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Home improvement made easy: Five ways to find a wall stud

Looking to hang something on your wall? You’ll need to find a stud (and not the kind with broad shoulders and a square jaw). Studs are vertical 2-by-4-inch beams that make up the frame of your house.

They’re pretty much part of every structural feature in your home, from windows and doors to interior walls and exterior siding. Despite their essential role in building homes, studs are sometimes difficult to find. Locating studs will ensure the object you wish to hang will remain securely mounted on a wall.

Similarly, failing to accurately locate a stud will jeopardize your prized possessions and could lead to unnecessary hammering and potential structural damage. The bottom line is this: You’ll want to locate studs before you mount anything on your wall. In most homes, studs are easy enough to find with a tape measure, flashlight, and a shirt hanger.

Here’s our how-to guide to finding studs. We suggest using two or more options to double check your work. Think you’ll make a mistake?

Don’t worry, we’ve even provided an option for those of you who miss the stud on the first go.

Use a stud finder

Stud finders are the best way to consistently locate the center of studs. Ranging in price from £10 to £50, an electric stud finder will locate the center of any stud that that is covered by less than 1.5 inches of drywall. Electric stud finders work by detecting changes in your wall width.

Another (less expensive) option is a magnetic stud finder, which uses a small magnet to detect nails and screws. Beware: Magnetic stud finders are less effective. They’re essentially miniature metal detectors.

Metal pipes or copper wiring will easily trip up a magnetic stud finder. Similarly, using a smartphone app might be better than nothing, but it’s far from foolproof. That said, there are ways to deduce the location of your studs that are completely free.

Studs are sometimes located next to electrical outlets and light switches

Often times, locating studs is as easy as finding your electrical outlets and light switches.

Standard outlets and light switches are fastened to studs. Remove the outlet or switch cover, then look inside the electric fixture. You might spot the wooden vertical beams.

Next, draw a straight line from the outlet to your desired mount height. Usually, studs run from floor to ceiling. Take note: it’s best to double check with another stud-finding technique before nailing into the wall.

Once you find one stud, it’s easy to find the rest of them. The standard space between studs is 16 or 24 inches, although in some homes, the distance between studs is less regular.

Check by sound

Another effective method for locating studs is simply tapping along the wall itself. Tapping on a spot where a stud exists will produce a solid sound.

Every place where there isn’t a stud will produce a hollow sound. A good starting place is 16 inches from a corner. For better precision, use a tape measure and mark 12 inches, 16 inches, and 24 inches from the corner.

Tap the wall at each distance. You’ll hear a solid sound when you tap the part of the wall that is supported by a stud.

Use a flashlight

It’s also possible to locate studs by flashlight. Be careful, here.

This option is less reliable. Place a flashlight parallel to the wall. Look for small dimples or bows where screws are fastened into the drywall.

Any dimples in the walls will indicate where the drywall is fastened to the stud. A bright idea indeed.

Use a wire stud finder

If at first you miss, use a wire. It’s always good to transform your mistake into an opportunity.

If you miss a stud, this option can be a good alternative. Take a long wire (like a clothes hanger), and fashion it into a right angle. Then insert one side of your wire into the wall and spin the wire in a circle.

Note where the wire makes contact. That’s where the stud is located. That’s it!

Did you find your stud?

Do you have other stud-finding techniques?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Mazda plans to make gasoline as clean as electricity

We’ve hit a point where manufacturers of vehicles are widely adopting electric powertrains in an effort to meet strict emissions standards. They’ll tell you that electric power is squeaky clean and that internal combustion is as dead as the dinosaurs that power it. The truth about EVs is a little less glamorous, though, and Mazda wants to show the world that gasoline still has a lot of room to grow, according to a report by Automotive News.

The first problem with electric cars is electricity. Much of America’s power still comes from coal, natural gas and nuclear, each of which presents serious concerns and challenges for the environment. Add in the fact that the sophisticated electronics and massive batteries that are required to make EVs competitive with IC cars in terms of range require vast quantities of rare minerals, often mined from areas with practically nonexistent environmental protections, and gasoline doesn’t look quite so evil.

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While the petrochemical industry is unlikely to win a lot of environmental awards, making gasoline might be less dirty than making electricity in some areas.

David McNew/Getty Images

Mazda announced at a technical conference in Tokyo that if it can bump the thermal efficiency of its high-compression Skyactiv-G gasoline engines by 27 percent, to a total of 57 percent, that it can reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent, making its internal combustion engines as clean as electric vehicles.

Does that sound a little like something you’d hear on a late-night infomercial? Well, it’s not, and we’ll explain why. Gasoline is an incredibly energy-dense fuel, approximately 28 times denser than the lithium that makes up most EV batteries.

The problem with gasoline is that as much as 75 percent of its energy is lost to heat during the combustion cycle. Mazda’s plan to increase its engine’s thermal efficiency would take that energy loss and harness it to power the wheels, which means you get better mileage and more power for less fuel. Cool, right?

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Future generations of Skyactiv-G engines could boast massively increased efficiency, keeping gasoline relevant for a long time to come.

Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow

Now to dig further into Mazda’s claim, it should be made clear that they are looking at holistic emissions for the entire life cycle of the fuel.

For gasoline this includes getting it out of the ground, refining it and transporting it. For electricity, that means it consists of all of the myriad dirty ways we make power. This refresh of Skyactiv-G is different than the new spark-controlled compression ignition engine that Mazda is calling Skyactiv-X.

We’re not sure how much of X would bleed into the new G, if at all, but regardless we’re thrilled that Mazda remains committed to advancing existing technology and making it accessible to the masses.

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Zip across the water at 36 mph on Radinn’s upgraded electric wakeboard

Wind, waves, or a boat are kinda important when it comes to taking off on a wakeboard. At least, they were until technology allowed for electric wakeboards, a growing number of which are hitting the market. Swedish outfit Radinn first came to our attention a few years back with its Wakejet prototype, following it up in 2016 with the Wakejet Cruise that went on sale for more than £18,000.

Now the company has unveiled an updated version — the G2X — that’s not only thousands of dollars cheaper than the original, but also faster and lighter, and with a few other notable improvements, too. First, more on that price tag. The G2X costs 9,900 euros (around £12,300 at the current exchange rate), well down from the 15,000 euros (£18,600) of the original Wakejet Cruise model.

But yes, it’s still very expensive. The G2X guarantees a more thrilling ride than its predecessor with its top speed boosted to 36 mph, making it 8 mph faster than the Cruise. If you’re new to electric wakeboarders and want to make sure you don’t end up hurtling off into the sunset, you can use the G2X’s waterproof wireless remote to set your own speed limit for a more controlled ride until you get the hang of it.

The remote also has a light-meter that tells you the state of the battery, and vibrates to remind you when to head back to shore, Radinn says on its website.

Another significant — and very welcome — design improvement means you can now swap out the battery “in seconds” so you don’t have to wait two hours for it to charge before hitting the water again, as you did before. The battery gives you about 25 minutes of time on the water if you push it to the limit for the entirety of your ride, or longer if you take things a little easier. But if you fork out 990 euros (£1,230) for the optional XL Power Pack, you can stay out for a decent 45 minutes.

There’s also an optional add-on foil that’ll lift the board out of the water as you zip along, making for an altogether different kind of riding experience. The first Wakejet machine was created five years ago as a university project by a group of students in Sweden. Radinn’s CEO realized it had potential and built a team of more than 30 experienced engineers to turn the prototype into a viable commercial product.

There’s certainly a lot to like about Radinn’s new G2X wakeboard, but it’s fair to say that its high price is going to prove prohibitive for many potential buyers.

If it can find a way to cut it again, it could have a hit on its hands.

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2018 Nissan Leaf range beats estimates, but MPGe lags behind

Before a car goes on sale, the US Environmental Protection Agency tests it and gives an official estimate of the vehicle’s range and efficiency. According to the feds, the 2018 Nissan Leaf is better than before in some ways, but not others. The EPA has given the 2018 Nissan Leaf an estimated range of 151 miles from its 40-kWh battery.

This is 1 mile better than Nissan estimated when the Leaf first debuted, so Nissan’s internal metrics were pretty accurate. It’s a far cry from the original Leaf’s 84-mile range, that’s for sure.

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The EPA didn’t rate it on looks, but if it did, it’d blow the old one out of the water.

Nissan

Its numbers aren’t superior to old Leafs across the board, though. The EPA calculated the 2018 Leaf’s miles-per-gallon equivalent at 112 MPGe combined — broken down individually, it’s rated 125 MPGe in the city and 100 MPGe on the highway.

MPGe was created as a way to compared electrified vehicles to their gas counterparts. A gallon of gas is considered equal to about 33.7 kWh of battery power. Thus, a car that can travel more than 100 miles on that much charge has an MPGe in the triple-digit range.

This means that while the 2018 Leaf’s range is way better, its overall per-mile efficiency remains about the same as the 2016 Leaf with the 30-kWh battery pack, and it’s actually 2 MPGe lower than the original Leaf.

No matter the year, the EPA estimates that the Leaf will cost about £600 in fuel charges per year and should save the driver about £4,000 in fuel costs over five years when compared to the average new car.

So while the numbers weren’t as great as they could be, the Leaf is still a solid EV that offers much better range and creature comforts than before.

And its new act isn’t even over yet — in the near future, Nissan will unveil a larger battery pack for the Leaf that should push its overall range north of 220 miles, slowly closing in on Chevrolet Bolt EV territory.

39 Plug yourself into the new 2018 Nissan Leaf

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