require you to detect metal through plaster walls or concrete, this is probably not your best choice.

This scanner is also only able to detect a medium sized nail at a depth of an inch, and product reviews across the web seem to confirm this issue. That is not a problem when working with your average flooring board or old piece of furniture, but we wouldn’t advise you try to use it on, say, a large beam you may be trying to salvage.

The battery not being included is not a make it or break it issue, but we all know we prefer to be able to buy a product and go. It isn’t fun to get home and pull your tool out, only to find it can’t be used without another purchase.

Overall, we find the Little Wizard 2 to be a good little detector that will get the job done for a good price. It may not be the most versatile, but it is the most cost effective, and it has many uses for the average woodworker. You are sure to enjoy this product for years to come.

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